Late-Gabriel-PolandGerald Gabriel Poland (former RUC Sergeant) of “Mountview”, Boggin Hill, Ballon, and formerly of Aughagallon, Co Armagh, passed away peacefully, surrounded by his loving family, on Monday 18 March at his home.

Gabriel’s remains reposed at Carpenter Bros. Funeral Home, Shamrock Square, Carlow, on Thursday, 21 March before being removed to the Church of SS Peter and Paul, Ballon for Requiem Mass the following day followed by a cremation Service at Glasnevin Crematorium, Dublin.

Gabriel was the beloved husband of Jean, adored father of Paula, Canon Conor and the late baby Carmel and cherished Papa of Gabriel. He will be sadly missed by his loving wife, son, daughter, grandson, Gabriel’s father Miceal, brothers, sisters, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, nephews, nieces, relatives, extended family and friends


Late-Frances-DowlingMrs Frances Dowling, 8 Ballon Hill, Ballon, passed away peacefully, surrounded by her loving family, in Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, on Thursday, 14 March. Aged 66 years, she was  formerly Frances Delaney and a native of Timahoe, Co. Laois. She married John Dowling, Bendenstown, in 1976, and the couple set up home, first in Rathoe and later in Ballon, where they reared their three children. A very quiet and retiring lady, Frances’ life revolved around her children and grandchildren, and apart from her family, her interests were bingo, diamond art and knitting.

Her remains reposed at Carpenter Bros. Funeral Home, Shamrock Square, Carlow, on Saturday, 16 March and at her home on the following day before being removed to St Patrick’s church, Rathoe on Monday 18 March for Requiem Mass followed by burial in the adjoining cemetery.

Frances will be sadly missed by her husband John, daughter Carmel Moloney (Rathrush), sons JJ (Sraugh) and Matty (Bendenstown), and grandchildren Craig, Amy, Leah, Ella, Aaron, James, Kitty, Liam and John. great-granddaughter Evie, son-ln-law Mick, daughters-in-law Caitriona and Vanessa, granddaughter-in-law Aoife, brothers, sisters, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, nephews, nieces, relatives, neighbours, her wide circle of wonderful friends and her faithful companion Dusty. She was predeceased by her parents Ted and Josie and brother.


Fr.-PaT-Travers_Pat Travers was born in June 1937 in Kilmurry, Ballon. He was the youngest child in a family of 11 children born to John and Julia Travers. Pat was a much-loved priest who passed away in Los Angeles on Thursday, June 1st, 2023. His ashes were buried in the Travers family plot in Ballon cemetery after a memorial Mass on Saturday, February 17th, 2024.Pat Travers was born in June 1937 in Kilmurry, Ballon. He was the youngest child in a family of 11 children born to John and Julia Travers. Pat was a much-loved priest who passed away in Los Angeles on Thursday, June 1st, 2023. His ashes were buried in the Travers family plot in Ballon cemetery after a memorial Mass on Saturday, February 17th, 2024.

Fr. Pat Travers’s earliest school days began in the old Ballon National School, where he was enrolled in May 1942. From there, he graduated from the Patrician Brothers, Tullow, to continue his education and complete secondary school. This was before the introduction of “free” secondary school education, so he spent his summers working on local farms to raise the necessary school fees.

It was not difficult for the young Pat Travers to make the choice to follow his vocation to the priesthood.  He developed a strong religious faith from his mother, who was a deeply committed Catholic. He was also encouraged at the time by Fr Dunne, then curate in Ballon.

In September 1956, aged 19, after his novitiate in Cootehill, Pat Travers left Ireland to attend the Queen of Peace seminary in New Hampshire, which was run by the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, travel to and from Ireland was not as frequent or as easy as it is today, and consequently, he did not return to Ireland during his time in New Hampshire. He was therefore unable to return home during this time, even following the death of his beloved mother in 1960 and his sister Mary Ann Kirwan in 1962, just six months before his ordination.

He spent six years in New Hampshire before returning to Cootehill in Cavan for his ordination in June 1962. He returned to Ballon and celebrated his first Mass in his own community.

The first posting from his order was to a High School for boys in the city of Los Angeles. He had hoped he might join the order’s mission in Japan, but it was not be.

His arrival at the then Pomona Catholic Boys High School coincided with huge changes at the school. He began his teaching career in both Maths and Religion but soon just reverted to Maths only.

He remained in the same school for 48 years where hard work and long hours proved no obstacle to Fr Travers in getting things done.

In 1967 the school name was changed from Pomona to Damien High School in honour of fellow SS.CC. priest, Fr Josef de Veuster. Fr de Veuster is better known throughout the world as Fr Damien, the leper priest.

As well as teaching duties Fr Travers also covered many roles: Dean of Discipline, Dean of Studies, Athletic Director, running the bookstore, driving the school bus, timekeeper at games (football & basketball).

Damien High School today bears no resemblance to the school Fr Travers joined in 1962. In conjunction with his congregation there, continuous improvements have been made to the school campus both academically and sporting. The school doubled in size during his years as principal, a position he held for 30 years.

A meeting with the parent of three former pupils was to begin a new phase for both Fr Travers and the students at Damien. This parent was living in San Diego County, some 150 miles south of Los Angeles suggested to Fr Pat about getting his pupils involved in an outreach programme, just across the Mexican border. Fr Pat took up the challenge and some 40 years later, it continues to prosper.

The programme involves getting the student, accompanied by their fathers, to travel down to the poverty stricken La Morita on the outskirts of Tijuana, during the summer break, to build houses for the less fortunate.

The project is funded through donations of money and materials from the Los Angeles area, where Damien High school is situated. The student volunteers engage in a number of fund-raising activities to gather donations amounting to thousands of dollars annually.

Given his duties as Principal and his TJ Mission outreach, one would imagine life was full enough for Fr Travers. He managed to combine his school and mission work with weekend work at different parishes in the Los Angeles area.

He ministered in the San Bernardino Diocese, a couple of hours from his school in La Verne at the church of Holy Innocents in Victorville. He used this parish base as an appeal centre for his TJ mission.

Following his retirement as principal of Damien High School in 2011, he returned to full time ministry in Holy Innocents Church, Victorville, where he served as Parish Priest until his retirement in 2019.

While his pastoral work in Damien and beyond has been his life, Fr Travers managed over more recent years and in a time of more frequent travel, to take some time out from his busy schedule. He loved returning to his home base in Kilmurray where he stayed with his late brothers, Jim and Martin.

It was also a matter of great pride to him than during his summer visits from the late 1970s, he was able to preside at the weddings of his nieces and nephews from the Kinsella family from Killeshin, Kirwan family from Aghade and Travers family in Galway.

He celebrated his Silver Jubilee on a return trip to Ballon in the summer of 1987 with a Mass in Ballon Church. This celebration was tinged with sadness as his brother Jim had died suddenly, just months earlier at his home in Kilmurry.

During his many visits home, he always took the opportunity to say Sunday Mass in Ballon, after which he renewed acquaintances with old friends.

Fr Travers also celebrated his Golden Jubilee in July 2012 with a Mass again in Ballon Church accompanied by his extended family. In a link to his First Mass in 1962, members of the altar boys who served at that mass accompanied him on the entrance procession up the aisle.

On Saturday 25 June 2022 and in front of a congregation that included his nieces and nephews, he returned to the same church to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of his ordination with another mass.

This was to be his last visit home. The much-loved Fr Pat passed away in Los Angelus on Thursday 1 June 2023  and his funeral Mass was held in Damien High School on Friday 30 June followed by cremation. His ashes, as previously stated, were buried in the Travers family plot in Ballon cemetery after  memorial Mass on Saturday 17 February 2024.


Late-Mrs-Lily-MulhallLily (Elizabeth) Mulhall, ‘Castlebeag’, Castlemore, Tullow, passed away in the care of her loving family at home on Wednesday 7th February. Formerly Lily Dempsey from Kings Cross, Tullow she was predeceased by her parents Aidan and Elizabeth (Lizzie). She married Jim Mulhall in 1966 and moved to Castlemore where the couple farmed and raised their family of four. 

Lily was an active member of Tullow Macra, IFA, Tullow ICA, Muintir Na Tire, Ballon Enterprise Group, Ballon/Rathoe Development Association, and in latter years, Ballyconnell ICA. While her family were young, Lily was a teacher in Tullow Community School and taught upholstery classes in the evenings. She returned to education at the age of 45 and earned a degree in Business Studies from Carlow IT followed by a Masters degree in Community and Rural Economic Development from UCD. She then lectured in UCD in this same subject for the following 20 years. During this time, she facilitated community leaders across Ireland with the aim of  improving rural communities, developing community services and establishing rural enterprises. 

For her thesis in 1995 Lily conducted a skills audit of the Ballon/Rathoe community and with a team of helpers distributed a needs/ideas sheet to every household in the parish. While working with Ballon/Rathoe Development Association, Lily went on to, among other projects, develop the SPEC (Strategic Planning for Enterprise Creation) programme which was delivered in Ballon and attended by 60 farmers from the local area and was accredited by UCD. She also worked with her colleagues in Ballon to develop the community centre and old school into the fantastic facilities that they are today. 

During her time in UCD, Lily was also responsible for developing and delivering the university’s very first online programme which allowed communities from across the country to engage with the University. Her farsighted research in UCD on the changing dynamics affecting farm families, led to her developing and delivering these innovative and influential training programmes. 

With her colleagues in Ballon she also founded Balfarm ltd., Ireland’s largest agri purchasing group. She then facilitated other agri groups across the country to set up purchasing groups in their own areas. 

She put rural development front and centre, was a great leader and like all great leaders she challenged attitudes and helped bring about real change. She pushed boundaries and broke new ground in the area of community and rural economic development. 

Each year for many years, Lily hosted a large group of agricultural students from Purdue University, Indiana, brought them on a tour of rural Ireland, and showcased a variety of Irish rural enterprises, and then welcomed them all to her home and farm at Castlemore.

Lily mentored and burned the midnight oil with many students over the years who were completing their post-graduate studies. She was selfless, encouraging and never stopped until the job was done. She was a social entrepreneur and facilitator at heart and brought out the best in everybody she encountered. A life so well lived.

Lily’s remains reposed at her home before being removed to St Patrick’s Church, Rathoe on Saturday 10 February for Requiem Mass followed by cremation in Mount Jerome Crematorium, Harold’s Cross, Dublin.   

Lily is mourned by her husband James, daughters Rosemary, Karen, Lisa, son Patrick, grandchildren Isobel, Adrian, Alannah, Sophie, Kate, James, Rocco and Lulurose. She will also be greatly missed by Bernard, Luis, Eddie and Leah, and her extended family, loyal neighbours, many friends and colleagues. 


Late-Tom-McGaghTom McGagh, Pheasants Rise, Ballykealey, Ballon, whose death occurred peacefully at SignaCare Nursing Home, Bunclody, surrounded by his loving family, on Wednesday, 7 February, was in his 95th year. He enjoyed good health up to recent months.

A native of Meleek, Tuam, County Galway, Tom moved to Ardattin in 1955, married Chrissie O’Neill, Newstown in 1964 and the couple raised their family of five while farming at Ballintemple. They sold up in 1997 and moved to Ballykealey, where they ran a high-grade bed and breakfast business. Chrissie passed away in 2013.

Tom was an avid follower of sport and loved both the GAA and horse racing. He was also into hunting and shooting but was, first and foremost, a family man who was held in high regard in both the Ballon and Ardattin areas, where he spent most of his life.

His remains were reposed at Kearney’s Funeral Home in Fenagh before being removed to the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Ardattin, on Saturday, 10 February, for Requiem Mass, followed by burial in the adjoining cemetery.

Tom will be sadly missed by his sons Tom (Myshall), Brian (Thomastown), Mícheál (Rathrush), daughters Helen Castle (Ballykealey) and Kathryn (Clonmel), sons-in-law Alister and David, daughters-in-law Anne and Aisling, grandchildren Jonathan, Cliona, Ciara, Ysobel, Lochlann and Aoife, nephews, nieces, relatives, kind neighbours and his many friends.


Late-Joe-NolanJoe Nolan, Bendenstown, Rathoe died peacefully at his home on Saturday 27 January. Aged 94, he worked for Carlow County Council for most of his life before retiring 29 years ago. Joe was a great lover of Gaelic games and traditional and country and western music. He was also a keen gardener.

His remains were reposed at Kearney’s Funeral Home in Fenagh and at his home before being removed to St Patrick’s Church, Rathoe, on Monday, 29 January, for Requiem Mass followed by burial immediately afterwards in the adjoining cemetery.

Joe will be sadly missed by his son, Paul, daughter Caroline, daughter-in-law, Thelma, grandchildren Shane and Niamh, sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, nephews, nieces and a wide circle of friends. He was predeceased by his wife, Frances, in 2020 and son, John, in 1971.



Fr-Brendan-HowardVery Rev. Brendan J. Howard, former parish priest of Ballon and Rathoe passed away peacefully on New Year’s Day, in the loving care of the nurses and staff at Hillview Nursing Home, Tullow Rd., Carlow.

Fr Howard was installed as Parish Priest by Dr James Moriarty, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin on Sunday 14 September 2008 in ceremonies at both St Patrick’s Church, Rathoe and the Church of SS Peter and Paul, Ballon.

As well as ministering to his parishioners Fr Howard was involved in the refurbishing of the old national school in Ballon, the building of the new community centre, was chairperson of the parish council and the board of management of Ballon NS and also chairperson of the Mount Leinster Region Community Employment Scheme.

A Christian Brother from 1956, Fr Howard dispensed from his religious vows to the Brothers in 1996 and was ordained a Deacon for Kildare and Leighlin. He was ordained to the priesthood by Most Rev Dr Laurence Ryan DD in the Cathedral of the Assumption, Carlow on 6 July 1997.The following day he celebrated his first mass in the Cathedral – his own parish. His first appointment was to the Cathedral parish from 1997 to 2000 and was then appointed to Myshall/Drumphea parish until 2008.

Fr Howard was born at Ardreigh, Athy on 24 May 1942, his family moving to Jerusalem, Carlow soon after. He attended Levistown NS and Bishop Foley School in Carlow before moving to the CBS Academy, Carlow for his secondary education.

In 1956 he joined the Irish Christian Brothers at St Joseph’s Baldoyle and continued his education there and at Colaiste Ioghaid Ris, Dun Laoghaire.  He qualified as a primary teacher in St Mary’s Marino in 1966 and went on to teach in Limerick, Portarlington, and Drimnagh Castle, Dublin before taking up secondary teaching at the latter school from 1972 to 1975. He was Superior and Manager at St Brendan’s College Bray, CBS, Portlaoise, Colaiste Eoin, Athy CBS, North Monastery, Cork and St Mary’s CBS, Kilkenny between 1977 and 1993. 

In 1993 he enrolled at the Jesuit School of Technology, Berkley and obtained a Masters of Theological Studies in 1995 before deciding to become a priest.

Throughout his life Fr Howard has been immersed in the GAA was secretary of the County Limerick Bord na Nog to be followed by a similar position in County Laois and as his teaching took him across the country he was involved with clubs in places as diverse as Bray, Portlaoise, Athy and Dicksboro. He has served as president of the O’Hanrahans Club in Carlow, Naomh Eoin, Ballon, and was chairman of County Carlow Coiste na Nog and Irish Officer for County Carlow.

Fr Howard was involved in many other sports including athletics and from 1966 to 1969 was president of the newly formed BLOE; he was involved with CBS Portarlington and North Monastery, Cork when they won national titles in basketball and was a founder member of Athy Boxing Club in 1986.

Fr Howard was one of the first to promote alcohol free discos in Walkinstown in the late 1960s and was also involved with the Legion of Mary in many centres.

Another of Fr Howards many and varied interests include Tidy Towns and he served on the committees in the many towns and centres in which he worked.

He retired as Parish Priest of Ballon/Rathoe on Monday 31 July 2017 having served there for nine years.

Fr Howard’s remains reposed at St. Peter & Paul’s Church, Ballon and following . Funeral Mass on Thursday 4 January burial took place in Levitstown cemetery, Maganey, Co. Kildare.

He will be sadly missed by his loving brothers Noel, Aidan and Kieran, sisters Deirdre, Nuala and Angela, Bishop Denis and the Clergy of the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, nephews, nieces, relatives and friends.

He was predeceased by his parents Michael and Bridget and by his brothers Michael, Anthony, Martin and Robert.