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Story of St. Mary's Church, Schull - mizenparish.com

Story of St. Mary’s Church, Schull

Story of our Church

Following the relaxation of the Penal Laws (due to the efforts of Daniel O’Connell in the British House of Commons) Catholics were again permitted to practice their Faith and to build churches. So, in 1826 the Catholic Church in Schull was built. It must have been a great occasion after nearly 200 years without a church. However, the building of Schull Church was subject to some restrictions imposed by the local Magistrate.

The roof of the church would have to be lower than the building across the road which was owned by a wealthy Protestant family and friend of the Magistrate. The entry to the church would have to be via one door at the north side.

The church was built by masons from Wales who were already building houses in the area. When completed the church was dedicated to the Virgin Mary and given the title ‘Church of the Blessed Virgin’.

The building of Schull Church took place in very poor times especially for the Catholic population and great credit is due to them. In 1903 the church underwent a major refurbishment under the stewardship of very Rev. Jeremiah O’Connor who was Parish Priest of Schull for 25 years. The walls were raised and the new front aisle was added. A beautiful high belfry altar was purchased from Italy and state of the art stations of the cross were installed also from Italy. The stained glass windows were supplied and fitted by a Dublin firm.

At a further dedication ceremony in 1903, the church was again given the title ‘Church of the Blessed Virgin’. About 1940, the old confessionals were replaced by beautiful designed new ones made by the O’Driscolls Carpenters, Ballydehob.

In recent years the church has become known as ‘St. Marys Church’. Fr. John Deasy P.R. fought hard to retain the original title but incoming priest seemed to favour the new title. Fr. Deasy was told that the change was necessary as ‘St. Marys’ was much more acceptable to our ‘Separated Brethren’ but Fr. Deasy insisted ‘St. Marys’ was not the Virgin Mother. With Fr. Deasy’s  Passing in 1981 the battle to retain the old title appears to be lost.