© Oughterard Parish 2017
The Parish of Oughterard

+353 91 55 22 90

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Parish History

The parish of Oughterard was originally known as Kilcummin Parish. However, changes occurring post 1829 Catholic Emancipation and the setting up of Galway Diocese in 1831 saw parishes often renamed after villages and towns hosting new parish churches. Today, Oughterard Parish, centred around its new church of 1837, occupies part of the ancient lands of Gnó Mór in the barony of Moycullen. It is now bounded on the north and east by Lough Corrib, to the west by the parish of Rosmuc and by Killanin Parish to the south. Like other parishes in Connemara, its territory varied during diocesan boundary alterations in the 19th century, when its clergy officiated for a period as far west as Carraroe, Rosmuck, Lettermore and Lettermullen. Tradition states that the old title, Kilcummin, comes from the Gaelic Cill Chumin, or the Church of St. Cuimin, suggesting an enduring Christian tradition in the area. The original Early Christian site of Cuimin is no longer evident, but it once stood near Owenriff River where a well dedicated to the saint was the annual scene of pilgrimage on 14 October. The ruins of a post 14th century church there denote continuity of devotion in these lands west of Lough Corrib, which eventually saw the parish being transferred from the diocese of Annaghdown to the wardenship of Galway on 23 January, 1488. Not surprisingly, incumbent clerics Roderick Canavan and Owen O’Flaherty claimed their former ‘livings’ from Oughterard but to no avail. Subsequent national conflicts and religious intolerance inherent in the 18th century Penal Laws impinged in the lives of the people to such an extent that Fr. William Joyce, who was ordained in 1674, had to register as a ‘Popish Parish Priest’ of Kilcummin in 1704. As well, there was no Catholic church in this impoverished parish until what was described as ‘a diminutive thatched shed was created surreptitiously in Rushveala townland, which acted as church on Sundays and a school on weekdays’. To try to better these conditions, Fr. Joseph Kirwan, who was elected a junior vicar of the Galway wardenship in 1827, chose the vacated parish of Kilcummin, where as the new parish priest, he set about the task of building a parish church, presbytery and rather surprisingly, a dispensary. To achieve this noble aim, he collected funds through his talents as an effective public speaker travelling as far as London in his efforts, where Daniel O’Connell chaired one of his speaking engagements. Fr. Kirwan had the satisfaction eventually of having the church, the second largest in the county after Tuam, consecrated by Galway’s first bishop, Dr. George Browne under the dedication of St. Mary, on 24 August, 1837. However, he later became involved in a dispute between two landlords, over the land on which the church and presbytery were built. Thankfully, this infamous legal dispute between noted Connemara families of O’Flaherty and Martyn was finally settled by the intervention of Daniel O’Connell, to the satisfaction of all concerned in 1840. The church also suffered other setbacks not least when its roof was damaged in the ‘Night of the Big Wind’ on 6 January, 1839 and also when January 1879 saw a disastrous fire destroy most of the building. The original church incorporated a Gothic design, with a front façade flanked by two towers, all overshadowed by a large bell tower. It was built by Brady construction company of Nuns’ Island in Galway, which later got the contract to build the new university in the city. Later, reconstruction work, costing £8,000 was carried out between 1932-4 by Archdeacon Mark Conroy, P.P., with Maurice Sweeney as architect. This brought changes to the roof, nave and altar, the latter a product of the Galway Marble Industries, while the chancel window depicting the crucifixion, a feature of the present church, was by Harry Clarke Studios. Fr. M. A. Kavanagh, P.P., 1812-64 as well as being involved with the Sisters of Mercy in settling up their convent in Oughterard in 1858, also had to offset intense proselytising especially in the northern section of the parish. He built an auxiliary church dedicated to Our Lady of the Valley at Glann on a site overlooking Upper Lough Corrib. The foundation stone states that it was laid by Archbishop McHale on 4 June, 1852. This church served this lake district well until it was demolished to make way for a new building, which was blessed and opened by Bishop Browne on 15 August, 1960. Designed by architect Simon Kelly, the building is a simple rectangle and being in an exposed situation on the lakeshore, is designed to counter northerly winds with the windows set only on the lee side. Built at a cost of £7,800 by Fr. McCullagh, P.P., the church has a fine “Our Lady of the Glann’ window over the entrance depicting as well as the Virgin, a distant view of the village of Glann, Lough Corrib and Connemara mountains.
© Oughterard Parish 2017
The Parish of Oughterard

+353 91 55 22 90

Parish History

The parish of Oughterard was originally known as Kilcummin Parish. However, changes occurring post 1829 Catholic Emancipation and the setting up of Galway Diocese in 1831 saw parishes often renamed after villages and towns hosting new parish churches. Today, Oughterard Parish, centred around its new church of 1837, occupies part of the ancient lands of Gnó Mór in the barony of Moycullen. It is now bounded on the north and east by Lough Corrib, to the west by the parish of Rosmuc and by Killanin Parish to the south. Like other parishes in Connemara, its territory varied during diocesan boundary alterations in the 19th century, when its clergy officiated for a period as far west as Carraroe, Rosmuck, Lettermore and Lettermullen. Tradition states that the old title, Kilcummin, comes from the Gaelic Cill Chumin, or the Church of St. Cuimin, suggesting an enduring Christian tradition in the area. The original Early Christian site of Cuimin is no longer evident, but it once stood near Owenriff River where a well dedicated to the saint was the annual scene of pilgrimage on 14 October. The ruins of a post 14th century church there denote continuity of devotion in these lands west of Lough Corrib, which eventually saw the parish being transferred from the diocese of Annaghdown to the wardenship of Galway on 23 January, 1488. Not surprisingly, incumbent clerics Roderick Canavan and Owen O’Flaherty claimed their former ‘livings’ from Oughterard but to no avail. Subsequent national conflicts and religious intolerance inherent in the 18th century Penal Laws impinged in the lives of the people to such an extent that Fr. William Joyce, who was ordained in 1674, had to register as a ‘Popish Parish Priest’ of Kilcummin in 1704. As well, there was no Catholic church in this impoverished parish until what was described as ‘a diminutive thatched shed was created surreptitiously in Rushveala townland, which acted as church on Sundays and a school on weekdays’. To try to better these conditions, Fr. Joseph Kirwan, who was elected a junior vicar of the Galway wardenship in 1827, chose the vacated parish of Kilcummin, where as the new parish priest, he set about the task of building a parish church, presbytery and rather surprisingly, a dispensary. To achieve this noble aim, he collected funds through his talents as an effective public speaker travelling as far as London in his efforts, where Daniel O’Connell chaired one of his speaking engagements. Fr. Kirwan had the satisfaction eventually of having the church, the second largest in the county after Tuam, consecrated by Galway’s first bishop, Dr. George Browne under the dedication of St. Mary, on 24 August, 1837. However, he later became involved in a dispute between two landlords, over the land on which the church and presbytery were built. Thankfully, this infamous legal dispute between noted Connemara families of O’Flaherty and Martyn was finally settled by the intervention of Daniel O’Connell, to the satisfaction of all concerned in 1840. The church also suffered other setbacks not least when its roof was damaged in the ‘Night of the Big Wind’ on 6 January, 1839 and also when January 1879 saw a disastrous fire destroy most of the building. The original church incorporated a Gothic design, with a front façade flanked by two towers, all overshadowed by a large bell tower. It was built by Brady construction company of Nuns’ Island in Galway, which later got the contract to build the new university in the city. Later, reconstruction work, costing £8,000 was carried out between 1932-4 by Archdeacon Mark Conroy, P.P., with Maurice Sweeney as architect. This brought changes to the roof, nave and altar, the latter a product of the Galway Marble Industries, while the chancel window depicting the crucifixion, a feature of the present church, was by Harry Clarke Studios. Fr. M. A. Kavanagh, P.P., 1812-64 as well as being involved with the Sisters of Mercy in settling up their convent in Oughterard in 1858, also had to offset intense proselytising especially in the northern section of the parish. He built an auxiliary church dedicated to Our Lady of the Valley at Glann on a site overlooking Upper Lough Corrib. The foundation stone states that it was laid by Archbishop McHale on 4 June, 1852. This church served this lake district well until it was demolished to make way for a new building, which was blessed and opened by Bishop Browne on 15 August, 1960. Designed by architect Simon Kelly, the building is a simple rectangle and being in an exposed situation on the lakeshore, is designed to counter northerly winds with the windows set only on the lee side. Built at a cost of £7,800 by Fr. McCullagh, P.P., the church has a fine “Our Lady of the Glann’ window over the entrance depicting as well as the Virgin, a distant view of the village of Glann, Lough Corrib and Connemara mountains.