Roman Catholic Diocese of Cloyne

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]

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 (including non-members)

DenominationRoman Catholic
Sui iuris churchLatin Church
RiteRoman Rite
EstablishedBishopric in 580; Diocese in 1152
CathedralSt Colman's Cathedral, Cobh
Patron saintSt Colman of Cloyne
Current leadership
BishopWilliam Crean
Vicar GeneralMsgr. Anthony O’Brien
Bishops emeritusJohn Magee
Roman Catholic Diocese of Cloyne map.png

Geographic remitEdit

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 diocese was erected in A.D. 580.[3] 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. Jarlath 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 24 November.

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. Fergal, Abbot-Bishop of Cloyne, was massacred in 888 by the Danes. There are seven recorded devastations of Cloyne from 822 to 1137. In 1152 at the Synod of Kells, Cloyne was made one of Cashel's twelve suffragan sees. 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.[4] Neighbouring Lismore diocese was severely pruned at Kells. It lost all jurisdiction in present-day County Cork (excepting Kilworth parish) to Cloyne.

Diocese of Cloyne and Cork (1429-1747)Edit

Robbery of church property by nobles impoverished the Sees of Cloyne and Cork, which were united in 1429, by papal authority, under Bishop Purcell. Blessed Thaddeus MacCarthy was bishop from 1490 to 1492. The bishops of penal times were ruthlessly persecuted, and some suffered cruel imprisonment or died in exile.[5]

Diocese of Cloyne and Ross (1748-1850)Edit

John O'Brien author of an Irish dictionary, poems, and tracts, was Bishop of Cloyne and Ross from 1748 to 1769. He died in exile in Lyons.[6] Since 1769 the Bishops of Cloyne, with the exception of Dr. Timothy Murphy, resided at Cobh (formerly Queenstown) on the north side of Cork Harbour.

Diocese of CloyneEdit

The Dioceses of Cloyne and Ross were separated in 1850. 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."[5] Following the separation of Ross, Bishop William Keane planned a cathedral for Cobh to replace the inadequate parish Church of the time.


The following is a basic list of Roman Catholic bishops since 1850.[7]


Bishop William Crean was appointed as bishop by Pope Benedict XVI on 24 November 2012 and installed on 27 January 2013.[8] A number of pilgrimages are organised from the diocese each year such as the pilgrimages to Lourdes, Fatima and Knock. The diocese also runs a number of youth services and adult faith development programmes. In 2012 The Cork Scripture Group was founded to promote scripture in the diocese[9] and offers with the neighbouring Diocese of Cork and Ross a Diocesan Certificate in Biblical Studies.[10] In recent years the diocese in conjunction with the Maryvale Institute in Birmingham, run its courses in catechism.[11][12]


The diocese consists of five deaneries, which are in turn divided into parishes.

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 clergyEdit

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 Rev Canon Richard Smiddy, archaeologist and antiquarian, born 1811 at Ballymakea, Killeagh. He was a. son of Honora (née Kennedy) and Pierce Smiddy. His siblings were John, Michael, Mary (later Ahern), Laurence, and Pierse (or Pierce) 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 in Toulouse, born 12 March 1671 at Robertstown, Gortroe, in the diocese of Cloyne; ordained 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-upEdit

The diocese was the subject of a report on child sexual abuse and cover-up. According to a Health Service Executive (HSE) audit, the then Vicar General Msgr Denis O’Callaghan as the person responsible and 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.[13]

On 4 February 2010, Bishop John Magee requested Pope Benedict 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" which up to this point had been handled by Monsignor Denis O’Callaghan. In accordance with canon law, an apostolic administrator was named for an open-ended interim period. Bishop Magee resigned on 24 March 2010 upon learning of the full gravity of the revelations of the report. Bishop Magee now resides in a North Cork town and is frequently invited to presided at various religious and Eucharistic celebrations overseas, particularly in Italy.[14]

See alsoEdit


  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. ^ Creation of the diocese
  4. ^ Jefferies H. A., Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, Vol. LXXXIX, No. 248; 1984; pages 12-32.
  5. ^ a b O'Riordan, John. "Diocese of Cloyne." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 4. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. 16 March 2020  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  6. ^ "Bishop John O’Brien", Ricorso
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ "Canon William Crean bishop of Cloyne – Diocese of Kerry".
  9. ^ West Cork scripture group graduates receive certs News, The Southern Star 16 April 2015.
  10. ^ New Graduates for the Cork Scripture Group by Courtney McGrail, The Irish Catholic, 23 April 2015.
  11. ^ Students receive Maryvale certificate in catechesis, 3 March 2016.
  12. ^ Ireland: Congratulations to Maryvale Institute's new catechists Independent Catholic News, 4 March 2016.
  13. ^ The Irish Times: "Andrews refers Cloyne to Dublin abuse commission", 7 January 2009
  14. ^ Squires, Nick (24 March 2010). "Irish bishop John Magee resigns over sex abuse scandal". The Telegraph. Retrieved 8 October 2020.

  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Diocese of Cloyne". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

External linksEdit

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