The first church was erected in the parish by St. Colman in the sixth century. It became the mother church of the diocese which bears the same name. The present diocese has 46 parishes of which Cloyne is one.
There are now four churches in the parish – St. Colman’s, Cloyne; St. Colmcille, Churchtown South; Church of the Immaculate Conception, Shanagarry and Star of the Sea, Ballycotton.
St. Colman’s Church, Cloyne
Celebrated its bicentenary in 2015, St. Colmans was renovated over a five year period in the 1980s and was re-blessed in 1989. It was the first Catholic Church built in the parish after the difficulties encountered during the Reformation. In the intervening period Mass was offered in private houses, in the open, or at the sites of ruined churches.
St. Colmcille’s, Churchtown South
The Church was extensively renovated 1978 – 1985. There is a stained glass window commemorating this renovation by Muintir na Tire in the church porch. The Church also has a golden jubilee commemoration plaque to commemorate 50 years of Muintir na Tire 1937 – 1987. The Church has many stained glass windows commemorating local families.
Immaculate Conception, Shanagarry
Built in 1814, it celebrated its bicentenary in 2014. It was originally named in honour of St. Macha (sister of St. Colman). It was not until 1835 that Shanagarry (the old parish of Mahon Kil) was added to Cloyne parish. The church served as a place of worship for the entire area stretching to Ballycotton until after 1844. Some stained-glass in the church, commemorates the 1798 rebellion.
Star of the Sea, Ballycotton
Until the year 1844, 500 to 600 Catholics from Ballycotton had to walk to Shanagarry for Mass, due to the lack of land available to build a permanent church in Ballycotton. A temporary church or Mass house (a thatched cabin open at one end) was finally established and was replaced by the present church opened in 1901.
As quoted by former Parish Priest Canon Donal O’Driscoll “We, Irish Catholics, have inherited a magnificent legacy of churchs and cathedrals, built by our ancestors in difficult and impoverished times … it is our duty and our privilege to maintain them adequately as sacred edifices for divine worship, and to transmit them as worthy churches to future generations.”