In the middle of the 19th century a Mr. James Jones, Solicitor, built the three Georgian houses adjacent to Chapel Lane in Mallow. Two of these houses now form the Parish Centre at 27/28 Bank Place. Mr. Jones also built the house across the road, ‘East Lynne’ an architectural gem, as tradition tells us he wished to have a beautiful vista from his windows. He died in 1858 and in 1864 the houses were sold to Mr John Kepple, a prominent Mallow solicitor, school companion of Canon Sheehan and William O’Brien, and first Chairman of the Mallow Urban District Council.
In the 1901 Census the occupiers of No. 26 were Helena Power, No. 27 Hannah Murphy and No. 28 Margaret Barry. While by the 1911 Census the Occupiers of No. 26 are Dr. Thomas Homan, No. 27 Ms. Elizabeth Kepple and in No. 28 lived Rev Richard Ahern.
The centre house No 27 was bought by the Parish in 1924. One of the signatures of the purchasing contract was Rev. James J Roche, future Bishop of Ross and later of Cloyne, who occupied the house at that time. In later years Monsignors Sheedy and Ronayne lived in this house also.
The corner house No. 28 beside Chapel Lane had a more varied history. It was rented to many people over the years including a Mr. Desmond who was a commercial traveller and a Dr. O' Connor who had a great interest in greyhounds. After 1911 it became the Mallow Commercial Club. It was distinct from the Mallow Club which occupied the house near the present Post Office and which catered specifically for the gentry and the upper classes. The Commercial Club was frequented by the business and professional people of Mallow and had a membership count of about eighty. It was an all-male club and Doctors Holman, Vaughan and Sheehan were regular visitors. Michael Collins spent an evening in the Club a few days before his death in 1922.
The Club was well appointed. The room to the left inside the main door was the Reading Room. In the centre of this room was a large mahogany table covered with a green cloth. Scattered on the table were newspapers and periodicals such as Sketch, Punch and later the Dublin Opinion. Comfortable armchairs were placed around the room and a bright fire always glowed in the fireplace.
Directly at the top of the first landing was the Billiard Room with one large full-sized billiard table. To the right of this room was the Bar, which was opened for a short time before lunch and from 6 p.m. to 12 midnight. There was a pleasant fire in the fireplace and snacks were served with the drinks.
The top storey of the house had two bedrooms and a toilet, and it was the caretaker’s flat. The first caretaker was Mr Mullane from Ballydaheen who remained but for a short time. Mr and Mrs Edmond Browne from Cahir then became the Steward and Stewardess of the Club.
Downstairs were the pantry, scullery, and a great big kitchen, with an old iron range, all of which remained unchanged up to the time it became the Parish Centre. Here the suppers of Tripe and Drisheen, and sandwiches of ham and cheese were prepared. They were served with drinks to the members every Wednesday and Saturday nights from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the second room to the left inside the main door. Mr Browne, always kept a supply of pigs trotters which he sold for one shilling each in the Bar and at supper.
About 1925, Mrs Elizabeth Barry, widow of James Barry, who owned a bakery in Main St and a farm in Carrigoon, sold her property and bought No. 28. The Club transferred to Hanover’s cake shop at West End. Mrs Barry lived in this house up to the time of her death in 1942 when the Parish purchased it as a Priest’s residence.
In the 1970s, Monsignor R. J. Ronayne P.P., built two new houses in the Cannon Field and the Monsignor and Rev. Doctor T. McSweeney transferred from the old houses which were then put up for sale. In 1980 Quinnsworth bought the two houses for about £80,000, subject to planning permission, which was granted by the Mallow Urban Council. Objections were lodged, however, against the permission and it was appealed to An Bord Pleanala, who held a Public Enquiry in Mallow. The objections were upheld and the planning permission refused on the grounds of inadequate parking facilities.
At this time, Very Rev. Canon Denis O Callaghan, Professor of Theology in St Patrick’s College, Maynooth was appointed Parish Priest of Mallow. As the value of houses generally had depreciated, Canon O Callaghan decided to retain the two houses and reconstruct them as a Parish Centre. It was officially opened by Bishop John Ahern of Cloyne on the 19 March 1985.
The Parish Office is on the left when you enter the main door of the Parish Centre. The opposite front room is used for many meeting of Pastoral Councils and Finance Meeting, Accord and many more. The Cloyne Diocese Genealogy Centre (Mallow Heritage Centre) Office, greet and welcome many people from all over the world since 1985. On the second floor there is a large meeting room available which hosts Adult Education courses, Active retirement groups and available for rental for other various parish group. Blackwater Community Employment Scheme also occupies a room there. The top floor where there is still a caretaker’s flat is used by Adult Literacy Association and Mallow Development Partnership and a Heritage Archives room. The basement which is now available for rent was recently used by the Patrician Academy for after school study and was also the home of Indexation of Parish Records Project for many years.
The Parish pastoral council is a leadership group through which priests and people work together as partners in furthering the mission of Christ.
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