St. Cooey’s Oratory
Mass used to be celebrated in a small oratory in St. Patrick’s Hall along the shore in Portaferry. Then, in the mid 1960s, the Parish Priest, Father Patrick McAlea, organised the purchase of two shops and a house to enable the building of a church in the town’s square. To make the site large enough, Jeannie Convey, Gerard Baird and Alec and Jean McCartney donated their back gardens.
Architects McLean and Forte designed the boat-shaped building, with a courtyard in front. This is dominated by a porch-like structure known as a port cochere. Granite from Wicklow was chiselled to provide the ambo, tabernacle, credence table and altar which itself weighs one ton.
The exterior of the church is concealed behind a free-standing belfry which contains a bell, once used in St. Patrick’s, built in 1762. Building work began in Christmas week 1966 and was carried out by Joseph Dynes of Ardkeen.
St Cooey’s Oratory was opened on 29th June 1968 and blessed by Bishop William Philbin. Two ancient stones from the ruined 7th century Temple Cooey church stand outside.
Fr Morgan chose St Cooey as the patron saint of the new Oratory and foundation stones were brought from nearby Temple Cooey.
St Cooey(Cowey) is the anglicised version of Saint Cu’Mhaighe. He is unfortunately only recorded in tradition.