Fr Laurence Hartnett probably built the church of St Mary of the Assumption between the years 1814 and 1821. There is some dispute about this though, as some maintain that the church was in fact first built in 1808. Confusion is caused by the fact that there were two Fr Laurence Hartnetts as Parish Priests of Croom, the first being the uncle of the second.
According to oral tradition, a Mr Croker of Croom Castle gave the site for St Mary’s. The church was originally rectangular in shape, with a thatched roof and flagged floor. Two wings were later added, giving the church its present day T-shape.
In the 1850’s the church was lengthened, and a new slated roof was put on. The sacristy was built in 1898. During a reconstruction of the church between 1929 and 1932, the walls were raised ten feet all around and buttressed outside. A new roof was laid, and the flagstone floor was overlaid with pitch pine boards. At this time, the Lyons family had their own gallery.
In 1969 the altar and sanctuary were renovated, and the floors were done up. More recently the stonework on the outside of the church was exposed, and the church itself was painted. The exposed stonework gives an indication of the original height of the thatch before the new roof was laid.
A plaque just inside the side door, on the right, is dedicated to Henry Lyons, who died in 1885 aged 57. The plaque asks that people pray for him and his family. Inside the side door on the left is a plaque to Lawrence Hartnett, Parish Priest, who is buried in the church.
Stained glass windows in the church include windows of St Anthony, St Bridget, St Patrick, St Theresa, and the Holy family. Parishioners donated the windows. There is another plaque to the Lyons family on the stairs of the right gallery, which dedicated the stained glass window of the Archangel Michael to them. The window by the left gallery is to Gabriel.
Buried within the church are:
Parish Priest of Croom and Ballybanogue
Died August 27th 1861
Fr John Quinlan
Parish Priest for 31 years
Died May 19th 1892
The Church of Ireland church now stands where there was originally a Medieval Church. Nothing now remains, however, of the church ruin.
Before Croom became the parish church in 1711, the parish church had been at Anhid. Only one wall remains of Anhid church now, however, located in the centre of Anhid graveyard. The old water font was removed from this church in 1969. The name Anhid comes from Anait, meaning the chief church in a monastery.
In Westropp’s Ancient Churches in Co. Limerick, he mentions a chapel at Dromassell or Tory Hill. There is no longer any trace of this chapel. He also states that there was a chapel at Caherass, but says that this chapel was closed after its desecration by the suicide in it of its chaplain. The church ruin in Dunaman is still in existence; however, it is no longer in the parish of Croom, but in Adare parish. There were also churches at Dunkip, and Dollas, but again no ruins remain.
Westropp also lists Keilbeinighte, which he says was situated between Killeenoghty and Croom, and may in fact have been Corrabul. However, the exact location of the site is now unknown.
According to Westropp, there was a church called Ballyhowregainn at Carrigeen. Today the ruins of Dysert Aenghusa are in this townland. These ruins include a church ruin and the remains of a round tower.