St. Malachys Roman Catholic Church Kilcoo, Co Down


St. Malacy's Catholic Church, in Kilcoo Village


on the road between Rathfriland and Downpatrick
Parochial House 121 Dublin Rd, Kilcoo, Newry BT34 5HP; Tel 4063 0314

The old church, in Ballymoney townland, was destroyed in the rebellion of 1641 and rebuilt in the village in 1760. Burials contined at the old site. Prior to being rebuilt, Mass was celebrated on an altar built of sods and stones under the shade of a large thorn bush in Drumena townland. Mass was also celebrated at the friary in Moneyscalp and at Burren Rock where two cavities which one held Holy Water are still cut into the rock. The site of the present church was also hallowed by the great sacrifice having been there offered up in the days of persecution on a large stone which was built into the eastern wall of the churchyard. The old chapel was in ruins in 1836 with only parts of 3 walls remaining, built of rough stones about 30cm wide , filled up with smaller stones and a great quantity of mortar; now part of the graveyard of St. Malacy's. The parish priest in 1780 was Rev. Daniel O'Doran & before his death in 1798 was Rev. John Fitzsimons.

This church (left) was built by Rev. Hugh Smith (priest since 1798) in 1802, the date being inscribed on the lintel of the eastern door. It was a plain, slated building in the form of a parallelogram. Inside it has 2 galleries with a painting over the altar of the crucifixion and held 300 people. The parish priest in in 1819 was Rev. Michael O'Hagan after his uncle Rev. Cormac O'Hagan & in 1836 was Rev. Hugh O'Neill of Ballymoney & Rev. Hugh Connor 1856-1888. The church rebuilt again 1901 during the pastorate of Rev. Patrick Magee (1889- 1914) and again in 2005

The name Kilcoo means ' the church of mourning' and tradition says that the body of St. Patrick was waked here.

PRONI & NLI have baptisms 1832-1880; UHF has baptisms 1832-1899 & marriages 1899-1900, graveyard in old church grounds adjoining.

List of Priests 20th century:
Rev. Patrick McGee- 1914; Rev. John Eardly 1916-1920; Rev. Charles McKenna 1920-1929; Rev. James McGrath 1929-1941; Rev. Charles O'Neill 1941- 1955; Rev. Hugh Walls 1955-1972; Rev. Gerald Laverty 1972- 1979; Rev. Charles Denvir 1979- 1994; Rev. Anthony Alexander 1994+

(Info sourced from


St. Malachys Roman Catholic Church Kilcoo, Co Down