St Patricks Church Mayobridge

Formation of St Patrick’s Parish Mayobridge

“GREETINGS AND BLESSINGS to our Beloved Brother Priest, the Very Rev. Thomas McConville. As a new Parish has been erected to be known as St. Patrick’s Clonallon, and since according to the norm of Canon 521, it is clear to us that you have the required qualities of good morals, sound doctoring, zeal for souls, prudence and the other virtues necessary for the wise direction of this Parish, we hereby appoint you Parish Priest of St. Patrick’s, Clonallon according to Canon Law and we enjoin on you the zealous care of souls to be exercised under the authority of the local Ordinary.

As proof of this, we have ordered this letter of ours, stamped with the Episcopal seal, to be handed over. Given at the Bishop’s House, Newry, on this the twenty-sixth day of January in the year of Our Lord one thousand nine hundred and eighty four” – Francis Gerard Brooks, Bishop of Dromore

With these words, Father Tom McConville became the last in a long line of much-loved curates of the Mayobridge section of Clonallon Parish and immediately became first Parish Priest of the new parish of St. Patrick’s, Clonallon, known locally as Mayobridge Parish.

Mayobridge or ‘Droichead Mhaigh Eo’, commonly known as ‘the Bridge’ and taking its name from the structure spanning the first stretch of the Clanrye River and separating the townlands of Mayo and Bavan, became a parish in its own right on 26th. January 1984. It had formerly been part of the Parish of Clonallon.

St Patrick’s Church Mayobridge Celebrates 150 years – A Short History – October 2012 

St Patrick’s church is erected on the site of a former mass rock and replaced an earlier church (or rather a small Mass house).  The original church was erected in 1806 and followed a T-shape design.  It was built of rough undressed stone and apparently cost £1000.

Fr Bernard Polin, a native of Castle Street in Newry, was responsible for the 1806 church, which was the first catholic church built in the Parish of Clonallon since the Reformation.  The new parochial hall, replacing the old hall, is believed to have been built on the site of the original church.

The present church was erected by Fr John Brennan, who was a native of Kildare and as administrator in Warrenpoint was responsible at that time for raising the money to build the church.  Fr Brennan died in hospital in Dublin on the 17th of December 1868, some six years after completing the church, at the relatively young age of 50 years.  He was interred in Burren cemetery.

Fr Hugh Mooney was appointed resident curate in Mayobridge in 1859, the year building work commenced on the Church.  He resided in the old Church of Ireland Vicarage, located on the main Newry road, just on the edge of the village.  A new presbytery (Parochial House) was built in due course and erected on the current site opposite the church and this was completed in 1885.

St Patrick’s Church foundation stone was blessed by Dr Leahy, Coadjutor of the diocese, on the 15th of August 1859, and a little over three years later on the 12th of October 1862, the same pious prelate officiated at the dedication ceremony.  The preacher of the dedicatory sermon was the Bishop of Kerry, Dr David Moriarty.  As a result of his powerful appeal, the congregation subscribed over £500 towards the new church.

This fine Gothic-style building, which is reputed to be the largest ‘country’ church in the diocese, was designed by the renowned Dublin architect James Joseph McCarthy.  It covers an area of 6200 square feet and will accommodate 1400 persons.  The clerk of works was Mr John Murray, Dundalk who it was said had a local knowledge of materials and tradesmen and was therefore able to utilise same.  The beautiful hand-cut Newry granite is just one aspect of their craftsmanship.  The construction work was under taken by Armagh building contractor Mr McGaughy, and is reputed that the building cost in the region of £3000.

It was reported in the ‘Dublin Builder’ on 1st September 1862….. “The Church of Mayo Bridge reflects the highest honour on the Rev J Brennan and his flock, who have erected a temple worthy of the Most High.  On the 12th of October it will be solemnly dedicated.  Adjacent to the new church, schools have been facilitated for the instruction of the youth of the district”.

The church bell, now in its own structure, replaced a small bell on top of the church, which tumbled from there during a storm.  The present bell was made at Sheridan Eagle foundry-Dublin in 1866.

The Church has had many internal facelifts over its 150 years. In the more recent times, following a fire in 2003, the opportunity was taken to remove the brown block wall built at the rear of the sanctuary in the late 1960’s early 1970’s and reveal the original mouldings hidden for more than 30 years.

As well as removing the 1970’s altar rails, the whole Sanctuary was elevated and a new altar built, using as it frontispiece the centre of a side altar, which had been used in the church for Our Lady’s statue.  This old altar is reputed to have been originally located in St Mary’s Church, Burren at the beginning of the 1900’s and seems to have come to Mayobridge in the 1920’s or 1930’s following renovations/rebuilding in Burren.  A new marble lectern and marble celebrants chair were also added.  The side altar known as ‘Our Lady’s altar’ was also installed at this time.  It was originally carved in Italy and was the first altar in the convent when it was built in 1924.   The modern style Baptismal Font was removed and replaced with an old style sandstone font, which had lain unused in one of the side porches for many years.  More recently, two new stain glass windows were dedicated to St Francis and St Clare.  These renovations and additions, together with the other very fine and ornate late 19th Century Gothic Revival style and 20th Century Figurative stained glass windows truly add to the beauty and character of our Church.

To celebrate the 150 years since the opening of our Church ‘The Stations of the Cross’ have been refurbished to reflect the gothic character of the Church and other minor renovations have been undertaken to add to the overall comfort for users of the Church.

Townlands of the Parish

AughnagunAchadh na ngambain: the field of the calves, or Ath na ghun: forest of the hounds.

BallydulaneyBaile Dubh lainne: the dark townland of the road or pass.

BallyvalleyBaile an bhealaigh: townland of the road or pass.

BavanBadhun: a cattle enclosure.

Cabragh Cabrach: bad land, poor quality, mountain grazing very infertile.

CarnmeenCeathranhadh Mhin: the level quarter. The old townlands or `Ballybetaghs’ were often divided into quarters, each of which was usually designated by the word `Ceathramhadh’ or `Ceathru’. The four quarters into which the townland was divided were generally distinguished by their size, shape and the quality of the land. The measure of the level quarter was that understood by native speakers in the district in the mid-I800s.

Part of CarnaneyCeathramhadh Eanaigh: the marshy quarter.

CarrickcrossanCarraig Mhic an Chrossain: O’Crossan’s rock or the rocky land of Crossan or Crosbie. Another interpretation for this townland name is the rock of the little crosses. The former appears more authentic however since the land therein is a mass of rocks and boulders with very little arable content.

CroanCruadhan: very hard ground, of poor quality and of little use for farmers.

CullionBode an Churilinn/Cuileann: The townland of the holly tree. It probably had `baffle’ as a prefix.

EdentrumleyEadan Tromlaigh: the hill-brow of the elder or boor tree.

MayoMaigh Eo: the plain of the Yew trees.

Part of TamnaharryTainhnach na Cairthe: the green field of the pillar stone – the pillar stone being located in the valley behind Tamnaharry Mountain.

Rosaleeen Joyce nee Malone reminisences of Mayobridge