The Roman Catholic Chapel at Croghan Village, Boyle, Co. Roscommon, was first established in 1802 (to replace an earlier Penal church in the townland of Kilcolagh, just south of Killappoge). The Roman Catholic Parish registers for this parish begin on 24th June 1811 (through to 26th Dec 1880) and can be viewed here.
April 1952 – Rev. Dr. Fulton J. Sheen, Auxiliary Bishop of New-York, and Titular Bishop of Cesariana, when preaching in St. Michael's Church, Croghan, Co. Roscommon. Dr. Sheen consecrated and dedicated the 150 years' old Church, which was reconstructed and renovated. [Sligo Champion January 03, 1953; Page: 5]
The RC Chapel at Croghan was mapped on the first Ordnance Survey of 1837; it was considerably smaller than the current structure, with a thatch roof. In that same year, improvements were made, sponsored by a Catholic absentee landlord:
The Rev. Peter O'Connor, P.P. of Killucan (Croghan) also acknowledges having received from Richard O'Farrell Caddell, Esq., the sum of £10 in aid of the improvements now making at the chapel of Croghan. [Freeman's Journal: April 14, 1837; page 1]
In April 1856, it was found quite inadequate to the wants of the congregation, 3 quarters of whom were tenants of Mr. Guy Lloyd of Croghan House. Thus, steps were taken for the purpose of enlarging the Catholic chapel of Croghan, and a committee was appointed with that view. One of the first proceedings necessary was to apply to Mr. Guy Lloyd, the lord of the soil, for a site for the proposed addition, and the committee sent a letter to Lloyd applying for a space of only four perches adjoining the present chapel for whatever rent he might choose to fix upon it. Mr. Lloyd, however, refused to comply with the request, and conveyed his refusal in the following singular letter:—
"Croghan, 20th March 1856
" GENTLEMEN—I have received your memorial, and have given it the best consideration In my power. I am very sorry that I cannot comply with your request; I am not indifferent to the importance of religious instruction; I have established Scriptural schools on my property. You have never been asked to aid them in any way, as you profess to think that error Is taught there—so I consider that you have ought not to have asked me to promote, by any voluntary act of mine, the teaching of what I object to; I desire the fullest liberty of conscience for all. I may add that if you would arrange to have meetings for kindly and calmly discussing the points of difference between our churches I would be ready to reconsider the matter. —Your faithful servant, Guy Lloyd."
Click on these links to read more about the fallout, and the reciprocal mud-slinging. The parish priest, Rev. Fr. Peter O'Connor was publicly vocal in his opposition to Mr. Lloyd's 'proselytising in the district for 20 years'. In August 1856, to add fuel to O'Connor's fire, Lloyd fired 20 Catholic laborers for refusing to show up to work on the Feast of the Ascension.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE NATION.
3 Sandycove Terrace, Kingstown, August 1, 1857: Dear Sir—'The Rev Peter C O'Connor, R C C of Croghan, has my sanction to solicit subscriptions towards the enlargement of the chapel of Croghan. The persecution to which the poor Catholics of that parish were lately subjected is fresh in the recollection of the public, and the refusal of four perches of ground, even for payment, much-required tor the enlargement of the chapel, will, it is hoped, awaken sympathy in the breasts of all religious and liberal-minded persons. George J P Browne, R C, Bishop of Elphin.
By 1858 O'Connor's campaign had produced the cruciform gable-fronted church, with a three-stage tower, as we know it today. One has to wonder about the 'strong statement' this impressive structure, which dominates the streetscape in Croghan, made to it opponents. In a letter to the Nation O'Connor acknowledges:
" I am proud to be able to announce the fact that l received more money for the enlargement of Croghan Chapel from Protestants than Catholics, and amongst them I can't help singling out the Protestant gentlemen of this county and especially the Protestant gentlemen of my native town [Sligo] and my native county and that the handsome tower of Croghan Chapel is all but exclusively built by Protestant money. It is plain then my feelings towards them are feelings of esteem and gratitude."
This impressive Roman Catholic church, renovated and rebuilt in 1952, was the scene of a record gathering, making national press when the Very Rev. Bishop Fulton Sheen USA (whose grandparents were from Croghan) solemnly blessed and dedicated "St. Michael's Church, Croghan." It is a substantial church with fine stone detailing and an architecturally appealing interior. Its stained glass windows feature the names of some of the most enduring families in the parish. Its fine plasterwork is of particular note, best exemplified on the capitals of columns and on the gallery.
Buried inside the church, are Fr. Peter O'Connor and Fr. Nicholas Green. A priests' graveyard is located on the north side of the church grounds.