The Parishes of Bantry Bay

St. Brendan's Church, Bantry  
St. James Church, Durrus    

The Church of St. Brendan the Navigator, Bantry

Our Parish is called by the ancient Irish parish name of Kilmocomogue which is the name of the area or townland where the first Church was erected, near the village of Kealkil. Kilmocomogue Burial Ground is still there. There have been many different spellings offered throughout the centuries - the most unusual being Kylmocowoge (1550). The origin of Kilmocomogue is clearly the Church of Mochomogue. In Irish Mochomogue means 'my young Colman' as in a term of endearment.  There are more than 300 Irish Saints named Colman. The best known are four - Colman of Cloyne circa 530 ad, Dromore circa 514ad, Kilmacduagh circa 632ad and Lindisfarne circa 676ad. Two further possibilities exist also - Saint Colman of Kinneigh is suggested by Jeremiah O’Mahony in ‘West Cork and it’s story’. He was an associate of Fin Barre as was Colman of Cloyne. Also suggested by Sister Angela in ‘Parish Histories and place names of West Cork’ is a St. Coman with a direct association with Bantry. We are not certain but it is quite likely to be either Colman of Cloyne or Colman of Kinneigh. 

The first reference to a Church of Ireland Church building is in ‘Clerical and Parochial Records of Cork, Cloyne and Ross’ by W.M. Brady in 1699. He wrote  ‘the Church stood 3 miles to the north east of Bantry in a ruinous condition’. This of course refers to the Church at Kilmocomogue, Kealkil. Brady continues ‘there is a cabin built on purpose for a chapel in Bantry’. An Act of Parliament was passed in 1704 transferring the Ecclesiastical centre to Bantry at Garraidhe Ui Mhurchadha. From "Lewis's Topographic Atlas" (1837). There is a recorded burial in Garraidhe UiMhurchadha in 1781. Services were also conducted in Glengarriff, Ballylickey and Cappanaloha at the Rectory.  Reference is made in 1747 to the fact that there were 2 or 3 resident Clergy in the Parish of Kilmocomogue and a reference is also made to there being a decent Parish Church. 

That site at Church Road was abandoned in 1818 and the present building was erected on land donated by the First Earl of Bantry, Richard White. The building began in 1818 and was finally completed in 1828. It is described as being in the early English style  ‘oblong with a tower in three stages in which is a porch and with vestry but without trancepts or spire -  a neat structure’.  The interior was completely refurbished in 1859 when pews and a gallery were installed. Stained glass windows given by the Earl of Bantry in memory of the Countess were installed. In the 1880’s further refurbishment was carried out when the Bell was added at a cost of £130. The church was then tiled and the organ was donated by Revd. W. R. Gilbert. The first time the town clock on the Church was rung was to herald in the 20th Century.  Over the years since then each generation has cared for the church and added improvements. The Church was dedicated to St. Brendan the Navigator in 1999 with improvements added to the heating and electical system. Most recently in 2015 & 2016 we have had the Baker refurbishment.