The Cathedral Church of St Crumnathy of Achonry connects theChurchofIrelandwith one of the greatest names of its early history.
Achad-Conair was given to St Finian of Clonard, in the year 530AD by the Chieftain of the territory of the Luigny. The O’Hara’s of Annaghmore are the modern representatives of this old Irish clan. St Finian, the first of that great line of saintly scholars who madeIrelandfamous for its learning, founded a monastery near there. Over it he placed his pupil Nathy, a man of great saintliness, who was commonly called Crumthir. The two names joined together are preserved in the form Crumnathy, and to him the Cathedral is dedicated.
Little is known of the history of the Cathedral – the smallest of the Cathedrals of the Churchof Ireland. It was built in the year 1823 with the help of the Board of First Fruits. To the east of the building are some ruins – said to be of the 15th Century.
The present church is a plain rectangular building, with a well proportioned tower and spire at the West end. The present Sanctuary is a later addition. The Lectern and Pulpit are modern, and were presented in memory of those Deans who served so loyally and well over many years. Since 1928, the Deanery of Achonry has been incorporated into the Bishopric. The Reading Desk was presented by the Reed Family, and the furnishings of the Nave and Sanctuary by Mrs M A Brett in memory of her late husband – J W Brett.
The very simplicity and austerity of the building remind us that the essence of any Cathedral is not size or grandeur, but the fact that it contains the Cathedral (Chair or Seat) of the Bishop of the Diocese. On the South side is the Bishop’s Throne – a fine example of modern oak – a gift to the Cathedral in 1916 by the Clergy of the Diocese of Achonry. The inscription is in Irish – a reminder that we stand on ground which is sanctified by Christian worship for more than 14 centuries – ‘Upon this site the holy saints of old did walk. Lord give us grace that we like them, may walk with Thee.’
Archdeacon O’Rorke, DD, PP, in his book, ‘History, Antiquities and present state of the Parishes of Ballisodare and Kilvarnet in theCountyofSligo’ writes that “the eastern gable still stands, as also a little of the Chancel side walls. The Chancel was 23 feet in the clear. The east window had fine tracery and very fine stained glass. The Chancel was roofed with stone. The church contained a central tower and, as in most Irish churches, the Cloister adjoined the northern side wall. There are persons who saw service in this cathedral. The present building now in us as the cathedral was built with stones from the building whose remains are still to be seen hard by.”
It is understood that Nathy was buried within the precincts of the monastery, and over his remains, after some time was raised the Cathedral of Achonry, which was dedicated to the Saint and called, after him, the Church of Cumther Nathy. Though Nathy has always enjoyed a high reputation for sanctity, there is little known of his life, and hardly anything of his earlier years. No formal accounts have come down to us. He lived in the 6th century and evidence has it that he attended the famous school at Conard. St Finian presented the saint with a religious establishment. Nathy founded the Church and Monastery at Achonry for particular reasons because it was pleasantly secluded and moreover to diffuse religion among the inhabitants of that province.
Though Nathy is commonly supposed to have been Bishop – it is doubtful whether the holy man ever passed the Order of Priest but because of past history, his was the name the Cathedral church was dedicated to.
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