Parish of Wheery and Tisaran
The parish comprises the combined parishes of Wheery and Tisaran which were united in the late 18th century. The river Brosna winds its course through the parish on its way to the Shannon. In ancient times this river was known as Abha Dé, the river of God, because of the number of monastic settlements along its banks. In this parish alone there are the remains of eight such settlements. The church at Wheery was founded by St. Rioch and remained the parish church until Penal times, at which time a simple chapel was built on the Ballycumber Road. The early Christian Wheery Bell was found in the river by Patrick Caheeran in 1849 during the course of river drainage.
In 1820 Rev. Patrick O’Farrell built a new church on the site of the present church. Rev. Canon Sheridan replaced that church in 1896 and the new church was dedicated to the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin. In the same year the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny arrived in the town and commenced post-primary education for girls. In 1976 a new church, the Church of St. Oliver Plunkett, was built in Boora. Further improvements have been carried out periodically since then, the latest being in 1996.
In the western end of the parish St. Saran founded a church in the 7th century in a place which became known as Tigh Saráin (Tisaran), the house of Saran. It was to this place that a native son, Fr. Stephen Daly, came in 1615 to minister to the people. He was the first Capuchin priest to come to Ireland and he died in 1620 and is buried in Tisaran graveyard. Nearby is St. Saran’s Holy Well.
Ferbane is in the centre of the old Gaelic tuath of Delvin Eathra or Delvin MacCoghlan. The MacCoghlan sept ruled the area from about the 11th to the 17th century. One of the greatest of the MacCoghlans was Terence of Kilcolgan Court who played a prominent role in the Confederation of Kilkenny. He was a patron of the Four Masters in their work “Genealogia Regnum et Sanctorum Hiberniae” and was the active patron and inspiration of his kinsman Conal Mac Geoghegan in his great work in the translation of the “Annals of Clonmacnois” from Early Irish to Elizabethan English.
Terence’s son Francis was responsible for the renovation of the Wheery Church some time after 1660 and commissioned and had erected the Passion Stone in an arched wall in Kincora in 1688. This stone, one of the finest examples of an Arma Christi in Ireland, was found in a derelict state by the local landlord the Rev. Henry King in 1844 and he had it incorporated into an arch in his stable yard, where it is still to be seen.
During major renovations in 1996 Fr. Frank Gray had a replica model of the Passion Stone executed by local artist Dolores Kirwan of Bellair and built into a wall of the Historical Section in the church. At that time Michael Casey was commissioned to sculpt a piece of bog oak for the baptismal font. A Chapel of Adoration was built on the ascetic lines of the early monks’ cells and furnished with bog oak sculpted by Michael Casey.