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New Site

By 1870 the chapel at the Fairhill was too small for the congregation. The parish priest. Father Patrick McAlister, who had succeeded Father McGlennon in 1862, began looking for a decent-sized site for a new church at what is now called Moyle Road. 

He obtained from Mrs Boyd, the widow of Hugh Boyd, the deceased landlord of Ballycastle, five acres of ground on a very fine site on what was then known as Clare Road.  Father McAlister sent a letter of thanks to the editor of “The Northern Whig”:

 "TO THE EDITOR OF THE 'NORTHERN WHIG'

"SIR - I desire through the medium of your journal to acknowledge, with feelings of sincere gratitude, on behalf of the Catholic people of this parish, the receipt of £50 from Mrs Amy Boyd towards the building Fund for the new Church of SS. Patrick and Brigid, Ballycastle.  This liberal contribution is the more highly appreciated as it is a spontaneous offering of the generous donor.  The very excellent site (a plot of five acres of ground), on which the new church is to be built, is also the gift of Mrs Boyd.  The liberal sentiments expressed in the appended letter, which accompanied the donation, do honour to Mrs Boyd and to her worthy and benevolent son-in-law, and will, no doubt, be read with much pleasure by the tenents of the Ballycastle estate. -I remain, sir, your obedient servant, P. McAlister.

Ballycastle, May 10, 1869"

The site obtained from Mrs Boyd was an elevated piece of table-land, immediately adjoining, but rising above, the streeets of the town of Ballycastle.  The church that was built on the site was designed by Rev Jeremiah McAuley, who was curate at the time in the parish of Cushendall, not far from Ballycastle.  Rev McAuley was a qualified architect.

The foundation stone was blessed and laid on June 7th 1870, by Father McAuley, by permission of Dr Dorrian, Bishop of the local Diocese of Down and Connor, who was unable to be present because of his attendance at the First Vatican Council in Rome.

The church was solemnly dedicated to St Patrick and St Brigid on Sunday, 9th August 1874, by Dr Dorrian.  The style was Gothic of the twelth century.

Rev Patrick McAlister was later, in 1886, appointed by the Holy See as Bishop of Down and Connor, in succession to Dr Dorrian, who had died on 3rd November 1885.  Bishop McAlister was consecrated Bishop in St Patrick's Church, Belfast, on Sunday, 28th March 1886. 

Bishop McAlister died in 1895 and on 28th March 1895 was buried in the graveyard attached to St Patrick'd and St Brigid's Church, the church he had built some 20 years before.  

A substantial renovation and extension was carried out under the guidance of V Rev Noel Watson (Parish Priest 1988-2003).  The extension included the creation of North and South transcepts as well as the development of a crypt.  The new development created the classical cruciform shape, catering for almost 1000 parishioners.

Following the renovations, the church was re-dedicated and blessed by Dr Patrick Walsh, Bishop of Down and Connor, on Sunday 31st October 1993.  Unfortunately Fr Watson was unable to be present as he had suffered a serious heart attack a short time before the re-opening.

Fr Watson died on the 14th January 2004, shortly after his retirement on 13th August 2003.  But the renovated church, in addition to the many other aspects of his ministry, will remain a great tribute to his energy and devotion to the people of Ramoan during his 15 years as Parish Priest.  

 

 

 

 

 


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