The first Parish priest of Beagh, Fr. Dermot Moylan, resided first at Laughtyshaughnessy and later in Clooneene. However, during penal Times, the priests of Beagh had no particular abode and often stayed in caves or underground passages in Lisconla or Bunnacappaun Wood.
The Penal Laws were enforced in Ireland as an attempt to destroy the Catholic community. Catholics were barred from every form of public office and the Catholic priesthood was expelled from the country. A reward of £5 was put on the head of a priest, more if he were of a higher ranking, and the profession of ‘Priest Hunter’ became a popular profession for the Protestants. With the persecution that followed, priests were forced out of their churches and reduced to saying Mass in remote areas usually by ‘Mass Rocks’.
With the relaxation of the Penal Laws, the priests resided mainly in the town of Gort before the erection of the Parochial House in Shanaglish in 1904. Fr. Barry lived in Boland’s house, later known as Sullivan’s drapery in Gort. Fr. Connolly lived in Dr. P.J. Fallon’s house. Dean Cassidy resided at Ned Kennedy’s in Bridge Street, and later moved to Jack Kilroy’s in the Square. When he was P.P. of Beagh, he resided in a cottage on the site of the Lady Gregory Hotel, which was later occupied by Miss Clandillon.
After the building of the Parochial House, curates at first lived with the parish Priest, but there was agitation to get them out. Dr. Carr, the Bishop of Kilmacduagh, agreed that they could stay out if they wished and so they remained where they could get suitable lodgings. The last curate in Beagh, Fr. Keely, lived in Patrick Niland’s house beside the present St. Colman’s Hall, Church Street, Gort.
All marriages and baptisms were practically done in the church in the WorkHouse in Gort. No confessions were heard in the church in Shanaglish until the Dean lived there. There were special confessionals in Gort Church for Fr. Connolly to hear his own Parishioners and also one for the C.C.
The clergy at that time wore long black knee breeches and a tall hat. Their general mode of travel was by horseback. Their boots were made locally by a show maker called Dunning in Shanaglish.
McNamara Marie, Beagh A History & Heritage, p.30, p. 40