Church of the Sloes

The Church of the Sloes Killarney

St Mary's (Church of Ireland) Killarney, is a beautiful church in the heart of Killarney which serves a small congregation as well as tourists. There is evidence as far back as the 1200s of a Church in this area. The name of the Town itself Killarney (in Irish: Cill Airne) means Church of the Sloes.



  • Open daily 09:00-20:00
  • Sunday Service 11:00
  • Cultural events year-round
  • Baptisms, Weddings & Renewal of Vows by appt


About Us

The "Church of the Sloes" offers you a warm welcome. Our Church is open to people from any and every Christian tradition or of none. Ourselves? we are Anglican, part of the Church of Ireland.


† (Live on our Streaming Channel)
® (Recorded on YouTube Channel)

Monthly 2024
Every Friday
7pm: Christian Meditation ®
Every Saturday
9:30am: Orthodox Divine Liturgy
Every Sunday
11am: Holy Communion †®
1st Friday
2-5pm: Rectory Parish Social
2nd Sunday
10am: Quaker Meeting

changes or additions will be posted here.


Every Friday
at 7pm: Christian Meditation
Every Saturday
at 9:30am Orthodox Divine Liturgy
Every Sunday
at 11am: Holy Communion
     (unless otherwise indicated)

View Larger Conservation Appeal

Conservation Appeal:
for the intricate
decorative art
on our church's walls.


International appeal for funds to restore stained glass windows and wall art.
Read more

Donate here


If you'd like to see recent recordings visit our YouTube Channel "St Mary's Church Killarney" (NB not to be confused with St Mary's Cathedral Killarney!) and click on "Uploads/All Videos" then scroll down to find past recorded services for catch-up.

Live Stream

This is the live-stream from St Mary's "the Church of the Sloes" Killarney. This facility is installed by and funded by a generous anonymous donation.

You are welcome to join us each Sunday at 11am (Killarney local time) for our weekly service of worship. Otherwise you can avail of the recording posted above.

Concerts 2024

(E&OE. Dates/details may be altered)
All concerts 8pm unless indicated.

27 Jul Spraoi Chiarraí
03 Aug Spraoi Chiarraí
05 Aug Chapelhill Women's Chorus
17 Aug Tim O'Shea & Mike Kelliher
24 Aug Spraoi Chiarraí
20 Sep Tim O'Shea & Rosie Healy
26 Sep Grand Rapids Sweet Adeline


The Charitable Purpose of the Select Vestry of Parish of Killarney aka St Mary's (Church of the Sloes) of the Church of Ireland is the advancement of religion.
The Charitable Objects
The principal function of the Select Vestry of Parish of Killarney of the Church of Ireland is to support the advancement of the Christian religion by promoting, through the work of the Select Vestry of Parish of Killarney, the whole mission of the Church, pastoral, evangelistic, social and ecumenical. Being open to and engaging with society as a whole and offering support for those needing help are fundamental to the practical delivery of the benefits of Christianity.  As a result of activity in the pursuit of the advancement of the Christian religion, the Select Vestry of Parish of Killarney has custody of property and of records, materials, and artefacts of significance to the cultural and religious heritage and maintenance of which is undertaken by the Select Vestry of Parish of Killarney.


Your privacy matters to us
We will be open and transparent about any personal data that we collect about you via our website and other web services we offer.
Who we are:
 * We are the parish of St Mary’s (Church of Ireland) aka the Church of the Sloes
 * We are located at Kenmare Place in Killarney, Co Kerry
 * You can contact us on +353 (0)64 663 1832 or using our info@... email address
We may process your personal data:
 to respond to a query you might have sent us when you sign up to our newsletter to remember your viewing preferences to manage access to our website for other reasons including:
 * Processing your personal data is necessary to meet our legitimate interests in promoting our services and providing you with necessary information.
 * We will request and obtain your consent to collect personal data such as your name and email address.
  We will retain this personal data in accordance with legislative requirements and in line with our data retention policy.
Transfers of data outside the European Economic Area
We do not transfer any personal data outside the European Economic Area unless it is to the Church of Ireland which also operates in Northern Ireland (part of the United Kingdom.
Your rights relating to your personal data.
You have the following rights, subject to certain exemptions, in relation to your personal data:
 * right to access the data
 * right to rectification
 * right to erasure
 * right to restriction of processing or to object to processing
 * right to data portability.
If we are processing personal data based on your consent, you may withdraw that consent at any time.
Requirement to process personal data.
You may browse our website without providing us with any personal data and this will not affect your ability to view our website. However, if you do not provide us with your personal data we may not be able to respond to you. We do not use any personal data for the purpose of automated decision–making or profiling.
We implement security safeguards designed to protect your personal data.
If you are unhappy with how we process your personal data, we ask you to contact us so that we can assess the situation. You may also lodge a complaint with a supervisory authority. The Irish supervisory authority is the Data Protection Commission.
Changes to this policy.
Any changes to this policy will be posted on this website so you are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it.


The Select Vestry of the parish of St Mary’s (Church of Ireland) Killarney (aka the Church of the Sloes) is the data controller (contact details below).
We hold the following types of personal data: Contact Details; Family Details; Financial Information (if provided by you); CCTV images; Photographs; Any personal details provided by you in the course of your interaction with us.
Why do we hold your personal data? For the day to day running of the Parish; For Contractual Necessity; To meet our legal obligations; In the Public Interest.
Where do we hold your personal data? On our IT Server. In the Parish Office.
What measures have we put in place to keep your data secure? The Parish controls access to all personal data by:
 * Laptops, USB keys, smart phones and other forms of portable device are especially vulnerable to theft and accidental loss so will always be password-protected;
 * Updating software and virus protection on all systems, phones, laptops and portable devices.
 * Passwords on all devices.
 * Controlling access to personal data on a ‘need to know’ basis only.
 * Minimising the amount of personal data held by the Parish.
 * Archiving historical personal data with the Library of the Repesentative Body of the Church of Ireland in Dublin.
 * Introduction of Pseudonymisation.
All data is held in the Parish office in the Rectory; wireless, remote access or cloud storage is not employed.
Our Legal Obligations. The Data Protection Act (2018) and the General Data Protection Regulations 2016 place an obligation on controllers and processors to implement 'appropriate technical and organisational measures' to ensure a level of security appropriate to the risk. It suggests the following appropriate measures: the pseudonymisation and encryption of personal data; the ability to ensure the ongoing confidentiality, integrity, availability and resilience of processing systems and services; the ability to restore the availability and access to personal data in a timely manner in the event of a physical or technical incident; a process for regularly testing, assessing and evaluating the effective of technical and organisational measures for ensuring the security of the processing. The Parish is also obliged to ensure that all those processing personal data on their behalf are aware of security measures and comply with them. 
If you have any queries on data security, please in the first instance contact the Rector by letter to The Rectory, Rookery Close, Killarney, V93 DPC3 or using our info@... email address. You can also contact the Data Protection Commission at: 0761 104 800 or by post at: 21 Fitzwilliam Square South, Dublin 2, D02 RD28 or via email at:


We, the Select Vestry of St Mary’s (Church of Ireland) Killarney [herein called “the parish”], are committed to protecting the privacy rights of individuals in relation to the processing of their personal data and confer rights on individuals as well as responsibilities on those processing personal data. This policy outlines our approach to compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and all other relevant data protection legislation. This policy is effective as and from 1 January 2020.
The scope of this policy. This policy applies to all personal data created or received in the course of our work in all formats, across all time periods. This may be in paper, physical and electronic formats or communicated verbally in conversation or over the telephone. It applies to all locations where personal data is held by the parish and its data processors.
The parish is a data controller. The parish commits to acting in a transparent manner and is responsible for determining the purposes and means of all data processing undertaken by and on behalf of: The Clergy; General Vestry; Select Vestry [aka the Trustees]; Employees, Contractors and volunteers. The Rector is responsible for answering questions in relation to this data protection policy and the parish’s approach to privacy. For any questions about this policy, including any request to exercise legal rights, please contact: the Rector by phone on (064) 663 1832 or using our info@... email address.
Definitions of Personal Data. Personal data is any information that can identify an individual either directly or indirectly in conjunction with other information. This includes a name, location data or a postal address, images or anything relating to the physical, religious or social identity of a person. Special categories of data can only be processed under specific circumstances and appropriate safeguards must be in place to protect this data. The parish may collect, use, store and transfer different kinds of personal information and use it for a variety of different purposes. This personal information may include: Address, email address, telephone numbers; Name, date of birth, PPSN, marital status, nationality; Occupation; Information concerning marital and family status; Information on physical or mental health, religious beliefs, criminal convictions / offences; Images from CCTV cameras in and surrounding premises the church building.
Data Protection Principles. The parish is responsible for complying with the following principles. Personal data should be: Processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner; Collected for specified, explicit and legitimate purposes only; Adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary; Accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date; Kept in a form which enables identification of data subjects for no longer than is necessary; Kept safe and processed in a manner that ensures appropriate security of the personal data.
Lawfulness of processing. The parish collects and uses personal information for a number of purposes and relies on a number of different legal bases to do this.
To enter into and perform a contract. The parish uses personal information to carry out our obligations arising from any contracts entered into between two parties or to take the necessary steps prior to entering into a contract including: To administer employment, financial or legal contracts; To pay for the services professionally provided to us; To provide other services as necessary.
To comply with our legal obligations. The parish is required to process personal information to comply with certain legal obligations which they are subject to including: Providing information to An Garda Siochana, the Revenue Commissioners and other Government bodies or agencies when required to do so by law; To verify personal information and to meet legal and compliance obligations; To carry out a statutory audit/inspection; Where a person has exercised one of their data rights, we will retain a copy of all correspondence to demonstrate our compliance with data protection legislation. Where a person has exercised one of their data rights and asked us not to contact them by email at a particular email address, for example, we will need to retain a copy of that email address in order to comply with the no-contact request.
For legitimate business interests. Where the parish processes personal information for our legitimate interests, the parish will ensure that there is a fair balance between their legitimate interest and the data subject’s fundamental rights and freedoms. The parish may use personal information to manage the day to day running of the parish, including accounting, internal reporting needs, to ensure appropriate IT security and to prevent fraud, in our legitimate interest. Our legitimate interest is the effective management of the administrative functions of the parish. The parish may use personal information to communicate with a data subject, to update them on developments within the parish, diocese or wider Church of Ireland and invite data subjects to events that we feel may be of interest to them. Our legitimate interest is to connect with and update data subjects on services provided by the parish. The parish may process personal information, which includes the processing of special categories of personal data, where processing is carried out in the course of their legitimate activities on condition that the processing relates solely to data subjects who are members, former members or whom have previously been involved with the parish or are an employee and/or contracted staff member. The parish may use personal information to contact people who are in regular contact with them in connection with their purposes. The legitimate interests of the parish do not override a data subject’s interest. A data subject has the right, free of charge, to object to the parish using their personal information for legitimate interests. Objections should be made to the Rector by letter to The Rectory, Rookery Close, Killarney, V93 DPC3 or using our info@... email address.
For the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims. The parish occasionally processes personal information, including sensitive personal information, such as information concerning health, religious or philosophical beliefs, criminal convictions / offences where it is necessary for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims.
Consent. The parish will, in certain circumstances, rely on explicit consent to process personal data, including sensitive personal data. Where we do, the data subject has the right to withdraw their consent at any time by letter to The Rectory, Rookery Close, Killarney, V93 DPC3 or using our info@... email address.
Vital Interest. The parish may, in certain circumstances, use personal data where the processing is necessary to protect someone’s life.
Public Interest. The parish may, in certain circumstances, use personal data for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest. CCTV is in operation at St Mary’s (Church of Ireland) Killarney for security and safety purposes. CCTV notices are on display outside the premise to inform individuals that CCTV is in operation and give advance notice of any recording.
Rights of data subjects. Data subjects have a number of rights under data protection law in relation to how the parish use their personal information. They have the right, free of charge, to: Request a copy of the personal information the parish hold on the data subject in a structured, commonly used and machine readable format; Rectify any inaccurate personal information the parish hold about the data subject; Withdraw their consent where the parish has relied upon consent to process their information; Request that the parish erase the personal information held about the data subject to certain exceptions; If technically feasible, request to have their personal information transmitted to another data controller in a machine readable format; Restrict processing of their personal information in certain circumstances Object to the parish’s use of their personal information for our legitimate interests; Not be subject to a decision which is based solely on automated processing where the decision significantly affects the data subject; Lodge a complaint with the appropriate data protection authority if the data subject has any concerns about how we process their personal data. These rights are, in some circumstances, limited by data protection legislation. If a data subject wishes to exercise any of these rights please contact the Rector by letter to The Rectory, Rookery Close, Killarney, V93 DPC3 or using our info@... email address. The parish will take measures to verify the identity of the data subject, which will be by reference to copies of acceptable identification documentation. The parish will endeavour to respond to the request within a month. If the parish is unable to deal with the request within a month we may extend this period by a further period of two months and we will provide an explanation for this.
Information Technology and Data Protection. The parish is responsible for implementing appropriate technical and organisational measures to demonstrate that processing is performed in accordance with GDPR.
The parish will retain personal information for as long as needed to fulfil the purposes for which it was collected. The parish will retain and use personal information for no longer than is necessary to comply with accounting, reporting or legal obligations. How long certain information is stored depends on the nature of the information we hold and the purpose for which it is processed.
Managing data breaches. A personal data security breach is any event that has the potential to affect the confidentiality, integrity or availability of personal data held by us in any format. The parish is required to report serious data breaches to the Data Protection Commissioner within 72 hours of becoming aware of the data breach. Where it is determined that the breach is unlikely to result in a risk to the rights and freedoms of natural persons, then the supervisory authority will not be notified. Unless it is determined that there is a high risk to the rights and freedoms of natural persons then the data subject(s) may not be notified. The parish will keep an internal record of the details, the means for deciding there was no risk, who decided there was no risk and the risk rating that was recorded. The parish will respond promptly and appropriately to data security breaches, including all relevant reporting obligations.
When and how personal information is shared. The parish may share personal data between the Church of Ireland’s joint data controllers and their respective data processors. The four data controllers are: Representative Church Body & General Synod, Diocesan Council, the Bishops and the parish. The parish may share personal information with third party providers that perform services and functions at their direction and on our behalf, such as accountants, auditors, IT providers, printers, solicitors and providers of security and administrative services. The parish does not sell any personal information and will only share it with third parties who are facilitating the delivery or fulfilment of a service or who are working on behalf of the parish. The parish will contractually require that all suppliers protect such information from unauthorised access, use and disclosure. The parish may transfer personal data outside the European Economic Area (EEA), especially with the part of the Church of Ireland in Northern Ireland (post-BREXIT). However, these countries do not always afford an equivalent level of privacy protection and in such circumstances the parish will take specific steps, in accordance with data protection law, to protect personal information.
Principles to be followed by data processors. A strong data protection culture is essential to advance the mission and ministry of the Church of Ireland. The parish commit to: Understanding their responsibilities in relation to the acquisition, processing and safeguarding of personal data; Adhering to all Data Protection policies and procedures; Adhering to the retention guidelines and committing to keeping personal data to a minimum; Continually assessing the personal data collected and understand any relevant risk associated with this; Informing the Data Protection Representative of any data subject requests; Reporting any concerns or risks to the Data Protection Representative particularly if it is suspected that anyone is being asked to act in a way which is contrary to the data protection regulations Reporting any data breaches to the Data Protection Representative; Treating personal information confidentially and ensure it is locked away at the end of the day; Attending data protection training and refresher events as requested; Assisting the parish to demonstrate compliance during a data protection audit or inspection.


CHILD SAFEGUARDING STATEMENT OF St Mary’s (Church of Ireland) Killarney.
St Mary’s (Church of Ireland) Killarney is committed to safeguarding children by working under the guidance of our national safeguarding policy Safeguarding Trust and its associated procedures. St Mary’s (Church of Ireland) Killarney (incorporating the Muckross Venture Centre) provides religious, educational and recreational activities and services to children under 18 years of age through a range of local services. We acknowledge our duty of care to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and we are committed to ensuring safeguarding practice reflects statutory responsibilities, government guidance and complies with best practice. Our clergy, volunteers and staff are committed to creating a safe environment for children to grow and develop. The Safeguarding Trust policy recognises that the welfare and interests of children are paramount in all circumstances. It aims to ensure that regardless of age, ability or disability, race, religion or belief, gender, sexual orientation or socio-economic background, all children have a positive and enjoyable experience in a safe and child-centred environment and are protected from abuse whilst participating in church related activities. St Mary’s (Church of Ireland) Killarney has conducted a specific written risk assessment and child safeguarding statement in line with: Children First Act 2015; Protection for Persons Reporting Child Abuse Act 1998; National Vetting Bureau Act 2012 and 2016 Children First Guidance 2017; Tusla Guidance on Developing a Child Safeguarding Statement. In addition to this service/activity risk assessment the following procedures are in place throughout St Mary’s (Church of Ireland) Killarney as part of our safeguarding policies and procedures: Procedures for managing allegations of abuse or misconduct by clergy, volunteers or staff against a child availing of our services; Procedures for the safe recruitment of volunteers or staff to work with children in our services; Procedures to access child safeguarding training, including the identification and reporting of harm; Procedures for reporting child protection and welfare concerns to Statutory Authorities. St Mary’s (Church of Ireland) Killarney recognises that implementation is an on-going process—we are committed to the implementation of this Child Safeguarding Statement and the procedures that support our intention to keep children safe from harm and the risk of harm.
The Relevant Person for this Child Safeguarding Statement is the Rector: the Venerable Simon J Lumby.
This Child Safeguarding Statement will be reviewed at each Annual Meeting of the Select Vestry.


 Our Church has adopted the name “the Church of the Sloes” because this is commonly taken to be the translation of the name of our town: Killarney.
 There are two theories as to the correct spelling of the Irish form of the town's name: Cill Airne. One has the Irish accent, called a ’síneadh fada‘ [an acute accent], over the á; one does not.
 The following expert opinion was obtained from Dr Pádraig Ó Cearbhaill (Chief Placenames Officer of the Placenames Branch of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht). He states that

"the official spelling, at least, does not have a length accent on the ‘a’, hence Cill Airne ... [and] has been the standard spelling of the placename for more than fifty years now. The question of whether the ‘a’ should be marked with a ’síneadh fada‘ or not is dealt with in the standardised and simplified spelling of Modern Irish, the rules for which were first published in 1945. Prior to that, a vowel preceding a series of consonants such as -rn- and -rd in words, was sometimes marked with a length accent ...(ie áirne in Fr. Dinneen’s Irish-English Dictionary), but written nowadays without an accent"

 The Irish for the berry of the Blackthorn bush—the sloe—is spelt in modern dictionaries without a fada and in older the fada is included; presumably the change was brought about by the above mentioned decision. So following our decision to accept the 'fada' we automatically go with the translation "sloe". We took the plural form "sloes" because it flows better off the tongue and is not so easily confused with other English words that sound the same as "sloe" and would give an entirely unfortunate sense to our level of activity!
 There are two other theories. One is that the word derives from a person's name; supposedly a local saint otherwise unknown to the ancient records. There is no evidence of this and therefore it offers no benefits to us, there being no history of such a person upon which we could build a narrative. (We suggest (elsewhere) that an entirely different saint is connected by the records to Killarney.)
 The other alternative is that the word áirne is translated as ‘ridge’, derived from ára, a word meaning ‘kidney’ or ‘ridge’. This is very hard to accept because there is no distinctive ridge associated with the town; it is on the shore of Loch Lein, to the east of the MacGillycuddy Reeks (Ireland's highest mountains).
 In a book called "County Kerry Past and Present" written by Jeremiah King and published posthumously in 1931 there is an interesting, if somewhat obscure suggestion as to the origin of the name of the town Cill Airne.

"Killarney is not derived from airneadh, the fruit of the sloe [sic] or blackthorn; Cill Airne is the Gaelic name, the cemetery of the Ernans or Iberians, the tuath sen Eran, the Ivernis of Ptolemy, whence Erin, Eire, Ara. Loch Lein inundated an ancient district of Killarney. Airne is the plural of Ara, and Aran is the genetive singular. Tipperary is tiobraid Aran of Ara Cliach. The Dal Araidhe were Ernans, who colonised Ulster and Alban. Aire, or Airu, Erin or Ere, are the same. and Airend is the genetive case of Airin. Erenn is the genetive case of Erin or Ara. In a.m. 3579, Conmael, son of Emer ard ri, fought the battle of loch Lein against the Ernai and Martinei Firbolgs and, against Mogh Ruith, the son of Mofebis of the Firbolgs. Cill Airne burial ground is marked on the 1841 ordnance map in Moyeightragh baile, and derives its name from the tuath sen Eran or Ernans. who ruled Munster in pre-Christian times, and whose descendants still people the province."

 It is hard to follow this logic, especially as in his Irish-English Dictionary which appears at the end of his book he has written "airne, sloe.".


 The fascinating story of a famous stained glass window in Killarney portraying Jesus as the "Bearded Baby"; a great public attraction until 2005!!
 The stained glass windows were installed in our church in 1888-9 during a major refurbishment after there had been a big fire that damaged much of the north wing or transept of the church. The windows are mainly from the studio of William Wailes, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England. They still carry vibrant colours and depict many biblical scenes from the Old Testament and from the Gospels. The beauty of this collection of stained glass windows is that they are all made in the same style and manner of depiction.
 The window of interest to us, in this story, is one of three windows in the Sanctuary, behind the Altar, on the left or north side of the apse. In this window there are two Lancets (measuring 2290mm x 510mm) one Rose and some other tracery-lights. The left of the two lancets contains a depiction of the Nativity of Christ, in the manger, with Mary and Joseph, in the main part of the lancet, and underneath, in the predella, is a small depiction of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple. The representation of the baby Jesus lying in the crib, draped in swaddling bands, gazing up at his mother, would not be unusual except for one thing ... he's got a beard! Back in the middle of the 20th century this was a major feature and known of around the world. Groups would travel from different countries specially to see this wonder. A brochure of that time states "The Manger scene has a bearded baby Christ! This detail is the artist's way of conveying the idea of the Eternal and Ancient God being in the Baby."
 There are a great many things that could be said, developing on this theme, about the relationship between the baby Jesus (the Christ, the Son of God, the Incarnation) with God the Father. Does this tap into the Victorian childhood depiction of God the Father as a heavily white-bearded man on a cloud? Certainly this bearded baby taps into a major theology of the Incarnation, the Divine nature of Jesus, and ultimately a pictorial contemplation on the theology of the Trinity: the God who is One and yet Who manifests as Three. So there is a perfectly legitimate thread to be tapped in explaining the fact that the Baby Jesus has a beard. (The concept of a bearded baby might be confused with the mystical Homunculus which is a miniature fully-formed human; but this depiction is definitely a baby.) There are other examples of stained glass windows with bearded babies, but these can readily be seen as the effect of shadows on the window. But the one in Killarney is different; it is definitely a beard!
 Well, that is until 2005! A scholar was doing the rounds of Church of Ireland churches making an archival record of all stained glass windows (you can see the results of the survey on He was in our Church on 27/28 June. He set up his camera and the door was closed. At 11am on the 27th the new Rector got a call from him, "Your church has been vandalised. Someone has painted a beard on the Christ-child in the manger-scene." When the Rector rushed to the Church to see for himself, he told the scholar that this bearded baby was internationally known and a piece of theological depictive art! "Not so," said the scholar, and proceeded, with a cotton bud and white spirit, to expunge the beard and the moustache from the surface of the glass; revealing a clean-shaven Christ-chid. The beard had been applied with a marker pen!! (Details taken from the report in the Diocesan Newslink magazine of 2005)
 The end of an era? A notable distinction trashed? A profound theology undermined? Well, no actually. At the time there was great debate as to how this could have happened and when. Some said it might have been workmen playing a prank; no-one would ever know.
 Fast forward now to 2015 and the first service in the New Year, when another new Rector came into Church on the Sunday morning to prepare for divine worship. As he stood in the Sanctuary he crunched some glass uder his foot. On looking up he discovered that the Nativity window was stoved in by a large terracotta plant pot full of soil. The pieces of glass were gathered up and stored safely until a local specialist stained glass window restorer came to begin the restoration. Fortunately, high quality photos had previously been obtained of the windows, including this one, so it would be possible to reconstruct it and make a replica guided by the colour pigment and design of the fragments. During this process the Restorer (Ildanach of Mallow) called the Rector and invited him over to the studio to see the proposed reconstruction. There were all the saved fragments, laid out on the table with the diffused light shining strongly through the glass pieces. It was then that a fascinating discovery was made; on the surface of the original stained glass there were many tiny pit-marks caused by acid in the air eating at the surface of the glass. These were hardly noticable where the darker pigments of the glass were. But, on the pale almost white flesh-tones on the baby Jesus' lower face, these pit-marks stood at really well. So, from a small distance it looked as though the chin was more grey than the rest of the skin. Then the penny dropped!  Could it have been the case that a workmen had spotted this stippling effect of the erosion on the surface of the glass where the baby Jesus' chin was, and, perhaps thinking that this had been an intention of the creator of the stained glass image, decided to assist by further enhancing the beardedness of the baby? Or was it really just a prank!
 So why not come to visit our gorgeous church, so full of beautiful colour and sacred art, and see for yourself the fabulous restoration of this damaged window (it is almost impossible to tell that the restoration is not the original). Come yourself and see the window that once contained an image of the Baby Jesus with a beard and moustache. It doesn't really matter if it was a hoax or if it was a well-intentioned piece of instinctive theology. What matters is that it cauces us to stop and think and it points us towards one of the key elements of Christian Theology, that Jesus, the Christ, is the Incarnation of God, the Emmanuel (God With Us), and is both human and divine (equally, unmingled, and mutual) and doesn't just represent but is the presence of eternity, undying and immortal.


Our Church celebrates its 150th anniversary on 26th August 2020. This is the story of the building of it as reported in the Kerry Press between 1834-70.
 As a preamble it is interesting to note something of the conditions under which religion was conducted in the 1820s. The long and vexed history of the subjugation of the Irish people by the English Crown and the iniquitous use of religion as a political weapon has been documented in great detail from many perspectives in recent years. We just add a bit of local colour to that. (Click on any link in bold type to see a transcript of relevant press items.)
 An article in the Kerry Evening Post 1829 April 22 p3 relates an incident outside the church (the old one that stood on this site). The Revd Arthur Hyde became ‘Rector’ of Killarney in 1809 and died there in 1834 (he is the Great Grandfather of Douglas Hyde; the 1st President of Eire). Three generations of the Bland family were ‘Rector’ for over 90 years; from 1693-1785. The Revd Bland referred to in this piece was the Curate at this time.
 The year is 1834; Revd Hyde has died and the Revd Edward Herbert is newly ‘Rector’. The Herberts were a well-to-do family in Killarney and some held high office. (A separate blog will detail the lineage of the two branches of Herberts of Killarney and Muckross.) The first mention of the dilapidation of the Church of Ireland building in Killarney appears (as far as can be determined) in the local Protestant Paper in 1834. The Kerry Evening Post was one of the main newspapers in Kerry between 1813 and 1916 and served the so-called "Protestant" community. An article appears in the Kerry Evening Post 1834 November 8 p3 evincing hopes of a rebuild of what was a building in a parlous state.
 The next mention of the state of the then church building comes in a post in the 1840's version of TripAdvisor. A letter to the editor is printed in the Kerry Evening Post 1840 August 19 p3 col3. The correspondent bemoans the state of the church in Killarney and sets in motion a train of events that will not culminate until August of 1870. The opinion of visitors had already become very important to Killarney's growing visitor attraction businesses. The pinnacle of visitor acclamation comes in August of 1861 with the successful visit of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert to Killarney House and Muckross House. So the modern day resident of Killarney can well understand the angst the bad press of this letter would encourage. The near immediate opportunity to respond to the observations and encouragements of “Pro Aris et Focis” comes in the Kerry Evening Post 1840 August 26 p3 col5 on foot of a report of the impending visit of the Diocesan Bishop, the Honourable Edmund Knox.
 A subsequent Visitation (an official inspection of the state of the Church of England and Ireland in the region) in the Diocese of Aghadoe & Ardfert comes in 1841 when the then Archbishop of Dublin gives the media ample opportunity for displaying the decrepitude of the Parish Church in Killarney. The press are not slow to grasp the opportunity to make press home the point made to the Prelate, as witness this article in the Kerry Evening Post 1841 September 1 p3; we are not told how the Archbishop took the matter.
 This next report contains a reference to an earlier report of some months previous, regarding the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, as reported in the Kerry Evening Post 1842 May 21 p3 col3 [† the article referenced in this clipping has not yet been traced.]
 In 1846 the Duke of Rutland penned some notes of his visit to Kerry and to Killarney; he wrote about the then church in Killarney, as recorded here. He makes some comments which can either be viewed as disparaging or perceptive!
 Recalling the sense of urgency and the vocal demand expressed in earlier reports we find, after a whole decade has passed and three Triennial Visitations by the Primate, and then not until 1858, action, once again, on the matter of the dilapidation of Killarney Church as reported in the Kerry Evening Post 1858 March 20 / 24 / 27 when a meeting of the Church Committee resolves finally to take steps to address the problem. Well there we are, progress!! And what jubilation is felt in the newspaper edition of the Kerry Evening Post 1858 March 24 p3 col3. Indeed! And, so as not to understate the matter, Kerry Evening Post 1858 March 27 p3 col2! The media note the antecedence of the the Revd Richard Herbert (see other blog already mentioned above). So as to put things in their proper perspective it is noted £50 in 1858 would, in 2020, be about €7000! Always one to make a point, at any opportunity, the media offers a pithy remark in their report in the Kerry Evening Post 1858 July 28 p3 col3. Things are hotting up!
 There then ensues a remarkable set of letters which shed light on the nature of rumours and what we now love to call “fake news” in the style of 1858. (The Tralee Chronicle is not archived online.) It is documented in the Kerry Evening Post 1858 October 28 p2 col5 with part two here and part three here. This map extract shows the site of the ‘old’ church. And so it transpires that the ancient location is the default site for the new build; which implies an absence of a worship space during the demolition and building of the new church.
 In the 8th June 1859 edition of the Kerry Evening Post there appears an article extolling the plethora of newly built and renovated Church of Ireland churches in Kerry. In a footnote the editorial states: "We had nearly forgotten the proposed new church in Killarney, which we believe only awaits a small addition to the subscribed fund to be at once commenced."
 Picking up the pace, there is a general surge towards fundraising for the new church. The media are not slow to comment on generosity, or the lack thereof. Even neighbouring clergy are not exempt from public pressure to donate towards the erection of each other's new churches; there is a great increase in new build around this time. The edition of the Kerry Evening Post 1859 June 25 p3, col2 picks up the theme. The ups and downs of local plans ... and the reporting thereof. But one is not always prepared for the spanner in the works to come from one's most devoted supporter, namely one's own Bishop, as reported in the Kerry Evening Post 1859 October 1st p2 col3. Oops! A pastoral insensitivity by the Bishop in consort with the Lord of the Manor!
 Now, here’s a fascinating idea — sermons for the purposes of raising money! It’s the 19th Century equivalent “Church’s Got Talent”. The report is found in the Kerry Evening Post 1860 July 11, p2 col4. Ouch! A public rebuke of the clergy!
 The church's management committee meet once again and their deliberations are recorded in the Kerry Evening Post 1860 August 4, p2 col4 (the poor quality of the digital copy precludes an exact report).
 The next appearance of this saga, in the following year, comes in the the form of a comment regarding an official intervention by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners—-an attempt to prevent the replacement of the current church——which is picked up by a correspondent with local connections in a "Letter to the Editor" printed in the Kerry Evening Post 1861 June 1, p2 col4. Later, in the same year, another committee meeting is reported in the Kerry Evening Post 1861 November 2, p2 and November 5 1861, p3. It is clear there are significant differences of opinion between those with local knowledge and interest, and those who some would classify as "officialdom". Notice that the Queen visited Killarney in between these two reports.
 The year is now 1864. The Kerry Evening Post picks up the matter of the Church in Killarney with a major analysis of the search for an alternate site ... and is scathing. Lord Castlerosse of Killarney House is a Roman Catholic and a great benefactor of the building of the Roman Catholic Cathedral being erected about this time on the western fringe of the town. I might remind readers that it is now 30 years since the first mention recorded in the media of the desperate need for a new church in Killarney! The lengthy report is given in the Kerry Evening Post 1864 June 18 p2 col3 and continued here. The rejoinder from Lord Castlerosse, and its rebuttal!, appear in the Kerry Evening Post 1864 June 25 p2 col2 and continued in the Kerry Evening Post 1864 June 29th, p2 col3 with part two here. There's a lesson here in being partial with the truth in the public domain of which many have fallen foul in each generation.
 Yet another three years go by before another hiccough catches the attention of the press. An apparent difference of opinion between the Rector and his Church Committee is reported in the Kerry Evening Post - July 6 1867 and promptly rebutted, in the usual style, with a "Letter to the Editor", printed in the Kerry Evening Post 1867 July 10, p2 col4. Hooray!! But problems are nothing if not persistent as reports the Kerry Evening Post 1867 October 5, p2 col3. One cannot help but be reminded of the Duke of Rutland's reflective commentary on the nature of building in Ireland.
 It bears a momentary diversion to contemplate the background to these days of local intrigue over the building or rebuilding of the Church (of Ireland) in Killarney: The following appear in the back page of the Kerry Evening Post and shed an interesting reflection on the greater machinations of the Church and State debate; reported in the Kerry Evening Post 1867, Oct 19 p4 col1 and here.
 Significant progress is recorded in 1868. Remember the intrigue over the possibility of having a new site for the church, so that the old church could continue to be used during the building of the new? We now see tangible evidence that things have settled——much to the chagrin of the Rector——on knocking down the old to build the new on its foundations. Given the state of things and the motivation of the interested parties to erect a magnificent edifice worthy of the visitor extra land is needed to extended the footprint of the new building. More importantly, there needs to be due respect paid to the deceased who's remains are interred in the church and its grounds. The report is given in the Kerry Evening Post 1868, April 15 p2. Preparations are now being carried on actively for the re-building and enlargement of the Killarney church. The new piece of ground lately procured as an addition to the graveyard has been consecrated to the sacred purpose for which it is intended. On Tuesday evening the Lord Bishop of Limerick, Ardfert, and Aghadoe, and his chaplain, the Rev. James Walsh, arrived in Killarney, and on Wednesday the ceremony of consecration was performed. At the close of the service used on such occasions, the Rev. James Walsh read the Act of Consecration, and the ground was formally given in charge to the vicar. There were present the vicar, the Rev. E. Herbert, and his curate, the Rev. F .C. Wills, the Archdeacon of Aghadoe, Rev. B. Herbert, Cahernane, and many others. The work will be commenced as speedily as possible. Further progress is reported in the Kerry Evening Post 1868, May 27 p2 col4. It is pertinent to make an aside regarding the reference to “Mr Gladstone’s anti-church propositions”. Mr Gladstone, in seeking for high office in the Parliament in London was campaigning on the back of the Disestablishment of the Church in England in Ireland. His prospects was that it would aid moves towards Irish independence if the Anglican Church was no longer the official state church in Ireland. He suggested that the Church of Ireland would have all its land and resources assigned to the State in return for an endowment of money, form which the Church would fund itself. You can see the echoes of the article reprinted in the Kerry Evening Post from the Times Newspaper given earlier. The Church in Ireland was disestablished by an Act of Parliament in 1869 and was given the Royal Assent in 1870 (150 years ago).
 Once again we see recorded the resolutions of the Church Building Committee as reported in the Kerry Evening Post 1868, June 13 p2. And, finally, an auspicious milestone is reached with the reporting of the proposed ceremonial laying of the new Foundation Stone as recorded in the Kerry Evening Post 1868, July 29 p2. Not to be shy about the matter the paper adds to the growing sense of anticipation by building up the event as reported in the Kerry Evening Post 1868, August 1 p2, culminating in a fulsome record of the event itself as reported in the Kerry Evening Post 1868, August 5 p2 and continued here and concluded here. It is now 34 years since the first mention of hopes for a new building were first evinced. The laying of the foundation stone of the new church in Killarney has given the Tralee-Chronicle occasion for one of those pointless articles — declamation and misrepresentation - in which "our local contemporary delights to defame Protestantism and Irish Protestants in particular". A Dublin correspondent of the Chronicle enlightens us on a point in the Rev. Mr. Wills letter to that journal on the subject of the broken cross in the Muckross graveyard - which, by the way, we have the authority of a party who visited the place last week, may most easily have been and most likely was caused by accident. This writer tells us that the particular type of Protestantism to which that gentleman referred "is evidently the malignant spirit of Calvinism". Another letter, published in the paper, begs a corresponding rebuttal, as reported in the Kerry Evening Post 1868, August 8 p2. In the same paper a report is given of the additional 'proceedings' of the great event of "Tuesday last", as reported in the Kerry Evening Post 1868, August 8 p2 and here. The construction of the new church here is progressing rapidly, not withstanding Mr. Thomas Gallwey's brochure, which it is remarked, does him little credit. The building, when complete, promises to be substantial, and at the same time ornamental.
 The construction of the new church is progressing; the next we hear is of a small accident, reported in the Kerry Evening Post 1869, October 23 p2.
 And finally, in 1870, we arrive at the completion of this very longstanding project. The plans for the consecration of the new church, the old one having been demolished 2 years earlier, are finalised as reported in a series of news clips in the Kerry Evening Post 1870, August 6 p2 and Kerry Evening Post 1870, August 10 p2 and Kerry Evening Post 1868, August 13 p2.
 The day soon dawns, and the long-awaited church is nearing its inauguration, and the newspaper waxes lyrical about the importance of the event as against the backdrop of the recent passing of legislation to disestablish the Church of England in Ireland, a time of great angst for Anglicans and, it seems from reading this, a time of jubilation for many ‘passionate’ Roman Catholics… as reported in the Kerry Evening Post 1870, August 20 p2. Reassuringly the paper confirms (DV Deo volente) the planned consecration in a short clip in the Kerry Evening Post 1870, August 20 p2. The relief and joy expressed by the newspaper at finally having a new consecrated church for the ‘protestant’ people in Killarney is evident in the gratitude expressed to those who laboured for so long to ‘pull it off’ in a report in the Kerry Evening Post 1870, August 27 p2 and here and concluding with the Bishop's sermon here and here.
 It is now a year since the consecration of the new church; when damage is done to the windows. The sense of shock and horror is profound at the apparent indifference of the authorities. The report comes in the Kerry Evening Post 1871, August 23 p2.
 And finally we see a sign of prosperity and a settled life for the new church building and it congregation in a report in the Kerry Evening Post 1872, August 7 p2. We'll meet the successful applicants when we revisit the church's story in the late 1880s, reported in a forthcoming blog, as another important but this time unwelcome event occurs.

  ... to be continued.


 New research indicates that St Abbán may be behind the name of our town; come walk with us on his pathway.
We've created a walk from our church through the National Park and on up to Aghadoe. You can download the map and the route and some musings—thoughts and ideas to contemplate on the walk.
 Here is the text of the reflections; these will be expanded and updated as more ideas occur and new vistas open up to us in our spiritual contemplation. God bless and enrich your spirit you as you undertake to do this spiritual walk.

The waypoints on the map indicate places, structures and views of interest. The outward walk, to Aghadoe is the Cosán, the return walk is a cultural journey through Killanrey's recent history.
Waypoint 1: Although this church is dedicated to St Mary, the mother of Christ, it is possible that the earliest stone built church was erected here in thanksgiving for and in memory of St Abbán. This points to an early tradition of marking places for their spiritual associations. To have a local saint would have been a great boon to the locals.
Waypoint 2: This Holy Well is now covered over and topped with a very fetching ‘hat’. Before this area was built-up this Well would have served as a source for healing prayers. Notice how close the church and the Well are. It is called St Mary’s Well now, but in the first modern map of this area it is called Lady’s Well (perhaps these are the same as Our Lady is a name for St Mary).
Waypoint 8: The Cathedral is also dedicated to St Mary. This gets very confusing for visitors who call up the wrong location when they pin their photos and visitor comments on our respective social media sites!! The Cathedral was built from about 1840 on a site donated by the local Landowner. It is designed by Pugin, that great architect of English and Irish churches. Whilst the history of Ireland can be written from the perspective of the deep-rooted animosities between Catholics and Protestants and the gross injustices both wreaked upon the other it is fair to say that the two get on much better now and share in providing spiritual support and access to worship for locals and visitors alike. Ponder the need for religious tolerance and love.
Waypoint 11: Cloch Mochudda is a tricky place to find—so well done for standing in front of it—but don’t kneel in the depressions worn by St Cudda’s kneecaps; it can hurt! The story of Cudda (the diminutive form of Cuthbert) is a delightful one in the true tradition of Irish story-telling. I’ll be brief! He left the monastery on Innisfallen to collect groceries from another monastery on the lake shore. On his way he heard a bird singing exquisitely so he knelt to listen and to give thanks to God. Eventually the bird stopped and Cudda made his way back to Innisfallen because he realised it was late; boy was he late(!). The doorkeeper said they had no-one belonging to his monastery called Cudda. It was then remembered that 200yrs earlier a brother had ventured out for supplies—and never returned. Cudda had been in rapture listening to the bird and praying for 2 centuries. No wonder the marks of his kneecaps are so deep.
 I've included here on the website two versions of the legend of Br Cuddy, both documented by Thomas Croker. This one is the more formal version and it presents the brother in a somewhat unflattering light as the architypical rotund friar! But my favourite version is this one , it is much more beautiful and spiritual. See what you think.
 Ponder not the timeframe, but the sense of devotion that the early Irish saints had for nature as an expression of God’s love and glory. How much do we need to regain such a sense of respect for Creation in the C21st. Time flies when we engage with the divine majesty through the portal of nature’s bounty and beauty. Have a rest!
Waypoint 12: When we pioneered this pathway we came across this Well hidden in a thicket. So we appropriated it for St Abbán, bless him. But I want you to turn round and look over the lake. You can see Innisfallen sitting out from the shore, majestic in its spiritual legacy. It looks quite unassuming. This would have been an important place for early Christians as water and lake; islands were their alternative to desert places of the C4th and C5th in Egypt, Arabia and Syria. (There’s mounting evidence that Christianity came to Ireland from Egypt in the century before St Patrick; there are numerous remains showing links with early Orthodox Christianity and the earliest known church ruin is only 50kms from here on the Ring of Kerry.) But, there had to be tangible reasons written into the fabric of this place in the spiritual memory of the people for a very important monastery to have been founded on Innisfallen. The St Finan on the Wikipedia page is the wrong one; he wasn’t born yet! But there is such a Saint located in the west of Kerry by Waterville, of the right vintage. What was it about this place that was so spiritually vital, that they established a place of great learning. Look around at the vista and imagine it back then with great Oak forest and swaths of Blackthorn. Can you sense it, perhaps you have the spiritual instinct they had? The King Brian Boru was educated here. The Annals of Innisfallen—a great litany of nationally significant events—was complied here. Look at it, it’s only a tiny place, but it yielded such greatness. One can go over there on a boat from the Ross Castle jetty (but not right now) as you’ve got to head up the hill past this second Holy Well. Just offer up a prayer for healing and health as you walk by and as you get to 13 stop for a bite of a sandwich or chocolate bar as you soak up the view of the Lake and the islands (trust me, they’re there, if all you’ve got is fog and rain; all the more reason to come back again).
  As you walk along across the main road — do be extra careful of the busy traffic — I thought I’d give you some snippets to ponder. Did you know there are some 400 Irish Saints. Not one of the is a martyr. I think Ireland is the only country in which Christianity settled without anyone getting killed for their faith, in the early days. You might ask yourself: why? What did Christianity take so well here? You’ll probably want to get back to your accommodation before logging in to our website that supports this Cosán for a more detailed review of the options. Suffice it to say; The pre-Christian religious culture understood their deities as being in threes, so they took to the Trinity naturally. They focussed heavily in their religion and founding myths on the previous occupants — a spiritual race — as having gone through the water portals into the other world and could be invited to offer healing through prayers and donations at Holy wells, so the idea of baptism as a life saving event and a resurrection was easily absorbed. They had a deep sense of the presence of the divine all around them in the landscape and its agency, so they took to the holistic engagement with nature of the early Christians of the eastern tradition. I can go on, but you get my point. If you were to press me, I would dare to claim that the modern Irish have that same holistic instinct just below the surface and it is apparent in many other early cultures that still exist today.
Waypoint 14: Walking up this steep incline can be a bit taxing, so take it steady, no rush. Perhaps you can ponder your own engagement, or otherwise, with spirituality and the Divine presence. Many people have been put off by organised religion, and I don’t blame them. The Church has committed some horrendous atrocities over the centuries; and here is no different. So the purpose of this Cosán is to give you an opportunity either, if you’re a disillusioned Christian, or if you’re sorely wounded by the Church’s sins, or if you’ve never ventured to think about God, the Divine, the place of spirituality in your life, … is to give you a chance to find that same sense of awe and wonder, of reverence, of deep peace that nature offers our spirit. When we feel love and joy and peace and tenderness, these are motivations of the spirit writ across our hearts. These are Divine communications that have no words or thoughts. They are our intrinsic ability to commune with the One who made existence possible. The early Irish Saints (you’ll maybe have noticed I never once used the word Celtic (oops!)) had this ability, so do we. Let your visit to Killarney activate in you that inner sense, that ability to exchange wordless words of deep feeling with the One who is. Killarney is what is called a “thin place”; a place where heaven and earth are but a gossamer thickness apart. The Spirit of Place here is so acute, so refined, so tangible that, even though people regard themselves as having not a single spiritual cell in their body, they still are moved, refreshed, enlivened, enriched, rested, inspired, and empowered by having been in this place. Let the spirit of God touch your heart and soul, like it did those who responded to St Abbán’s words of wonder.
Waypoint 15: The ancient church at Aghadoe was a great Cathedral foundation in the early days; small, isn’t it? The local area in the ancient Diocese is named after it. It was subsequently amalgamated with the neighbouring Diocese of Ardfert (famous for St Brendan the Navigator). Our Diocese still bears their names, even though it’s now a long string of such names! This place is a well-used place of eternal rest. When you pop along the road to the viewing point at 16 you’ll understand why. I sincerely trust that the forces of nature have granted you a peerless day of sunshine and light breezes so you can soak up the awesome site of the Macgillycuddy Reeks on the far side of Loch Lein (which means: the Lake of Learning). Is it any wonder so many people flock to this most visited place in Ireland (that’s our claim!). Is it any wonder that they come back; just like you will. Is it any wonder that Killarney has such a vibrant atmosphere and community, when it nestles in the palm of God’s hand like this?

Please do be careful along this road as you head back to the right along the top road and back down into Killarney for the second leg of your walk; this is the cultural bit. If you’re wondering about turning left instead, there are some narrow bends and the cars wouldn’t normally expect walkers by the verge; risky!

When you get back into our Church at the end of your tour why not take some time to reflect on all your have thought and seen. Maybe give thanks to the God who has accompanied you in your feelings and thoughts, unnoticed. Maybe offer up a prayer of gratitude for the beauty of the place. Maybe start to realise that love and peace are hallmarks of the Divine Creator and that you share them too. God bless.


 We have a main service, usually Holy Communion, at 11am each Sunday (On the first Sunday of every month this is a family service). During the summer season (May-Sep), at 9:30am each Sunday, we have a short service of Holy Communion for visitors. We call this our "Bus Service" because it is especially arranged for those who have booked on the 10:30am coach trip round the famous Ring of Kerry. Other special services, e.g. at Easter and Christmas, are announced on the Church noticeboard and in the media.
 We welcome every visitor to Killarney, to join us at our worship. If it is your tradition and practice to receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion in your home church, and you would like to do so with us, you will be warmly received and enjoy a full part in our service. Our only concern is that you feel that God welcomes you to Killarney.
 We have a special place set aside in the South Transept for quiet and private prayer, where you may light a candle for any special concern you have.  It's flame will carry your prayer for you as you continue on your journey. There is also a book in which you can write your prayers, these will be placed on the Altar during Sunday worship.
 The Altar is normally covered with a fabulous embroidered cloth on which is represented the Peacock, an ancient Christian emblem of resurrection.


 During the tourist season Mar-Oct we offer a series of free evening concerts. These comprise either visiting choirs/orchestras from around the world or local artists. They offer a range of sacred and classical and cultural programmes. Our Church is famous for its wonderful acoustic and musicians are keen to enjoy the beauty of the building. Concerts start at 8pm; concert posters are on our Facebook page (click on Home to select) and our Google Business page (icon below).
 Most especially our Church hosts the highly regarded Sproai Chiarraí concerts each year. These offer local young musicians the chance to give their first public performances and both excite the concert-goer with their amazing musical talents and gain valuable experience in their art.
 We cannot keep the building properly maintained and looking as beautiful as it is without the generous help of our visitors. The concerts are our main source of income because of the generous donations that concert-goers make at the end of the event. We hope you'll agree with us that the building is well worth maintaining for future visitors to enjoy, just as you will when you visit us.
 For some concerts we charge an entrance fee payable at the door 1hr prior. For insurance and safety reasons the church is closed to sight-seers during concerts.
 To book your touring choir/orchestra on our programme please email our concerts@... address.


 Perhaps you want to have your wedding in Killarney and one of you has links to the Church of Ireland or its affiliates; contact us to discuss your requirements. Precedence is given to local people and to people having a tangible connection with Killarney. Anyone wishing to marry in our Church must have fulfilled the relevant statutory requirements (see here). We require couples to undertake a one day Marriage Preparation Course here in Killarney in the 3 months prior to the wedding. Fees can range from €800-€1500 depending on additional inclusions eg organist.
 Whilst we recognise that we have a lovely church in a beautiful setting it is not always possible to assent to every request. Weddings in an outdoor setting must honour the dignity of a religious ceremony; we reserve the right to transfer it back to the Church should it rain (which it often does in Co Kerry!). Our priority is always to honour the sacred nature of the ceremony. Our policy can be downloaded here.
 Blessings of civil marriage are available in most cases. We also welcome those who wish to mark a special anniversary with a Renewal of Vows ceremony. In either case you are invited to contact us even at short notice (eg you're on your tour already!).
 If you want yourself and/or your child baptised into the Anglican tradition, enquiries are welcomed.


 There is evidence as far back as the 1200s of a Church here. The name of the Town itself—Killarney (in Irish: Cill Airne)—means "Church of the Sloes". The Irish word for wood (coill) could easily have been adopted in an altered form to describe the wooden huts the early hermits would have built for themselves. Thus the word "cill" becomes associated with a spiritual place of prayer: ie a church. This suggests that there was an ancient church built in this area and the presence of the Blackthorn tree was significant to the local's and their pre-Christian religion. Blackthorns sometimes grow near wells; and there is a Holy Well just across the road from this Church. It was the habit of the early Christians to claim the spiritual heritage of the local people and morph it into a Christian format. It is the beauty of St Patrick that he understood the inherent spirituality of the Druidic culture into which he was enslaved; so when he turned he could readily use the forms and modes of the former religion and point to their equivalent, their explanation in the Christian religion of union with God.
 [The alternative spelling of the Town's name is thought by some to derive from an obscure local saint whose name comes from the pagan goddess aine in which case folklore gave the saint the attributes of the goddess (as happened with St Brigit).]
 The area is redolent with the scent of early Christian history, particularly: Inisfallen (the island in Loch Leane—Killarney's largest and the lower of the three lakes—named after St Faithlinn and on which a monastery grew and which not only produced the Annals of Inisfallen but also educated the great Irish King Brian Boru); Aghadoe (which is one of the earliest of the local dioceses of the Christian Church); and Muckross Abbey (where the Franscicans established themselves in 1448).
 The area is one of great beauty and of inspiration to both non-Christian and Christian sensitivities.  Indeed all human beings are inspired by the beauty of creation and the creativity of humanity, irrespective of one's spiritual allegiances. This is that same capacity, which we all share, of connecting with God in creation through the beauty of what we see; we experience it in the heart. We are all, at heart, Celtic.

 The take-over of Ireland by the British led to the ascendency of the Church of England in Ireland. The torrid and violent era of foreign rule brought many painful legacies that still percolate society today. The emancipation of Roman Catholics in Ireland signalled a further hardening of positions that can still persist in the minds of some; there is still some mistrust and misguided opinions between Roman Catholics and Protestants. These tragic times run contrary to the core values of love in the Christian tradition. [2016 is the centenary of the Easter Uprising that foreshadowed the final independence of the Irish people. It is to be regretted that the rebellion was ever needed; a lesson to those who wield power against the common good.]
 The establishment of a church on or near the sacred heart of a community is a standard technique in the early era. This then becomes the location of subsequent churches serving the community. Thus the early representative of the Christian faith, set in stone, had an Anglican flavour. Even today most of the ancient churches are curated by the Anglican Church's successor; the Church of Ireland. This legacy of stewardship—of Killarney's Christian heritage—falls to us on behalf of all of Killarney. This heritage belongs to all Christians of whatever flavour, and to all Irish of whatever faith.

 The establishment of the Town as a tourism destination by Lord Kenmare in the 1740s marks the beginning of the modern era. This is the modern distinctive of the Town and the area. That Queen Victoria chose to come to visit Killarney and the great estates signifies both a great boon to the Town and its economy but also, arguably, the downfall of the great House on the other side of Kenmare Place from the Church. It was the inability to sustain the estate and its grandeur that precipitated the gift of the estate to the nation. Thus it becomes Ireland's first and greatest National Park. 
 It is not only the natural heritage that makes Killarney a special place to visit. It is also its important Christian heritage that adds value to the experience of every visitor. The Annals of Inisfallen were written (mostly) in the Monastery on the island in the lake here. This current church was built in 1870; on the site of previous churches. It was adorned by the Herberts of Muckross House and houses a fabulous pipe-organ and has a renowned acoustic. It is decorated in a most attractive and unusual stencilled design and has sacred texts written in the high arches. The image above is of the memorial urn erected to commemorate the life and ministry of the Revd Arthur Hyde, 22 years Rector of Killarney. His grandson—Douglas—was elected the first President of Ireland in 1938-45.

 So it is to this backstory that we look for significance and meaning, interpreting the history and story of these parts so as to understand the present and map the future. The Town is renowned for its tourism potential and well visited by vast numbers of people from around the world. This Church is the spiritual successor to this backdrop. This Church of Ireland building is dedicated to St Mary the Virgin, Mother of our Lord, Jesus Christ. It is located at the heart of the community, situated between the hotel sector and the shopping area. We see visitors everyday from many nations and religions who come to marvel at the church's decoration and adornment.
 Our Church can be found on Kenmare Place, at the bottom of Main Street, opposite the Town Hall and adjacent to the Plaza Hotel and the Jaunting Cars "terminus". The congregation of this church is drawn from those who feel at home with the Anglican form of Christianity. The regulations that require old buildings are maintained to preserve ancient art and craft mean the building is enormously expensive to keep in good repair. As stewards of this responsibility we rely on the help of the community locally, nationally and internationally to keep this building in a fit state for the future.

 Our duty as a Church is to show the love of God to all and to maintain the legacy of memorial granted us by the past. In order to do this we have capitalised on the interest shown in our building by tourists and locals alike. Part of our mission is to offer an insight into the presence of God in all of creation, and in this particular locale, by making connections and links for people. That is why, as a service to the Town and people of Killarney, we are placing the spiritual significance of the Town's name centre-stage.
 So on behalf of all the people and commerce of Killarney—past, present and future—we have branded our building "The Church of the Sloes". Our intention is to represent the whole Town in presenting the spiritual backdrop of our presence in this land-scape thus giving added value to the visitor's experience, highlighting the God-given spiritual essence of brick and branch, of window and water, of flesh and foliage.

 Despite there being records of churches before the 17th Century we have no data on the names of earlier Rectors. This is the list from then onwards. You will see memorials and references to some of them around our Church.
1611 Israel Taylor
1615 Thomas Webb
1620 Henry Norris
1622 Henry Barham
1664 Humphrey Whittington
1675 Robert Wilson
1684 John Turner
1693 James Bland (Archdeacon in 1705)
1728 Francis Bland
1752 James Bland
1785 Marcus Monck
1789 Edward Herbert (Archdeacon in 1789)
1809 Arthur Hyde
1834 Edward Herbert
1879 Gerald de Courcey Meade
1880 George Robert Wynne (Archdeacon in 1885)
1904 Joseph Douglas Madden
1924 Robert Philip Rowan (Archdeacon in 1941)
1944 George Maxwell (Archdeacon in 1944)
1952 Maurice John Talbot
1954 Cecil George Fox
1965 David Kaye Lee Earl
1979 Brian FB Lougheed
2004 Stanley Evans
2006 Margaret Hemphill
2007 Susan Watterson
2014 Simon John Lumby (Archdeacon in 2016)


 In January 2015 there was a large public outcry when the Town heard that an act of drunken vandalism had destroyed one of the stained glass windows in this beautiful church. The damaged window was of the Nativity of Christ; it is the first of 3 pairs of windows in the Sanctuary of the Church. The very high cost of restoring such windows is due to the fact that the old skills that made the window are not common today and much work is required to get the pigments and firings correct to match the original in tone and style as closely as possible.
 By the end of 2015 the severely damaged stained glass window of the Nativity was restored to a very high standard.  It is virtually impossible to tell it's not the original. Thank you to all whose donations made this possible. We continue with the work of restoring the remaining windows.
 The protective glazing which was installed some 30-40 years ago is not strong enough to protect against the extreme violence used on this occasion. A subsequent inspection of all the stained glass windows has revealed that many of the windows are warping. This is because the old protective glazing was sealed; just like double-glazing. The temperature between the glazing and the stained glass window soars and the lead—that holds the stained glass in position—softens. Many of our windows are sagging and in danger of collapsing. Therefore a funding appeal was launched to raise €50,000 to replace the protective glazing with stronger laminate glass and include ventilation, and to restore the warped stained glass panels.
 If you're planning to come to Killarney and want to visit our Church to admire these windows, or if you've been before and remember being wowed by them, please make a donation on the link below. We're very grateful for the generosity of our visitors as without that we couldn't keep this building in good repair for future visitors and generations to come.

"DONATE HERE : Windows of Heaven Appeal"

 When this Church was built in the 1870s the layout of the local area was similar to that which you will see today. The old Killarney House extended much further; what you now see was the old Stables of the much bigger house. In this context was set the iron railings around the edge of the churchyard, marking the boundary with the road now called Kenmare Place. These iron railings have survived for over a century. A few years ago there was a vehicle crashed into the railings, partly demolishing a section on the corner opposite the Plaza Hotel. This was repaired. It then became obvious that the rest of the railings were in a very parlous state, rusted and broken and looking very shabby. However, the Church did not have the means to fix them. Indeed the restoration of the stained glass windows became our main focus.
 So late in 2015 the Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce and the Killarney Looking Good Committee approached the Church with a proposal that a joint effort be made to restore the railings in time for St Patrick's Day 2016. This meant raising donations and materiel support in excess of €80,000 in the space of 4 months. Many local companies and individuals donated equipment, construction and ironworking skills to the project and others donated monies. The project was completed success-fully ahead of schedule and to much popular acclaim. The grateful thanks of the community and the visitor alike are freely given to all whose generosity and hard work made the project a resounding community success. Without this community support the restoration of these antique railings could not have been achieved.

 In the summer of 2016 two small projects were undertaken, designed to enhance the appearance and comfort of the church.
 All the pews were given high quality and comfortable cushions. The fabric was provided by Kerry Woollen Mills. The fundraising for these Pew Cushions was given the innovative and tongue-in-cheek title "Phew! Cushions".
 The lighting in the Church had been high energy floodlights; they regularly failed and were not efficient. So, from Church funds we have installed LED low energy flood-lighting. The ambience of the Church is now much warmer and light due to this upgrade. Further improvements will be introduced in the future in the way certain features of architecture and decoration are lit.
 The next upgrade will be to the sound system, to make it more adaptable for use in concerts and weddings and for general daily use and worship. More modern technology is now available that will assist in the development. This will also facilitate, with the new broadband link, the ability to stream services and install web cams. Currently the Church is secured with the use of CCTV cameras.


 The location of this Church, at the heart of the Town, relates the centuries-old spiritual heritage of Killarney to the modern community in a way that transcends the historical differences between different church traditions. Therefore, this Church represents the spiritual heritage of all the church traditions resident in this vibrant community and indeed the pre-Christian tradition of this land, without which Celtic Christianity could not have flourished.
The picture is of the Sam McGuire Cup which Kerry GAA team won in 2014 and which was welcomed into our Church on Easter Day 2015.

Ministry to Visitors
 Two particular innovations that relate closely to the fact that this Church is between the hotel sector and the shopping sector of Town are the "Prayer Corner" and the summer season service of Holy Communion for visitors, known as the "Bus Service".
The introduction of a high quality stand for candles in the side aisle was aimed to provide visitors with the space to sit quietly in prayer in a manner they might do at home, where the lighting of candles as tokens of prayer is widely used. We find that our Church is treated by Catholics and Protestants alike as if it were their own. So the lighting of prayer candles is a vital part of our making space and honouring the traditions of our many visitors. This tradition is not widely practiced in the Church of Ireland. It is in this way we welcome you, the visitor, to share a spiritual moment with us on your journey through the fabulous landscape and heritage of Kerry.
The establishment of a short service of Holy Communion at 9:30am on Sundays during the summer season is specifically for the visitor who is only in Killarney for the weekend and must maximise their experience with a trip on the Coach Tour of the famous "Ring of Kerry"; the coach leaves from outside the Church at 10:30am. So having had a good Irish breakfast the visitor can avail of the chance to share in sacred fellowship with God and others and still have time to climb aboard the Ring Tour Bus. This is why we call this short half hour service the "Bus Service". In this way we hope to engender a subliminal awareness of God's presence both in the landscape and in the heart of the visitor on the coach.

Ministry to the Community
 The major development initiative of our church, which has built upon the decade of experience of hosting free concerts for the visitor and resident alike (join us on your visit and experience the fabulous acoustic of our beautifully decorated church) is the "Spiritual Tourism" project. To start with we launched our tourism brand with the logo—featuring our porch door and a Blackthorn tree—and adopting the spiritual name of the Town—Church of the Sloes—that is the sloe berry which comes from the Blackthorn tree. In this way we can operate alongside the other tourism destination attractions matching their quality with the excellence of our own publicity. With this as our baseline we intend to build the "Spiritual Tourism" project as a way of helping the visitor to access that very same inner capacity to sense God in the landscape and in the moment, just as the early Celts did before and after the days of St Patrick. Ever wonder what that feeling is that you have in your heart when you're inspired or excited by something you see or hear or experience? Well that is a communication with the divine; a resonance with the spiritual in the ordinary. It is the stuff of every day in the tourist journey. We intend to make this explicit in the minds of visitors and residents and not just a feeling in their hearts.
You're touching God; you're being Celtic; this is what being Christian is about.


 The church offers occasional tours on Saturdays in the summer season (May-Sep). Come and see the vibrant stained glass windows of our Church. The windows are mostly from a single studio of William Wailes, in the Northeast of England, and dated to the 1880s. There is also a modern stained glass window in the South Transept created by Ildanach Studio of Boherbue, Co. Cork.
 One notable and rare stained glass window is a copy of Holman Hunt's "The Light of the World" painting. Another is thought to be the likeness of a young woman, in whose honour a window is dedicated; she's the daughter of Jane, the Countess of Bantry (formerly a Herbert of Muckross House). We also have a memorial urn to a former Rector of this Church who is the grandfather of the first President of Ireland. Some memorials date to earlier churches on this site. The image above is dedicated to Charlotte Wynne in 1881; she's the daughter of another former Rector of this Church.
 The stained glass windows, along with the pipe-organ and the decoration are a must-see attraction in our Town. You should allocate an hour to savour the wonders of this church’s decoration and ponder its windows. Whether you're here during the week or manage to time it so you can join our tours on Saturdays; you'll be pleased you gave time to it.


The Church of Ireland archives are held in Dublin and any enquiries should be made first following the advice given on their website here. Researchers must avail of the guidance given here as there will be costs incurred by your research. Altogether 6 volumes of Killarney's parish registers, comprising baptisms 1782-1880, marriages 1784- 1845 & burials 1783-1880, were destroyed in the fire in the Public Record Office of Ireland in Dublin in 1922. There are no indexes for those dates. Records relating to 1883-1915 are held in the Dublin Church Archive.

For records pertaining to County Kerry as a whole, please consult My Kerry Ancestors.

If you seek detailed searches of current registers, for the purposes of obtaining replacement certificates, you should contact us here to ascertain the current fee. A brief check will be made of the index to ensure there is a valid record; certificates will be issued on receipt of the appropriate fee.

For those who've had a service of Baptism for their child in our church and require a certificate for the purposes of registering your child for confirmation please contact us here.


 Our Church in Muckross has been converted into a Venture Centre for youth and/or adult groups of upto 42 people in bunk-bed dormitories. The church remains in use as a place of worship at special times of the year. The Centre is often booked by adult groups on training and educational trips or doing outdoor team building. Groups should supply their own projection equipment if required.
 For bookings click and download here.
 The four Ground Floor Dormitories comprise 1x3 bunks; 2x4 bunks and 1x9 bunks respectively. The two first floor dormitories comprise 4 bunks and 18 bunks respectively. There are five showers downstairs. There is a fully fitted kitchen and a large communal dining area that doubles as the group social and work area. There is ample parking at the side and rear of the building, plus grassed areas for group activities and games.
 The Centre is ideally placed on the Muckross Road for easy access to the main entrance to Killarney National Park (with the famous Muckross House and gardens which are well-worth visiting). Further south is access to Kenmare and the southern part of the Ring of Kerry. Travelling north through Killarney brings you to the northern part of the Ring of Kerry and Killorglin, with routes onto the Dingle Peninsula and to Tralee. There is a wealth of local things for a youth group or outward bound group to engage in. Alternatively you can use the grounds for your activities/training whilst enjoy the spectacular setting of Ireland's premier National Park.


Kenmare Place, Killarney
Co.Kerry, Ireland, V93 CD00

Phone: +353 (0)64 663 1832
(click Contact tab to send email enquiry)

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