St Kevin’s Church is situated on the edge of the small but picturesque village of Camross in County Laois. The church was built in 1813 and is a detached Georgian Gothic style Catholic church, with a T-shaped plan and tower. Rickard Burke was the local priest when the church was built and the chapel gate bears his name. I am uncertain when the church fell into ruin but the area does appear to have had a massive decrease in parishioners during the later part of the 19th century. The Dúchas Schools Collection 1937 mentioned that during the mid 19th century there was a large number of Shebeens in the village, this was due to the amount of labourers that passed through the village at that time. Men from Roscrea, Ballaghmore and Nealstown would visit Camross on their way to Kildare looking for work during the harvest and stop off in the Shebeens. The Schools Collection also does have repeated mentions of the first person buried in the cemetery, “a man named Bannan from Killanure. This took place when the walls of the chapel were about three feet high, during the burial a faction fight took place, broken stones were used as missiles and some blood silt so the graveyard had to be reconsecrated. “Faction Fights” were common in those days between the ‘black feet’ and the ‘white feet’ especially in the Killanure district.”**
The history of Faction Fighting and Stick Fighting in Ireland and its links to Agrarian unrest during the 18th to early 20th century is a subject I have always been very intrigued by and I would recommend any reader to study this fascinating aspect of Irish life further.
**Quote Taken from Dúchas Schools Collection, roll number 15932 from Clonin, Co Laois, Teacher: Bean Uí Bhraoin.
GPS: 53.0045, -7.59506