(Back To 1999 Contents)
BACK TO CONTENTS
   
INCHIGEELA CHURCH

Inchigeela Church was built in 1842 by Rev. Jeremiah Holland, parish priest at the time and it was a building that was admired by everybody for it's beautiful cut stone and arches. At the consecration the Church was described as a perfect gem of architectural beauty which never fails to attract the admiring gaze of the passing tourist, adding as it does a most enchanting effect to the charms of the scenery.
Rev. Jeremiah Holland was a native of Barley Field, Kilbrittain, where he was born in 1787. He was ordained in Maynooth in 1813 and served a curacy of 3 years in St.Finbarr's before his appointment as parish priest of Uibh Laoire in 1816 on the transfer of Fr.Tom Lane that year to Ballincollig. Uibh Laoire at the time of Fr. Holland's appointment was said to have required for its pastor a man of the most indomitable energy and the most ardent zeal religion.
Rev. Jeremiah Holland's assignment to Uibh Laoire was to have been a short duration on the promise of Bishop Murphy "not to leave him long in purgatory". He was destined to spend the remainder of his life there and to tackle parish problems single handed until 1857 when Rev. Jeremiah Carey became his curate . Fortunately for himself Rev. Jeremiah Holland cared not for faction or feud nor  for Whiteboys or Tories who were numerous in the area. His courage was known to have been equal to all contingencies as he rode on horseback by torch light over the mountains to attend sick calls, led funerals over the high rough terrain and to bring the blessing of Mass and the Sacraments to his people in these distant outposts. Until he began his own Church building programme in earnest.
Fr. Holland is believed to have said Sunday Mass in what was known as "Inchigeela Cottage", a cottage in the village owned at the time by a tailor named Barry. Several contradictory accounts of this cottage prevail, but of the Churches accredited to Fr. Holland himself there can be no confusion. His Church of 1822 was built at the south of the village of Inchigeela. It was a small building to which an extension of about 12 feet was later made, giving it an area of 52'~27'. This lasted as a place of worship until 1842 . From that date until 1905 it was used as a schoolroom and after that as the  parochial hall.
The second Church, that of St. Finbarr and the Holy Angels in the townland of Carrigleigh was erected in 1842 at Fr. Holland's own expense, a sum that ranges from 450 to 1,200 according to tradition.
In educational terms Rev. Jeremiah Holland was not slout to avail of the advantages of the National School system from which he secured several well furnished schools which were an improvement on the five already existing schools. The many fine schools and Churches erected by him and other good works will be a lasting monument to his memory. He died on 17th of January 1864 and was succeeded by his nephew and namesake whose pastorate in Uibh Laoire lasted until1888.
From a newspaper report of the time
"On the morning of Wednesday the 20th of January, (1884) the remains of Rev. Jeremiah Holland, whose death was announced a few days ago, were deposited in the grounds attached to the parish Church of Inchigeela. Previous to the internment, the Solemn Office and High Mass were celebrated in the Church which was filled to excess by the parishioners, amongst whom  not a dry eye could be discovered. Not withstanding the inclemency of the weather, an immense assemblage of clergymen presented themselves to pay the last tribute of respect to the venerable departed in whom they recognized during life all the qualities that adorn the minister of God and exalt the character of man.
After the High Mass, a procession of the clergy chanting the funeral service proceeded from the Church, the coffin being born in the rear by four stalwart men, and then began a scene to which, for its touching effect upon our feelings, we have never witnessed a parallel. The immense concourse of people rushed around the coffin and vented their feelings in one loud prolonged wail, in which the solemn strains of the Benedictas were completely lost. Old men wept like children, while women and even some young girls and boys sobbed aloud as for the loss of a dearest friend, and well indeed might they weep for it is notorious that the good priest often saved many amongst the woes of enjectments and the paupers grave, by the ready offer of his purse on the gale day, when they should otherwise have appeared penniless before the ruthless landlord or the unrelenting agent.
Oh happy must be the soul of that priest whose remains after a long life go down into the grave as those of Fr. Holland did amongst the tears of his sorrowing parishioners and the earnest prayers of those to whose best interests he devoted all the energies of his manhood and all the solicitude of his declining years. Where but in Inchigeela could such a spectacle be witnessed.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~