The construction of St. Patrick’s Church, Tournafulla began in 1855. However, as there was a shortage of funds, the roof was not completed until 1859. On receiving a loan from the earl of Devon, the church was roofed. Fr Richard Shanahan said the first mass in the new church on February 1st 1859.
Shortly after this mass, Fr Shanahan died and was buried in the site of the old church in Tournafulla. The village grew up around the church. Behind the high altar in the church there is a stained glass window that depicts (from left to right) St Anthony, the Crucifixion of Jesus and St Patrick.
The previous church in Tournafulla was built in 1814. Although no trace of the church remains, the site can be entered by gate from a point just beyond the once parochial house. This church had a thatched roof and was built with ash and stones. This church was part of the old village of Tournafulla. However, following the Great Flood of 1839 by the river Allaughan, the village moved to a higher location.
The walk to the old church site is over marshy ground along a path that once served as a mass path. There were two mass paths, one for each end of the parish. These paths can still be walked in parts. The old church was called “the Chapel of the Mountain of the Curse”.
On the site of the church, there is a plain headstone set on stone.
This headstone marks the original burial place of Fr Shanahan. In 1994, his body was exhumed and reburied in the new cemetery behind Tournafulla church. The people of the parish erected a headstone to his memory over the new gravesite. In 2016, St. Patrick’s Church was re-roofed.
The following year after planning was granted, the remaining renovation works commenced in June 2017. (See Photo gallery) The present day cemetery in Tournafulla opened in 1962. Prior to 1962, most of the people in Tournafulla were buried in one of three places: Templeglantine, Monagea or Abbeyfeale. There are three priests buried in the new cemetery, Fr Shanahan, Fr John McCarthy and Fr Willie O Gorman. A grotto has been erected directly behind the site of Fr Shanahan’s grave. There is also an old graveyard in the parish.
This graveyard is situated below the site of the old church in Tournafulla. However, there are no headstones to mark the graves here, only stone markers. The field in which this graveyard is located is called the “White Field” and is owned by Dinny Brown.
View more images of St. Patrick’s Church, Tournafulla here