The Church of the Immaculate Conception – (Drung Church)
The parish of Drung was united with the parish of Laragh from the end of the fourteenth century until the middle of the eighteenth century. The parish priests throughout this period were, almost always, members of the MacBrady family. In 1396 Augustin MacBradaigh was made vicar of Drung when the previous parish priest, Gilbert MacBradaigh, was made bishop of Ardagh. In 1419 Augustin MacBradaigh complained to Rome that the tithes and greater part of the fruits of the parish were going to the priory of Fore and that his income of ten marks was insufficient for his support and for the repair of the churches, for hospitality and other burdens imposed on him.
It appears that the parishes of Drung and Laragh separated sometime in the early 1700s and that Fr Valentine Tully, who died in 1749, was the first parish priest of the separate parish of Drung. It was probably after this separation, when Drung had its own parish priest, that the chapel in Magherintemple closed down and that a chapel was built in Bunnoe. Drung remained a separate parish until 1969 when it was united with the neighbouring parish of Kilsherdany.
The medieval church in Drung was dedicated to St Patrick and it was situated in the old cemetery in the townland of Drung. Following the Reformation this church was used as a parish church by the Church of Ireland community and the cemetery continued to be used as a burial place by both Catholics and Protestants. By the early 1600s this church was in bad repair and the Baronial map of this period shows the church to be without a roof. The ruins of the rectangular church which have survived in Drung old cemetery appear to date from the first half of the seventeenth century.
In 1769 a chapel, which could accommodate 600 people, was built in the townland of Drumauna. Fr James Brady, a native of Ballintemple parish, was parish priest of Drung from 1943 to 1950 and it was during this time that the work began on building a new church at Drung. In 1948 a cornerstone was taken from the church in Drumauna and built into the present church. Fr Brady was transferred to Belturbet in 1950, before the church in Drung was completed. The Church of the Immaculate Conception in Drung was dedicated by Bishop Austin Quinn on 16 September 1951.
St Mary’s Church – (Bunnoe Church)
The earliest chapel in the Bunnoe area of the parish was the chapel of Saints Columba and Canice which was situated in a hill top enclosure in the townland of Magherintemple. Some fragments of cut stone from this church can be found in the old graveyard there. This was a chapel of ease and throughout the middle ages the priests who served this chapel were almost always members of the O’Fay family. In 1407, Nemeas O’Fay, who was parish priest of Annagh, wrote to Rome to say the church in Magherintemple ‘is more decent and populous’ than the parish church at Drung, and that between the two churches flows a great river (the Annalee) ‘which cannot be crossed at times without danger of drowning’. Nemeas O’Fay went on to explain that he had recently repaired the chapel at his own expense and that he keeps a house of hospitality close by. He asked, and was granted, the use of the chapel and the tithes that go with it. The connection between O’Fay family and Magherintemple continued into the early decades of the 1700s when Fr Philip Fay was listed as being attached to the chapel there.
Sometime, about the year 1770, a chapel was built in the townland of Lisboduff called ‘Bunnoe chapel’. It was situated on the opposite side of the road to the present day church in a field called ‘the chapel meadow’. It was a large rectangular, clay-walled church which could accommodate 500 people. A new church, the present day St Mary’s Church, was in the process of being built when on 6 January 1839, the night of the big wind, the storm knocked some of the walls down. As a result of this setback St Mary’s Church was not completed until 1843. In 1953, when Fr Patrick Morris was curate, major work was carried out and the belfry was removed. Changes have been made several times since then, most notably in 2013, when a new rererdos, new flooring and new seats were installed.
St Brigid’s Church – (Kill Church)
The medieval church of Kilsherdany was situated in the large semi-circular graveyard in the townland of Drumhurt. It was traditionally the Church of the O’Sheridans, hence the name Kilsherdany for both the church and the parish. This church was dedicated both to St Bridget of Kildare and to the lesser known St Finncheall. In 1444 Edmund O’Sheridan, although not yet ordained, was given the perpetual vicarage of Kilsherdany, which was valued at 12 marks. Bishop Francis MacKiernan, in his Diocese of Kilmore, Bishops and Priests 1136-1988 lists eight other fifteenth century parish priests of Kilsherdany, several of whom belonged to the MacBradaigh sept. The parish, like several other parishes in the diocese of Kilmore, paid tithes to the Benedictine priory in Fore.
The old cemetery at Kill has many eighteenth century headstones and among those buried there are Fr Bryan Reilly, who was ordained by St Oliver Plunkett in Rosslough, County Louth in 1671. He was parish priest of Kill and died on 31 July 1722. Bishop Charles O’Reilly is also buried there. He was appointed coadjutor bishop of Kilmore in 1793 and became bishop of the diocese in 1798. However, he was bishop of the diocese for just fifteen months. He died on 5 March 1800.
Following the easing of the penal laws from 1750 onwards the Catholics of the parish were able to build small chapels once more. The 1826 Education Report stated that there was a chapel in the townland of Cornamuckla. It was used as a school during the week. In that same year a new church was built in the townland of Drumhurt which was able to accommodate 700 people. The plaque on the church read: Ad majorem Dei gloriam/hoc templum edificatuum/fuit A.D. 1826/ Felici McCabe Pastore. The Fr Felix McCabe mentioned in the plaque was parish priest of Kilsherdany from 1814 until his death in 1842. In 1847 a nave, vestry and bell-tower were added. According to tradition some of the priests of the parish resided in the bell-tower during the second half of the nineteenth century. In 1977, while Fr John Quinn was curate, extensive alterations were carried out. The church was rededicated on 9 June 1977.
St Patrick’s Church – (Corick Church)
Lieutenant P. Taylor wrote in his Ordnance Survey Report of 1835 that ‘Corick chapel, built in the year 1769 in the townland of Drumurry, accommodates 300 parishioners [and] the Revd Thomas Reilly is the officiating curate.’ This eighteenth century chapel was a built in the shape of an elongated thatched cottage. It measured 98’ x 18’ and was only eight feet high. It was not unusual for Mass houses and chapels to be used for other purposes such as threshing corn, teaching school and holding political meetings. The tradition is that Corick chapel was used as a threshing barn in winter and that it was swept out each weekend in preparation for Sunday Mass. This chapel, which had stone foundations and mud walls, was blown down in a wind storm in December 1861.
In the early 1860s Colonel Clements gave a site for a new church in Corick and William Hague, the well-known gothic-revivalist, was employed as architect. The church was built by the McGennis family from Tullyvin. A member of that family, Fr Edward McGennis, was later to become Bishop of Kilmore. The new St Patrick’s church was dedicated on 31 May 1863. This small church is one of Hague’s simpler designs. It is a simple lancet style church and it has the Hague trademark of polychromatic brickwork above the window reveals. Like all the Hague churches it is well built and is aesthetically pleasing.
In the early 1990s major restoration work was carried out on it. The main contractors were J.J. McCauley and sons. The Tiernan family made the sanctuary pieces and carried out the other decorative woodwork. Martin O’Reilly carried out the stonework and painting. It was re-dedicated by Bishop Francis MacKiernan on 30 June 1996.