Moygownagh History in Co. Mayo

The story of how the parish got its name is told in the 7th century Life of St. Cormac, taken from McFirbis. It relates how St. Cormac while on a journey, came to the place called Moygownagh, where he met St. Daria who was abbess of a nunnery there. She received him so hospitably that on his departure he blessed her and her place of habitation, and prayed that Moygownagh would abound in cows and herds. His prayers were answered, and from then on the place was known as Mag Gamhnach, which means 'Plain of the cows with calves'.

Although the feast of St. Daire falls on the 26th October, there is no monument in the parish erected in her honour. St. Cormac, however, gives his name to the church. It is thought that St. Daire’s Convent was situated where the old cemetery now stands.

In ancient times, Moygownagh, most of Kilfian and a small part of Crossmolina formed the territory known as Bredach. It would appear that long before the coming of the Welsh Normans in the 13th century, or the formation of the present parish, this district of Bredach formed a unit of ecclesiastical as well as of civil administration.

There was a Protestant church near Garranard Post Office which itself was the parson’s residence. The stones remaining in the old Protestent church were used by Patrick Quinn in the foundation of the present parochial house when he was building it.

The present church was built in 1846 by Father James McNamera. It is situated in Ardvarney townland, once owned by landlord called Stackpole.

By Gretta Lynott

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