Coolagown Church

Coolagown Church was built in 1843 on the site of a smaller thatched building under the direction of the Parish Priest, Rev. Timothy O’Brien. Forty years later repairs were carried out by his successor Rev. Thomas Ferris. The parish register contains a facinating insight into the condition of the building. There was no ceiling inside or no chutes outside. There was no seating except for some rough stools which were privately owned. By May 1883 the ceiling and chutes had been restored. A tradesman from Fermoy named M. E. Sheehan put in a new front door, an inside porch and also lowered and shortened the gallery. A new alter rail was installed and the two transcepts were boarded, wainscotted and sealed. In later years the gallery was removed.

In the 1920's the church was reroofed by the Parish Priest Fr. Browne. This was done by the local people contributing as many slates as they could afford. At one time an annual dance was held in Kilmagner school and the proceeds went to the upkeep of the church. The brass bell still in use was bought from the proceeds of one of the dances for the sum of two pounds. The inside porch was replaced in 1954 and this was funded by Cal Kent of Coolagown. The Church contains stain glass windows donated by the Parishioners.

The Stations of The Cross were donated by a committee in New York, comprised mainly of emigrants from the Fermoy area as a memorial to the Kents of Bawnard. These were officially handed over on Sunday 3rd May 1964 to Rev. Thomas Fitzgerald, P P Castlelyons by Richard Smyth a member of the New York committee.

The church is described as a freestanding T-plan gabled fronted church, facing east, having shallow breakfront, bellcote, two-bay nave elevations and a recent extension to the west. Pitched slate roof with carved limestone cross finials to transcept gables and painted rendered copings and pinnacles to gable-front. Limestone open-work bellcote surmounted by carved limestone cross finial and bell. Elaborate carved timber tripartite backdrop to altar, comprising of ogree-arched pediment to centre and flat arches to sides. The latter having pointed arch doorways with elaborately carved timber pannelled doors. Each part of the backdrop being supported on clustered columns and engaged columns, with ornate entablature. Painting of the Last Supper to wall above plain timber altar.

The simple form of the church is enlivened by the articulation to the gable-front, with its ornate render mouldings and pinnacles. The sandstone breakfront also provides a decorative focus and chromatic and textural variation. The bellcote and limestone dressings are finely carved and are indicitave of the quality of ninetheenth-century craftmanship. The elaborate timber backdrop to the altar and the flanking doors are excellent examples of Gothic Revival carpentary and makes this one of the most ornate in any church in County Cork.

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