St Colman's Church, Claremorris in Co. Mayo

St. Colman's Church was built by Rt. Rev. Monsignor Kilkenny P.P., D.D., V.G., and dedicated to Our Lady of Good Counsel by Archbishop Healy on October 8th 1911. The sermon was preached by Dr. Gilmartin, Bishop of Clonfert, afterwards Archbishop of Tuam. The architect was Mr. R.M. Butler and the style is early English gothic.

Although dedicated to Our Lady of Good Counsel, the Church continues to be known as St. Colman's. The parish is also called Kilcolman. Why? The reason brings us back to the seventh century.

St. Colman was born in the West of Ireland. He received his religious training at Bangor and afterwards in Iona. He succeeded St. Finian as Abbot in seeking missionaries from Iona. St. Colman disagreed about the date of Easter and kept his view by the Irish custom. He lost his case at the Conference of Whitby in 664. He refused to abandon the practise of "Sainty Elders of the Irish Church".

As a result he departed from Britain to a small island in the West of Ireland called Innisboffin, taking with him all the Irish he had assembled.He built a monastery but his Saxon Irish monks could nor agree. St. Colman travelled inward and founded a new monastery at Maigh Eo, to which he transferred his Saxon monks with St.Gerald as their first abbot.

It afterward became a famous Monastic school. Hence the place name today of "Mayo Abbey" and the historical title "Mayo of the Saxons". The Abbey was granted diverse portions of land including such places as Garranabba and Kilcolman which are still place names within the Claremorris parish.

St. Colman is the patron saint of Claremorris and died in Innisboffin in 676. He is honoured not only in the popular name of the present parish church but also in the name of an ancient church ruin (Kilcolman Church) and the graveyard close to the geographical centre of the parish. St. Colmans's is the name of the local boy's secondary school. Some boy of the parish are given the name Colman at baptism.

Cardinal D'Alton, a native of Claremorris, bequeathed to the parish church but also the De Burgo pattern gold chalice which was presented to him by the priests and people of Claremorris on the occasion of his elevation to the Sacred College, January 1953. The pulpit in the church is to the memory of Mrs. Mary McElroy who died 13th December 1924. She was the mother of Cardinal D'Alton by her first marriage.

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