Roman Catholic Diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora

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Diocese of Galway and Kilmacduagh
Dioecesis Galviensis, Duacensis et Finaborensis
Galway cathedral.jpg
Country  Republic of Ireland
Territory Parts of counties Mayo, Galway and Clare
Ecclesiastical province Province of Tuam
Metropolitan Archdiocese of Tuam
Area 1,008 sq mi (2,610 km2)
- Catholics

Denomination Roman Catholic
Rite Latin Rite
Established United 5 June 1883
Cathedral Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and St Nicholas, Galway
Patron saint Galway: Our Lady Assumed into Heaven Saint Nicholas
Kilmacduagh: St Colman
Kilfenora: St Fachanan
Current leadership
Pope Francis
Bishop Brendan Kelly
Bishop of Galway and Kilmacduagh
Metropolitan Archbishop Michael Neary,
Archbishop of Tuam
Emeritus Bishops Martin Drennan
Bishop Emeritus of Galway and Kilmacduagh
Roman Catholic Diocese of Galway KK map.png

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora (Irish: Deoise na Gaillimhe, Chill Mhic Duaich agus Chill Fhionnúrach) is a Roman Catholic diocese in the west of Ireland. It is in the ecclesiastical province of Tuam and is subject to the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Tuam. The deanery of Kilfenora, previously a diocese in its own right, lies in the ecclesiastical province of Cashel. The most recent bishop is the Most Reverend Martin Drennan who was ordained on 21 September 1997 and appointed on 23 May 2005. He officially retired on 29 July 2016. His successor, the Most Revd. Brendan Kelly, was appointed on 11 December 2017.[1]

Geographic remit[edit]

The geographic remit of the see includes the City of Galway, parts of the county of Galway and the northern coastal part of the county of Clare. Large population centres include Ennistymon, Oranmore and Oughterard. The cathedral church of the diocese is the Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and St Nicholas.

Ecclesiastical history[edit]

The diocese has its origins in the ancient monastery of Kilmacduagh and the Wardenship of Galway (1484–1831). Following the abolition of the Wardenship (see Edmund Ffrench) by the Holy See in 1831, the first Bishop of the new Diocese of Galway was appointed in the same year.

In 1866, Bishop John McEvilly of Galway was made Apostolic Administrator of the diocese of Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora. When he was appointed coadjutor to the Archdiocese of Tuam in 1878, he retained Galway until he succeeded as archbishop in 1881. McEvilly continued to oversee Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora until 1883 when Pope Leo XIII united the diocese with the neighbouring Diocese of Kilmacduagh. At the same time, the ordinary of the United Diocese of Galway and Kilmacduagh was appointed, in perpetuum, as the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Kilfenora.

The bishopric of Kilmacduagh had been a separate title until 1750 when Pope Benedict XIV decreed that it to be united with the bishopric of Kilfenora. Since Kilmacduagh was in the Ecclesiastical province of Tuam while Kilfenora was in the Province of Cashel, it was arranged that the ordinary of the united dioceses was to be alternately bishop of one diocese and apostolic administrator of the other. The first holder of this unusual arrangement was Peter Kilkelly, who had been Bishop of Kilmacduagh since 1744, became Apostolic Administrator of Kilfenora in September 1750.[2][3] Since that date, Kilfenora has been administered by that united diocese as an Apostolic Vicariate. Since the territory of an Apostolic Vicariate comes directly under the pope as "universal bishop", the pope exercises his authority in Kilfenora through a "vicar".

Deaneries and Parishes[edit]

The united diocese is divided into five deaneries for which a Vicar Forane (VF) is appointed by the Bishop. The VF exercises limited jurisdiction in the deanery on behalf of the Bishop. The deaneries are divided further into parishes or group parishes.[4]

List of Bishops[edit]

Bishops of Galway[edit]

From Until Incumbent Notes
1831 (Nicholas Foran) Appointed 16 April 1831, but did not take effect due to illness; later became Bishop of Waterford and Lismore in 1837
1831 1844 George Joseph Plunket Browne Appointed 6 August and consecrated 23 October 1831; translated to Elphin 26 March 1844
1844 1855 Laurence O'Donnell Appointed 26 September and consecrated 28 October 1844; died 29 June 1855
1857 1881 John McEvilly Appointed 24 December 1856 and consecrated 22 March 1857; also was appointed Apostolic Administrator of Kilmacduagh & Kilfenora (1866–1883) and Coadjutor archbishop of Tuam (1878–1881); relinquished Galway when he succeeded as Archbishop of Tuam on 7 November 1881
1881 1883 Sede vacante

Bishops of Galway and Kilmacduagh[edit]

and Apostolic Administrators of Kilfenora

From Until Incumbent Notes
1883 1886 Thomas Joseph Carr Appointed 12 June and consecrated 26 August 1883; translated to Melbourne 29 September 1886
1887 1908 Francis McCormack Translated from Achonry; appointed 27 April 1887; retired 21 October 1908; died 14 November 1909
1909 1923 Thomas O'Dea Translated from Clonfert; appointed 29 April 1909; died 9 April 1923
1923 1936 Thomas O'Doherty Translated from Clonfert; appointed 13 July 1923; died 15 December 1936
1937 1976 Michael Browne Appointed 6 August and consecrated 10 November 1937; retired 21 July 1976; died 24 February 1980
1976 1992 Eamon Casey Translated from Kerry; appointed 21 July 1976; resigned 6 May 1992; died 13 March 2017
1993 2005 James McLoughlin Appointed 10 February and consecrated 28 March 1993; retired 23 May 2005; died 25 November 2005
2005 2016 Martin Drennan Previously Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin; consecrated 21 September 1997; appointed Bishop of Galway and Kilmacduagh 23 May 2005; resigned 29 July 2016
2017 Present Brendan Kelly Translated from Achonry; appointed 11 December 2017; consecrated 11 February 2018


  1. ^
  2. ^ Fryde et al. 1986, Handbook of British Chronology, p. 436.
  3. ^ Moody, Martin & Byrne 1984, Maps, Genealogies, Lists, p. 390.
  4. ^ Deaneries Archived 2010-05-24 at the Wayback Machine.. Diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora. Retrieved 24 April 2010.
  • Fryde, E. B.; Greenway, D. E.; Porter, S.; Roy, I. (1986). Handbook of British Chronology (Third Edition, revised ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 429–430. ISBN 0-521-56350-X.
  • "Diocese of Galway and Kilmacduagh". Retrieved 2009-02-12.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 53°16′31″N 9°03′27″W / 53.2752°N 9.0575°W / 53.2752; -9.0575