History of St. Colmcille's
Swords Parish is dedicated to St. Colmcille 'The Dove of the Church' who brought Christianity to the area in 560 AD. St. Colmcille blessed the well of clear water, thus giving the town it's name 'Sord' meaning clear or pure.
Stained glass window dedicated to St. Colmcille and plaque of Parish Priests names from 1608 - 1975
The Round and Square Towers are all that remain of the Saint’s monastic settlement. When Penal Laws were in force, Mass was said in Swords House, home of Michael Taylor, now the site of Fingal Co. Council’s Civil Building. The present classic style Church was built in 1827 (at a cost of £1820.00), replacing an older Church which was nearer the Main Street.
The Parish Priest at the time was Dominican, Fr James Vincent Carey who secured the site for the new church, free of charge, from James Taylor of Swords House.
Fr. Carey was pastor of the parish for some fifty years, and made many improvements to the Church and Schools, including those in Malahide, which was part of Swords parish until 1941.
A plaque at the back of the Church gives a list of Parish Priests from1608 right up the the present. Why not stop and have a look sometime.
Over the years many people will have heard the ringing of the church bell for various events.
However not many will have seen it.
The present altar was installed in 1881
The Church has been altered several times over the years; in1879 the two storey vestry at the rear was added on and in 1924was altered to its present appearance.
1991 saw (amongst other matters), new windows were installed, Followed some years later (2001), by the new altar and marble altar rails These were erected to the memory of Rev. David Mulcahy, and were changed to give more space at the altar area.
On the 16th January 2001, while the work on the main altar was in progress, a piece of paper in a porter bottle was found under the original altar by Billy and Peter Portland; it was signed by Fr Mulcahy and gave the names of those who had worked on erecting the altar.
Signature of Fr. Mulcahy
Some other dates in the Church building history include
1879 - the two storey vestry at the rear was added
1881 - building of the altar we knew for many years. Little is known of the altar that it replaced.
1923 - construction of the steeple for the sum of £149-16s-5p
1960 - the installation of the temporary altar where the priest faced the congregation as a result of the new liturgy.
The piece of paper was found in this porter bottle under the original altar
The Church at Swords was known in older times as plebania or mother church. During the 20th century, this name could be said to apply again, as the influx of people to the greater Swords area, two new parishes have been constituted; Brackenstown and River Valley, while Swords still administers the Churches at the Airport and Drynam.
The old Church is surrounded by the graves of generations of Swords people among them famous Irish Patriot, A.J. Kettle, who was known as ‘Parnell’s Right Hand man’.
One particularly unusual headstone is to the memory of Patrick Carey who died on the 19th. March 1879 aged 30. At the time his father planted a tree in his memory near the grave and as can be seen from the picture, the headstone has become embedded into the tree over the years.
St. Colmcille’s Well was re-dedicated with an ecumenical service in 1992 and is said to have curative properties for those with sore eyes.