Diocese Of Galway

The Diocese

The Diocese Of Galway, Kilmacduagh And Kilfenora

The diocese covers over a thousand square miles and includes all of Galway city, much of south Connemara, and south Co. Galway, the parishes of north Co. Clare and one parish (Shrule) in Co. Mayo.

Galway and Kilmacduagh lie in the ecclesiastical province of Tuam while Kilfenora lies in the ecclesiastical province of Cashel.

The Bishop

Since the retirement of Most Rev. Martin Drennan in July 2016, the diocese has been under the care of an Administrator.

However, on 11th December 2017, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, announced that Bishop Brendan Kelly, Bishop Of Achonry, is to be the new Bishop of Galway and Kilmacduagh and Apostolic Administrator of Kilfenora.

Bishop Kelly is to be installed in Galway Cathedral on 11th February 2018.

Until that time the diocese continues under the care of:
Very Rev. Michael Canon McLoughlin
Galway Diocesan Office
The Cathedral
+353 (0)91 563566

The Diocesan Office

Galway Diocesan Office
The Cathedral
+353 (0)91 563566

The Cathedral Of Our Lady Assumed Into Heaven And St. Nicholas

After the demplition of the old Galway jail in 1949, John J. Robinson of Dublin was appointed architect for a new cathedral. Planning continued until 1957 when Pope Pius XII approved the plans submitted to him by Dr Browne, the then bishop. Cardinal D’Alton, the Archbishop of Armagh, blessed the site and the foundation stone on 27 October 1957. The construction, which began in February 1958, was undertaken by Messrs John Sisk Ltd of Dublin. The poeple of the diocese contributed to a weekly collection, and donations were received from home and abroad. The total cost, including furnishing, was almost one million Irish pounds. Pope Paul VI appointed Cardinal Cushing, Archbishop of Boston, Pontifical Legate to dedicate the cathedral on the feast of the Assumption, 15 August 1965.

Very Rev. Peter Canon Rabbitte
The Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and St. Nicholas
+353 (0)91 563577

A Brief History Of The Diocese

The Wardenship (1484-1831)

Sometime in the late twelfth century, a diocese known as Annaghdown came into existence in the area surrounding Galway city. In 1324 this diocese was united with Tuam, its metropolitan see. However, the Anglo-Norman families of the city of Galway (the Tribes of Galway) refused to accept direct government from Tuam, and in 1484 the Archbishop of Tuam exempted them from his jurisdiction. Pope Innocent VIII sanctioned this and made the city church of Saint Nicholas a Collegiate Church governed by a warden (who was not a bishop) and eight vicars, who were presented and elected solely by the inhabitants of the town’, i.e. the ‘tribal’ families. This arrangement survived even penal times.
From the early nineteenth century, canvassing, disputes and semi-rioting became a regular feature of the election of each warden. In February 1828 the Irish bishops recommended to Rome that the wardenship be ended and a normal diocesan structure be established.

Diocese of Galway (1831-1883)

Edmund Ffrench, the last Warden of Galway, was made Bishop of Kilmacduagh in 1824 and on 27 April 1831 the Bull Sedium Episcopalism was issued by Pope Gregory XVI, erecting the diocese of Galway. On 23 October of that year the first bishop of the diocese, George Joseph Plunkett Browne, was consecrated in Athlone. In 1844 he was transferred to Elphin diocese and was succeeded by Laurence O’Donnell, a native of Oughterard, who was consecrated on 28 October 1845. Laurence O’Donnell died on 23 June 1855 and in March 1857 John McEvilly was consecrated Bishop of Galway in Tuam Cathedral by Archbishop McHale. In 1866 he was appointed Administrator of Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora and though appointed co-adjutor to the Archdiocese of Tuam in 1878 he remained Bishop of Galway until Archbishop McHale’s death in 1881.

Diocese of Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora (1132-1883)

The Diocese of Kilfenora and the Diocese of Kilmacduagh were both erected and had their territories defined by the Synod of Kells in 1132. In 1751 the two dioceses were united but because Kilfenora was in the ecclesiastical province of Cashel and Kilmacduagh in the province of Tuam, the Bishop of Kilmacduagh was made the Apostolic Administrator of Kilfenora, and it was decreed that the next person holding episcopal jurisdiction in Kilmacduagh-Kilfenora would be Bishop of Kilfenora and Apostolic Administrator of Kilmacduagh. This system of alternation continued down to the last bishop, Patrick Fallon, who resigned in 1866.

Diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh & Kilfenora (1883-present)

In 1866 the Bishop of Galway, John McEvilly, was made administrator of Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora. In 1883, Thomas Carr was appointed bishop, the first to be appointed with the title of Bishop of Galway and Kilmacduagh and Apostolic Administrator of Kilfenora. This provision provides for the peculiar circumstance that, since the Bishop of Galway administers the Diocese of Kilfenora on behalf of the Holy Father, the Pope is, by implication, the Bishop of Kilfenora.

Episcopal Succession

Bishops of Galway and Kilmacduagh and Apostolic Administrators of Kilfenora

2016 – present Brendan Kelly
2005 – 2016 Martin Drennan
1993 – 2005 James McLoughlin
1976 – 1992 Eamonn Casey
1937 – 1976 Michael Browne
1923 – 1936 Thomas O’Doherty
1909 – 1923 Thomas O’Dea
1887 – 1908 Francis McCormack
1883 – 1887 Thomas Carr
1883 Pope Leo XIII joined the diocese of Kilmacduagh to Galway and made the Bishop of Galway Apostolic Administrator of Kilfenora in perpetuum.

Bishops of Galway

1857 – 1883 John McEvilly
1844 – 1855 Laurence O’Donnell
1831 – 1844 George Browne

Bishops of Kilmacduagh and Apostolic Administrators of Kilfenora

1853 – 1866 Patrick Fallon
1824 – 1852 Edmund French
1800 – 1824 Nicholas Archdeacon
1800 Richard Luke
1795 – 1799 Edward Dillon
1783 – 1795 Laurence Nihil
1750 Diocese of Kilfenora & Kilmacduagh united by the appointment of Peter Kilkelly, Bishop of Kilmacduagh as Apostolic Administrator of Kilfenora.