Roman Catholic Diocese of Cloyne

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Diocese of Cloyne

Dioecesis Cloynensis

Deoise Chluana
Cobh Cathedral, Chancel Archl.jpg
Country Republic of Ireland
TerritoryNorthern and eastern parts of County Cork
Ecclesiastical provinceProvince of Cashel
MetropolitanArchdiocese of Cashel and Emly
Area1,328 sq mi (3,440 km2)
- Catholics

DenominationRoman Catholic
RiteLatin Rite
EstablishedBishopric in 580; Diocese in 1152
CathedralSt Colman's Cathedral, Cobh
Patron saintSt Colman of Cloyne
Current leadership
BishopWilliam Crean
Bishop of Cloyne
Metropolitan ArchbishopKieran O'Reilly,
Archbishop of Cashel and Emly
Vicar GeneralMsgr. Eamon Goold
Bishops emeritusJohn Magee,
Bishop Emeritus of Cloyne
Roman Catholic Diocese of Cloyne map.png

The Diocese of Cloyne (Irish: Deoise Chluana)[1] is a Roman Catholic diocese in Ireland. It is one of six suffragan dioceses in the ecclesiastical province of Cashel (also known as Munster).[2] Following the resignation of bishop John Magee, the diocese was administered by its metropolitan, Dermot Clifford, until the installation of William Crean on 27 January 2013.[3][4] The cathedral church of the diocese is St Colman’s Cathedral.

Geographic remit[edit]

Cloyne diocese is located in the northern and eastern parts of County Cork. The major towns in the diocese are Cobh, Fermoy, Mallow, Midleton and Youghal. The population is over 120,000 people.


The diocese has its beginnings in the monastic settlement of Saint Colman of Cloyne in Cloyne, east Cork. A round tower and pre-reformation cathedral still stand at this site. The bishopric was erected in A.D. 580.[5] Colman, son of Lenin, lived from 522 to 604 A.D. He had been a poet and bard at the court of Caomh, King of Munster at Cashel. It was St. Brendan of Clonfert who induced Colman to become Christian. He embraced his new faith eagerly and studied at the monastery of St. Jarleth in Tuam. He later preached in east Cork and established his own monastic settlement at Cloyne about 560 A.D. His Feast Day is celebrated on November 24. Cloyne was later to become the centre of an extensive diocese in Munster. For eight centuries it was the residence of the Bishops of Cloyne and the setting for the Cathedral. As the metropolitan archdiocese of Cashel was co-extensive with the over-kingdom of Munster, so many of the dioceses were co-extensive with petty kingdoms that owed their loyalty to Cashel. At the Synod of Kells the territories of the MacCarthy dynasty in north west Cork, together with the kingdoms of Fermoy and Imokilly, came to make up the new diocese of Cloyne.[6] Neighbouring Lismore diocese was severely pruned at Kells. It lost all jurisdiction in present-day County Cork (excepting Kilworth parish) to Cloyne.

Lordship of Ireland[edit]

The troubled history of Ireland from Norman to Penal Times was reflected in the affairs of the Church. The dioceses of Cloyne and Cork were united from 1429 to 1747. From 1747 to 1850, the Diocese of Cloyne and Ross were united. Since 1769 the Bishops of Cloyne, with the exception of Dr. Murphy, resided at Cobh (formerly Queenstown) on the north side of Cork Harbour. The Dioceses of Cloyne and Ross were separated in 1850.

19th century[edit]

Following the relaxation of the worst elements of the Penal laws,

"...the diocese, despoiled of all its ancient churches, schools, and religious houses, had to be fully equipped anew. About 100 plain churches were erected between 1800 and 1850."

[7] Following the separation of Ross, Bishop William Keane planned a cathedral for Cobh to replace the inadequate parish Church of the time.


Bishop William Crean was appointed as bishop by Pope Benedict XVI on 24 November 2012 and installed on 27 January 2013.[3]


The Cathedral Parish of the Diocese of Cloyne is Cobh. This consists of the entire Great Island in Cork Harbour, including Rushbrooke & Ballymore. The second mensal parish is Fermoy.

The other parishes of the diocese in alphabetical order are as follows:

Notable clergy[edit]

The distinguished Catholic novelist Patrick Augustine Sheehan better known as Canon Sheehan of Doneraile produced and extraordinary literary oeuvre of essays, short stories, poems and novels between 1881 and 1913.

Archbishop Daniel Mannix of Melbourne was born in Charleville in 1864 and ordained for the diocese of Cloyne in 1890. Nominated Professor of Moral Theology in Maynooth in 1895, he was promoted to President of St. Patrick's College, Maynooth in 1903. In 1912 he was nominated Coadjutor of Archbishop Carr of Melbourne and succeeded him in 1917.

Archbishop Thomas Croke was born in 1824 at Castlecor and ordained for the diocese of Cloyne at Paris in 1824. Having been Professor in the Irish College in Paris for almost twelve years, he returned to Ireland and was appointed President of St. Colman's College, Fermoy in 1858. In 1865, he became Parish Priest of Doneraile. Nominated Bishop of Auckland, New Zealand, in 1870, he was translated to the Archdiocese of Cashel in Ireland in 1875. He died in 1902.

Bishop Robert Browne born in Charleville in 1844; he was ordained for the diocese of Cloyne in 1869. Following a brief period as Professor in St. Colman's College, Fermoy, he was appointed Dean and Professor of Greek at St. Patrick's College, Maynooth, in 1870. In 1885, he succeeded as President of the College. During his tenure he completed the building of the College Chapel. Nominated Bishop of Cloyne in 1894, his principal task was to complete the building of Cobh Cathedral which he consecrated in 1919. He died in 1935.

The Very Reverend Dr. Bartholomew MacCarthy, Celtic scholar and editor of the Stowe Missal, born at Conna, Ballynoe, Co. Cork, 12, Dec., 1843; died at Inniscarra, Co. Cork, 6 March., 1904. He was educated at Mount Melleray Seminary, Co. Waterford, and at St. Colman's College, Fermoy, Co. Cork, afterwards studying at Rome, where he was ordained in 1869. On his return to Ireland he was appointed professor of Classics at St. Colman's, where he remained about three years. He then went as curate to Mitchelstown and afterwards to Macroom and Youghal. In 1895 he was appointed parish priest of Inniscarra, near Cork, where he died.

The Very Reverend Canon Richard Smiddy, archaeologist and antiquarianist, was born in 1811 at Ballymakea, Killeagh. He was the son of Hanora (née Kennedy) and Pierse Smiddy. His siblings were John, Michael, Mary (Ahern), Laurence and Pierse Smiddy. He became parish priest of Aghada in 1854. He published extensively on theological subjects and on archaeology. His earliest book, The Holy Bible and the manner in which it is used by Catholics, was published in 1850. He was responsible for the revision of the Irish language catechism for use in the diocese of Cloyne which was published as An tagasc Chriostaidhe, de réir ceist is freagara. His best known work, Essays on Druids, Ancient Churches, and the Round Towers of Ireland, was published in 1871, reprinted in abbreviated form in 1976 and reprinted in 2010. Canon Smiddy kept a diary and wrote about life in East Cork from 1840 to 1875. His diary is kept in the Diocesan Archives in Cobh, however many copies have been made. His family are buried in Killeagh Old Cemetery, Co. Cork. He died on 11 June 1878 and was interred in Aghada Church graveyard.

Bishop John O'Brien, Celtic scholar, antiquarian and lexicographer, born Ballyovoddy, Kildorrery, Co. Cork in 1701, Doctor of Laws of the University of Toulouse, ordained in 1727, chaplain to the Spanish Embassy in London 1737, appointed Bishop of Cloyne and Ross on 10 January 1748. Published the Focaloir Gaodhilge-Sax-Bhéarlain 1768. John O'Brien died in exile at Lyon in France on 13 March 1769 and was buried in the Church of St-Martin-d'Ainay.

The Very Reverend Dr. Thady O'Brien, Regius Professor of Theology of the University of Toulouse and Rector of the Irish College Toulouse, born 12 March 1671 at Robertstown, Gortroe, in the diocese of Cloyne; oradined at Toulouse on 2 June 1703; Rector of the Irish College Toulouse 1706-1715; Parish Priest of Castlelyons 1715-1747; died 10 October 1747 at Castlelyons where he was interred. Dr. O'Brien published several theological tracts including An Historical Account of the Waldensians and Albigensians; A Defence of the Perpetual Virginity of the Blessed Mother of God; The Real Presence proved in the Eucharist; Animadversions on a Sermon treating of the Character of Oppressive Obedience; An Abstract of the Reasons Exhibited by the Very Learned Father Edmond Campion, Martyr, of the Society of Jesus, for his Challenge to the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge; On the Jubilee Year of 1700.

Child sexual abuse and cover-up[edit]

The diocese was the subject of a report on child sexual abuse and cover-up. According to a Health Service Executive (HSE) audit the diocese had put children at risk of harm through an "inability" to respond appropriately to abuse allegations and "had taken a fairly minimalistic role in terms of sharing information with the Board". The Diocese of Cloyne said it accepted the findings.[8]

On 4 February Bishop Magee requested the Pope to relieve him of his duties, saying that he would use the time to "devote the necessary time and energy to cooperating fully with the government Commission of Inquiry into child protection practices and procedures in the diocese of Cloyne". In accordance with canon law, an apostolic administrator was named for an open-ended interim period. Bishop Magee resigned on 24 March 2010.[9]


The following is a basic list of Roman Catholic bishops since 1850.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1] The Irish form of Cloyne is Cluain, genitive Chluana; no article is used
  2. ^ "Diocese of Cloyne". David M. Cheney. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^
  5. ^ Creation of the diocese
  6. ^ [Jefferies H. A., Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, Vol. LXXXIX, No. 248; 1984; pages 12-32.
  7. ^ New Advent, Cloyne.
  8. ^ The Irish Times: “Andrews refers Cloyne to Dublin abuse commission”, January 7, 2009
  9. ^ The Telegraph newspaper: Irish bishop John Magee resigns over sex abuse scandal, 24 March 2010
  10. ^ Fryde, E. B.; Greenway, D. E.; Porter, S.; Roy, I. (1986). Handbook of British Chronology (Third ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 420–421. ISBN 0-521-56350-X.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°51′05″N 8°17′37″W / 51.8515°N 8.29356°W / 51.8515; -8.29356