The foundations of the oldest known church in Cullen can still be traced in the old graveyard in Cullen. This old graveyard has two division - the south-western half is the old ground and the remainder, "the new". It is probable that the older portion extended further down into the meadow on the south east as some years ago there were a few mounds believed to be old graves there. Some time towards the end of the last century the wall was built around the cemetery and was extended to the north-east giving rise to the names "old and new ground". The earliest church was about 50 yards from the holy well.9 This well was covered with a canopy of stone mortar by the Millstreet District Council. This is St. Laitiaran's well. The older generation never called her "St. Laitiaran" but "Laitiaran beannaithe".
The next church, whenever built, was replaced by the present Gothic building by Canon O'Sullivan in 1907. Architect was Hynes who built a lot of Gothic churches in Cloyne and did some building in Tralee Convent. Contractor was Coffey of Midleton. The church was to the left of the road to the present old cemetery and between it and the road front there was a house for the parish clergy. The last to occupy it as cleric was Mick Evans. The ground to the right of the road to the cemetery was also parochial. The old church was used as a hall for some time. Late Fr. Brennan C.C. sold the church property there in two lots, portion east of present cemetery road to Martin Dennehy and west to Dan Cronin ("Bard", pub). The stones of the old church were taken by Tim Murphy, Coolikerane (see Inventory) and were used to build his house.
The oldest church that can now be traced in the Ballydaly district was situated in Upper Ballydaly in the farm now occupied by Matthew O'Sullivan. The lower portion of the walls can still be seen surrounded by a dense jungle of trees. It is said that the walls and gables of this church were in a good condition as late as 1874.1 0
The next church was built in Rathduane (1864-5) by John McCarthy who converted three workmen's houses into a church. A letter from Bishop Moriarty to Fr. Fitzpatrick on February 23rd. 1863 of which I give an exact copy would point to 1864 or
9 Legend - Tradition This oldest Church near the Holy Well was burned by Cromwell's soldiers in 1650. During the reign of Charles II (1660) another church was built. This was thatched and in 1835 Fr. Fitzpatrick had it rebuilt and slated. In this church which served the people until 1906 was a bell erected in 1881, gift of Lady Kenmare to Canon Griffin. She had previously donated the altar and tabernacle for the church.
1 0 Note inserted by Rev. E. Corridon in 1993:- Pat Murphy, Ballydaly Upper (d. 1992) said that Canon P. Browne, when introducing the Novena in 1985 in Ballydaly Church - Canon Browne seemed to be quoting from an old tattered book: "The first mission on record in this parish, in 1854, was in Ballydaly Upper Church. The people came there at 4-5 a.m. for Confessions and Mass. The preachers were 3 Frenchmen and an Englisman. The people used to bring stone 'flags' to kneel on the mud floor." [A tape of Canon Browne's talk was made by Sean Radley. Among other things he said that it was an earthen floor and that the people brought in stones from the fence to kneel on. He named the Redemptorists who gave that 1854 mission as "Pectorin from Prussia, Fr. Bernard from Holland, Van Twerpin (?) and Prost". He added that there were no Irish Redemptorists at the time. He conjectured that there were "probably about 10,000 people in the parish at the time.]