St Matthias

St Matthias, Ballydehob

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Béal Átha dá Chab translates as “the ford mouth of two jaws” derived from the fact that the river which flows into the estuary at Ballydehob divides in two a short distance upstream, and in the days before bridges, both streams had to be forded.


There is evidence that a village, or settlement, existed here from the 16th century at least. The area, with its rich variation of soil types, lent itself to small farm size and mixed farming, which in turn gave rise to farmyard enterprises. As a result, large numbers of pigs, poultry, cattle and dairy products were transported out of the area.

To facilitate this, a light railway was constructed from Skibbereen to Schull, passing through Ballydehob. This was opened in 1886. It crossed the Ballydehob estuary on the famous 12 arched bridge which stands today in perfect condition, a mute tribute to the engineering skills of bygone days. With the coming of heavy motorised transport the line closed in 1948.

Up until 1829 Ballydehob, being part of Schull parish, had no Church of Ireland church of its own. As the journey from outlying areas to worship in Schull was too far for those travelling on foot, and in view of the ever-increasing Protestant population, it was considered necessary to build a chapel of ease at Ballydehob. This was opened in 1829 and consecrated to Saint Matthias and comprises the centre third of the present church building.

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ballydehob02 The organ was built by T. W. Magahy in 1923 and rebuilt by Paul Neiland of Neiland Organs, Pipe Organ Builders and Restorers, in 2006.
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