The Ferry Point, Passage West

There is some early mention of a ferry crossing from Passage West to Carrigaloe including the granting of a licence by King James 1 in the early 1600’s to the Terry Family.  Colonel James Roche, during the Siege of Derry 1689, swam up river to deliver dispatches to the besieged city asking them to hold out that help was coming. There after James Roche became known as the “Swimmer” and for his bravery King William, awarded him with ownership rights of most of the ferries in Ireland, including the Passage West to Carrigaloe. 

1836. In 20 days the Passage West to Carrigaloe ferry carried 20,400 people.

For many years the ferry would have been the main access route from West Cork & Kerry to the Great Island & Cobh, particularly during the famine period.

The ferry continued to operate until the late 1950’s and the last Ferryman was Michael (Micko) O’Connell of Carrigaloe.


The Siege of Cork

In 1690 a large force under the command of the Duke of Marlborough landed his troops at Horsehead, Passage West (near Rockenham House) and they camped overnight in the field where Pembroke Wood estate is now located. The next morning the army proceeded via Rochestown & Douglas to lay siege and eventually capture Cork City.

One of the ships which landed troops at Passage and also shelled the City was the Bredah, Later that year she was anchored in Cork Harbour with a full complement of 400 aboard, including troops and 160 Jacobite prisoners, captured after the Siege of Cork, when a gunpowder explosion occurred on 12 October 1690. She caught fire and exploded.  There are two versions of how the explosion happened. One version was that John Barrett, a Jacobite prisoner who escaped, was considered to have deliberately blown up the ship. The other version was that her Commanding Officer, Capt. Tennet, went to check on the gunpowder store with a “lighted candle ...& BANG”. 390 souls died, including most of the prisoners who were in chains below decks.                    

Jim Murphy

(Visit the Maritime Museum to find out more of the proud history of our area).

As a newsletter team we would like to honour Mícheál Mernagh this weekend.  Mícheál passed away unexpectedly on 25th May 2020 at his home in Raheens, Shanbally.  For many years Mícheál contributed enormously to our newsletter with his weekly feature ‘Pause for thought.’ These reflections, though deliberately short, were always full of wisdom and insight and always gave us plenty of food for thought.  In recent years declining health meant that Mícheál’s contributions have been less frequent but we always looked forward to his occasional reflections which continued to challenge the way we looked at faith, at life and the world.  We are grateful to Mícheál for his generosity in sharing these reflections with us over so many years and now wish him the fulness of peace in God’s presence.  We extend our sincere sympathy to his partner Clair. We honour Mícheál this week by re-printing one of his many contributions.

A young man applied for a job as a trainee accountant.  He attended the interview but was not offered the job because he had not gone to university. On his way home from the interview he felt he needed a cup of tea to ease his disappointment, but there were no tea shops anywhere in the locality. Just then he noticed an empty shop on a street corner and had an idea. He rented the shop and opened a tearoom.  His business prospered. He opened another shop and then another.  By the time he retired his business had grown to eighty-five tearooms and he was a millionaire many times over. At his retirement, a journalist asked him: “What would you have been if you had gone to university?” He answered: “I would have been an accountant!” What may seem to be a disappointment in life often turns out to be an opportunity and a blessing.                             Mícheál Mernagh

August marked the end of an era in Passage West Parish as Sr Rosarii Darby and Sr Betty Barry quietly left us to join communities of the Sisters of Mercy in Clonakilty and Kerry respectively. Like so many other before them, Sr Rosarii and Sr Betty each made an enormous contribution to the life of our community and their absence is deeply felt by their many friends and so many others who benefitted down the years from their generous service. 

In normal circumstances we would have gathered to celebrate their contribution to our community, to express our deep and enduring appreciation and to offer them a fitting farewell.  Sadly that was not possible at the time of their departure due to current restrictions but we look forward to welcoming both of them back when public health guidelines allow us to do so.  Hopefully that will allow us to show them how much they mean to our community and how much we appreciate all they have done for our parish.                                              

Fr Con, Fr John & Fr Seán


Monday afternoon, 11th May 2020, witnessed a heart-warming outpouring of affection for Sr Rosarii Darby as she celebrated her 88th birthday. Despite the restrictions on public gatherings, friends from throughout the parish found a novel way to honour this remarkable woman with a birthday cavalcade salute that respected all the public health guidelines on social distancing.  The spirit of the celebration is well captured in the following article from the Echolive website on Tuesday which also features a short video clip of the celebrations. 


 Echolive - Sr Rosarii  

 Happy Birthday Rosarii.  We hope you enjoyed this small expression of how much you mean to our community.  You deserve it all and much much more.

Fr Sean

A ray of hope and a new beginning starting on Monday 29th June 2020.

The government roadmap for easing the Covid-19 restrictions allows for Public Worship to resume on Monday 29th June 2020.  To be able to once more gather in prayer and to celebrate Mass together in our Churches is a cause of great joy for our parish. But, as in so many other aspects of life, things will be different when we return. New practices and protocols drawn up by the Irish Bishops will be implemented in all Churches in order to protect and safeguard the well-being of parishioners and to reduce the risk of the spread of Covid-19.  It will take time for us to get accustomed to these new arrangements.  We are all creatures of habit and it will seem strange for a while to have to do things differently but the health of parishioners is and must be our primary concern and the changes we are introducing are all about allowing people to pray in a way that is safe.

What will be the biggest difference when we return?

The biggest difference and our greatest challenge will be the reduced capacity of our Churches.  Social distancing means that the capacity of our Churches will be reduced to approximately one fifth of their normal capacity.  It will simply not be possible, at least not initially, for all those who normally participate together in our Sunday Masses to do so.

How can we address this challenge?

During this crisis the Church has lifted the traditional obligation to attend Sunday Mass.  Therefore we are encouraging parishioners who wish to attend Mass to join us at one of our weekday Masses where possible instead of on Sunday.  For the first couple of weeks after the 29th June we will celebrate public Mass on weekdays but will not return to Sunday Mass immediately.  This will hopefully allow us to get used to the various new protocols and practices that are being introduced.

Once we have established best practice and feel it is safe to do so, we will resume our celebration of Sunday Mass but, even then, it will be with a dramatically reduced capacity.  Therefore it would greatly help if those who can go to a weekday Mass instead of Sunday Mass would continue to do so until we are allowed to safely accommodate more people in the Church. In so doing you would be making space available for those who can only go to Mass on Sunday.  We will advise parishioners in advance of exactly when we will recommence our Sunday Masses.

Should I go to Mass?

It is a really good question and there is no one answer that is right for all.  As I said above there is no obligation on anyone to go to Mass during this crisis.  It is a matter of personal choice which is as it should be!  Some people are understandably nervous or anxious about gathering with others in public spaces and so we encourage everyone to decide for themselves what is right for them in their particular circumstances having listened to the advice of their doctor and their family.  And so;

  • Some people may choose to continue to join us in prayer from home availing of our Mass live-streamed on Facebook each Sunday at 11.00 a.m.
  • If you are sick or have flu-like symptoms we ask you to please stay home to protect others.
  • If you are vulnerable because of age or some underlying health condition, or if you are caring for someone who is, it might be best for you to stay at home for now as a precaution but we respect each person’s right to come to their own decision.

I normally go to Mass each day.  What do I do now?

Given our reduced capacity we ask those who normally join us for Mass each day to restrict themselves to attending Mass to once a week, just for now, in order to allow others the opportunity to come to Mass as well.  We appreciate that this will be a real sacrifice for many of you and we only ask it to give others an opportunity as well. Please God it will only be for a short time.  As soon as we can invite you to resume your normal routine we will.  In the meantime we encourage you to continue participating in Mass on other weekdays, as you have been doing in recent months, via the daily Masses broadcast on RTE New Now and    Your prayer from home is a powerful source of grace for all of us.


Revised Schedule of Weekday Masses for July 2020.


10.00 a.m. Mass

7.30 p.m. Mass






Passage West


Passage West




Passage West





Passage West



What changes will I notice when I come to Mass?

The following guidelines and protocols will apply each time you come to Mass.

  • Observe physical distancing both inside and outside the Church.
  • Follow the guidance of the stewards and the information displayed at the entrance.
  • Sanitise your hands at entrance and exit.
  • Follow the one-way system marked on floor.
  • Pews where people can sit will be marked with a green tick. People living in the same house may share a pew without physical distancing.
  • We will not have our choirs singing for the immediate future.
  • The Sign of Peace is suspended for the present.
  • The priest and Ministers of the Eucharist will sanitise their hands immediately before and after the distribution of Holy Communion and wear face masks during the distribution of Communion.
  • Stewards will guide you for the distribution of Holy Communion. You are asked to receive Holy Communion in the hand.
  • Collection baskets for your weekly offering will be available at the entrance and/or at the exit.
  • If you use a missalette at Mass please take it home with you.
  • Please exit the Church using the designated exit and maintaining physical distance.                                                                                       

I appreciate that these changes will take some getting used to but everything we are doing is being done to keep people safe and to reduce the risk of anyone unintentionally spreading the corona virus.  We have worked too hard to control the virus over these past few months to allow a resurgence now.  If you have any questions or concerns about these new protocols please feel free to contact me.

Thank you for your understanding and co-operation. Working together we will come through this!

Please continue to pray for all those who are affected by the corona virus and all those who have lost loved ones these past months.  May God comfort their broken hearts and renew their lives in hope.

Beannacht Dé orainn go léir.

Fr Seán

Returning To Celebrating Mass Together June 2020

In recent weeks Bishop Fintan Gavin has authorised parishes to re-open Churches for personal prayer provided that diocesan safety guidelines are strictly adhered to. On Wednesday night, in a historic first, the Parish Assembly met in a virtual online meeting to discuss how we as a community could begin to make our Churches available for prayer whilst ensuring everyone’s safety and wellbeing.

The Assembly was very conscious of the government guidance that those who are ‘cocooning’ and self-isolating should leave home only for exercise and would hope that parishioners would not be tempted to visit the Church, as much as they would love to, until such time that they are advised that they can mix more freely and visit other homes and centres.  The Assembly was also mindful of the fact that many parishioners would welcome an opportunity to visit the Church to say a prayer or to light a candle in these anxious and uncertain times.  After careful consideration the Assembly decided that each of our Churches would be opened on a phased and gradual basis. 

For the first two weeks, beginning on Tuesday 19th May 2020, our Churches will be open for personal prayer at the following times:

Passage West Church & Ringaskiddy Oratory                                   

Tuesday and Thursday                  11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Sunday:                                       3:00 to 5:00 p.m.

Monkstown Church and Shanbally Church

Tuesday and Thursday                  3:00  to 5:00 p.m.

Sunday:                                       3:00 to 5:00 p.m.

This arrangement will be reviewed at the end of the initial two weeks.

During this initial period stewards will be present in the Church to help people understand and follow new Church protocols such as sanitising their hands on entering and leaving the Church, using the designated entrance and exit, maintaining a physical distance of two metres and only lighting shrine candles from a candle that is already lighting.  We ask people to be guided by the stewards so that we can all get used of adhering to best practice and ensuring a safe environment for everyone who wishes to worship in our Church. Church surfaces will be sanitised at the end of each prayer period and sanitising wipes will be also available at the entrance porch for those who wish to use them.

The Parish Assembly would like to thank all those who have volunteered to act as stewards in this initial period as we become accustomed to doing things in a new way. The changes that we are asking people to take on board serve one purpose, namely to keep everyone safe.  We are also grateful to all those who have offered to help in cleaning and sanitising the Churches as the need arises in the coming weeks and months.

The government roadmap for the easing of restrictions does not envisage any gatherings in Church until 20th July 2020 at the earliest.  As restrictions are lifted we will continue to be guided by public health advice and will prioritise the safety of everyone in our praying community, especially those who are vulnerable in any way.  The Lord, who spend much of his ministry curing the sick and restoring people to health, would expect nothing less of us!

Government statements advising Over 70s to “cocoon” for their own safety have been clarified because of confusion they caused and after complaints from the public and from charities working with elderly people about the confusion and upset they had created.

 The HSE and Department of Health this week confirmed that “cocooning” is advisory and not mandatory.

 The Health (Preservation and Protection and other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) Act 2020, passed by Government contains provisions to fine or imprison those who do not obey an order from a Garda to return home, if that Garda believes the person is making an unnecessary journey outside a two kilometre zone from their home.  However there is no provision in that Act to sanction Over 70s who leave their homes.

 The HSE has “strongly advised” those in what it describes as the “at risk category”, that is to say those over 70 years of age and those with underlying health conditions, to  stay at home and not to leave home in any circumstances. They urge those ‘cocooning’ to get their shopping delivered and to arrange for medications to be left outside their door. The initial HSE statements caused many people to believe that it was illegal to go out if they were over 70 but this is not so.

 We hope the government’s recent clarification will ease the distress and confusion that many people felt when the guidelines were first communicated.  At the same time we encourage everyone in our community to follow the advice of our public health authorities in order to keep themselves and everyone else safe. By all playing our part, together we can fight the spread of the virus and save lives.  

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