The Church on Clare Island, built almost in the centre of the Island in the village of Kill is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It was erected between 1860 and 1862 by the Rev. James B. Davis on a little plot of ground close to the Abbey.
Originally there were five statues in the Church; the Sacred Heart, Our Blessed Lady, St. Joseph and two Cherubim Angels. The construction of the Church continued throughout the twentieth century with the 1920’s and 30’s proving a particularly busy time. A bell was hung in the Belfry in 1920. In 1924 a ciborium was presented by the Sacred Heart Sodality.1929 saw the procurement of a bell organ. In 1936 eight cathedral glass windows were fitted. In the same year the exterior of the Church was cemented, boundary walls were built and entrances into the Church formed. The interior of the Church was painted in 1937.
Work began again in the 1950’s and 60’s. In 1954, a stained glass window, a set of vestments and a chalice were donated by Patrick Jo O’ Grady, Chicago – the chalice of Celtic design is still used regularly for mass. In 1964 and 1965 the Church was renovated extensively. A new sanctuary was added, a new roof constructed and the interior of the building was plastered. This work was completed by Pat McNamara, John O’ Malley (Lecarrow), Anthony Burns and Billy Gallagher under the supervision of the Rev. Paddy Curran (RIP). George Coleman was architect. John Ned O’ Malley donated the Alter and tabernacle in memory of his deceased parents. It is worth noting that changes brought about under Vatican 11 meant that the new alter now faced the congregation; prior to this the priest had his back to the congregation. At this time Mrs Sarah Hayes donated the Stations of the Cross to the Church in memory of her parents.
Over 20 years later, extensive work was carried out under the supervision of the Rev. Patrick Mullins. The Church was rededicated in 1988.
The turn of the millennium saw the restoration of the Church Bell by Marcus Sweeney and Humphrey O’ Leary, while Martin Gallagher and Brendan O’ Leary erected the bell. This work was carried out under the supervision of the Rev Carney. Sadly in 2002 a resident priest on the island was no more.
In 2006, central heating was installed, the windows were stormed glazed and the St. Anthony of Padua window donated by Austin and Felicity O’ Malley. Marcus Sweeney& Co. donated three exterior doors, while Michael Scofield donated a chalice in memory of his family. The chalice is used regularly in the celebration of mass on the Island. Leo Concannon donated a chasuble in 2008.
The Church has been a constant in both joyous and sorrowful occasions – christenings, communions, confirmations, marriages and funerals. The Church remains such a central focus in our community over the years due to the hard work of many – the various parish councils, readers, builders, servers, choirs, cleaners, grounds keepers but in particular all the priests who have served us so well.
May this Church continue to serve its community for many more years to come, Le Cúnamh Dé.