St Patrick’s – Cullyhanna

St Patrick’s Church is the main church of the parish, serving Cullyhanna and the surrounding townlands.


Before the parish of Lower Creggan was formed in 1795, the people’s needs were served by mass-houses, one of which was in the townland of Tullinavall on land owned by Mrs Mary Mackin and quite close to where St. Patrick’s Gaelic football field now stands. These mass-houses were little more than hovels and were known in Irish as bothóg or ‘hut’.

The first Catholic Chapel was erected around the early 1770s by the then Parish Priest of Creggan Parish Fr. Terence Ignatius Quinn. It was a thatched building and was known as Tullinafruchog (the hill of the Blaeberry) Chapel.

Detail of stained glass window of St. Patrick from the church

After the separation of the parish of Creggan in 1795, Fr. Patrick Quinn was appointed as the first parish priest of Lower Creggan and was assisted by a Dominican friar, Fr. Paul McDonough.

The United Irishmen were strong in the Cullyhanna area at that time and local tradition has recorded that during the Rising of 1798 a company of Welsh Cavalry were camped on Connell’s Height and it is understood that they stabled their horses in Tullinafruchog Chapel. Both Fr. Quinn and Friar McDonough were arrested on suspicion of being United Irishmen and imprisoned in Armagh Gaol.

In 1799, Friar McDonough was sent to the south of Ireland to await transportation to Tasmania, an island off the south coast of Australia. Friar McDonough somehow escaped and returned to Lower Creggan and continued to serve his parish priest until the death of Fr. Quinn in 1801. Fr. Quinn was buried in Tullinafruchog Chapel.

Friar McDonough continued as curate to the incoming Parish Priest, Fr. Patrick Corrigan who reigned only from 1801 until his death in 1803. Fr. Corrigan was not buried in Tullinafruchog Chapel, but the late Cardinal Tomás Ó Fiaich suggested that he was buried at Port, Co Louth. He was succeeded as Parish Priest by Fr John Donnelly and it was in 1807 that Fr. John re-roofed Tullinafruchog Chapel with slates taken from the local slate quarry and he carried out other minor repairs at the same time with the help of his curate Friar Paul McDonough.

By 1819 Fr. Donnelly suffered a severe blow by the death of his legendary curate Friar McDonough; he was buried in Tullinafruchog Chapel and to add to the legend tradition recounts how, when in 1891 Fr. Kerley had the remains of 5 priests buried in Tullinafruchog Chapel re-interred under the bell tower of the New St. Patrick’s Church. The body of Friar McDonough was instantly recognisable because his long fair hair had been untouched by decay.

On the death of Fr. Donnelly in 1836 his body was buried in Tullinafruchog Chapel and Fr Michael Caraher was appointed Parish Priest of Lower Creggan. Fr Caraher extended Tullinafruchog Chapel by adding the aisle and gallery and was responsible for building a new parochial house on the site known as McGinn’s which was a short distance from the chapel on the Slatequarry Road.

After ten years as parish priest and the legacy of impressive building work behind him Fr. Caraher died in Dublin on St. Patrick’s Day, 1846 and was also buried in Tullinafruchog Chapel.

Gallery of photos of St. Patrick’s