Bangor Church in Co. Mayo

Bangor had a Catholic chapel from the time it was built. Previous to this the chapel was situated in 'Loragan', and this building was converted into a school-house. In 1826 the master here was P. Dollard. The chapel at Bangor was a small thatched building described by Caesar Otway in 1834 as of "mean dimensions".

In 1839 the roof was blown off it in the "Big Wind", but it was quickly repaired and roofed with slates. In 1856 this building was replaced by a new church on the same site built by Dominic Madden. In 1900 Father Tomas Dolphin had this latter church enlarged. In 1947 Canon Michael O'Donnell had the present church built slightly further in on the site than the previous ones. It was given extensive renovations and improvements in 1971 by Father James Gilvarry.

I think, but am not certain, that the church in Bangor rated as the Parish church for Kilcommon East up to the present division in 1873. The Parish Priest also resided in that part of the parish and one register in his charge continued to be kept in Bangor, where the older ones are still kept. In 1704 the P.P Father James Munnelly, lived at "Cloontakilly", so that the tradition of the P.P living in this area goes back that far, at least.

Father Michael Conway, known as "the sagart bán", was P.P of the old Kilcommon parish from 1839 to 1853 and lived in Shramore, about a mile from Bangor. Father Michael Munnelly, the first P.P of the newly-defined parish, lived in Bangor, but I do not know which house. When Father James Durcan came in 1877, he lived at first with his sister in the village, and had the Parochial house at Attavalla built in 1884. When he was dying in 1900 he mistakenly willed the house to his sister with his other effects and Bishop Conway had to buy it back for the parish with funds then at the disposal of St. Muredach's College. The house was subsequently enlarged and improved but I do not know when this occured.

When the chapel was built in Bangor, Glenco was vacated and converted into a school taught by P. Dollard, according to the second report of the Commissioners of Irish Education Inquiry, 1826. Hence Bangor chapel must have been built prior to that date. The year of it's erection , therefore, seems to lie between 1798 and 1826, so in all probability 1815 is the correct date.

The thatched chapel was in existence in1840, but was knocked some years later by a severe storm, and Mass was then celebrated in an old hedge school, at "Cnocán na Sgoile", about half a mile east of Bangor. The traces of that building are still to be seen among the bushes on the south side "Cnocán na Sgoile", as the hillock is still called. The old people refer to the place as "Pobal Muing n-alt dubh". The Little stream flowing past it is called "Muing n-alt dubh 2".

Father Gildea, who was parish priest of Kilcommon lived in Sheskin, about eight miles from Bangor, and had to travel that long distance on horseback to celebrate Mass. He was given a residence in Sheskin by J. McDonald, M.P for Mayo, who owned the place. His residence was destroyed by a landslide and then he came to reside in Bangor. Rev. Michael Conway, P.P ministered in the parish from 1846 until his death in 1853. Rev. Dominick Madden P.P, succeeded him and built the present chapel in 1855.

The Principal tradesman being John Lynn (Briska). In 1860 Rev. M. Munnelly P.P was appointed to the parish, and he furnished the chapel with 'Stations of the Cross', eighteen new seats and a new floor. In 1872 the wall around it was built by two local masons, Edward Deane and Joseph Gallagher, and the same year, Pat Lynn, Bangor, carved out and erected the beautiful stone cross now to be seen on the north gable. This cross is a splendid piece of workmanship and cost only £1.10.

Prior to 1873, the official parish of Kilcommon was divided into two ecclesiastical parishes only, Belmullet and Kilcommon. The parish priest of the former lived in Belmullet, and of the latter in Bangor. On the 5th of September 1873, Kilcommon was sub-divided into Kilcommon, Kiltane, and Geesala which hitherto formed part of Belmullet later transferred to Kiltane.

Rev. M. Munnelly who was in the parish at the time remained in Kiltane and Rev. John Melvin was appointed Parish Priest of Kilcommon now known as Aughoose. In 1877 Rev. M. Munnelly P.P went to Kilmore and Rev. James Durcan P.P succeeded him in Kiltane. The Parochial house in Attavalla was built by him in 1884. When he died in 1900 Rev. Thomas Dolphin P.P was appointed and after his death in 1927 the present parish priest Rev. P. Hewson came to Bangor. Rev. James Durcan P.P left a sum of money for the repair of the chapel and in 1931 the southern gable was knocked and the building extended eighteen feet outwards. The chapel is now 64 feet long by 25 feet broad.

Put together by the 5th & 6th class pupils of Bangor National School.

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