Fáilte Romhat

  History of Methodists in Clonakilty

History of Methodists in Clonakilty

METHODISM started in Clonakilty in a small way. About the year 1796 some members of the Society met for Services in the home of a well-to-do weaver named William Abbot who lived in Main Street. Later when the numbers grew a room was rented in Myrtle Grove House (opposite the Roman Catholic Church).

Soon the necessity of a regular Church became apparent and a building was started in Bank St. in 1811, and opened for worship in 1812. It was built on the same site as the present Church but was facing east and west and was further back from the street.

The first Minister's dwelling house, or Manse, was one of the houses near the Church (now occupied by Mr. Murray). Since then different houses on the Square were rented for short periods until the present Manse, No. 3 Shannon Square, was acquired in 1867.

Rev. Andrew Hamilton was the first resident Minister in Clonakilty. Nearly 50 years later the Church was rebuilt as it is to-day, and was opened in 1860 (architect James Fitzpatrick).

There was also a Methodist day-school held in the class room which was built on to the Church in 1860. In 1863 the school was under the National School Board.

William Patterson (father of the Miss Patterson who had a shop in Mill St.) and his assistant were the last to teach here as the number of pupils had risen to 67 and a new School House and Teacher's residence were built on the Western Rd., in 1885 and the school was moved there. (School teacher's house now rented by Messrs. Atkins for their shop and store manager and School House rented by the F.C.A.).

One of the teachers in the Western Road School was T. J. Irvine who later became Head Master of Wesley College, Dublin. In 1907 the numbers fell below the National School Board's minimum figures and the school was closed. More recently the school was run privately by various teachers until about 1945 when through lack of numbers the school was again closed.

Thomas Bennett who bought Shannon Vale Mills in 1852, did much for the cause of Methodism in Clonakilty and district. He opened his home in Shannon Vale for the holding of services and when the numbers increased, he had an outhouse on his grounds completely overhauled and converted into a small Church. This was formally opened in October, 1867 and services conducted either by the Clonakilty Minister or lay-preachers were held here until 1945. The Shannon Vale Sunday school continued on until 1956 when it was closed through lack of pupils.


There is a Methodist Church and yard mentioned in Valuation Book, in Boyle St., in 1851, and as an occupier's name is given and not that of a Minister could this have been the day-school? We have no trace of where the school (if any) was held before the building of the class room in 1860 as described above.

The Episcopal Church loaned one of its buildings for the conducting of Methodist services when the Church was being rebuilt in 1860. This building was the Protestant Infant School also in Bank St. Later it was a Masonic Lodge and now the "Town Hall"

Presbyterian Day-school held in room at back of their Church.    (Now P.O. sorting room).

F. E. Bennett

Clonakilty District Past & Present  - A Tourist guide to the area -[158 pages, forward dated 1959] The guide was published by the Southern Star Ltd for the Clonakilty C.Y.M.S.

My thanks to Henry McFadden for providing this information.