The Church of St Colmcille at Knockaconey ,in the Cathedral Parish of Armagh, was blessed and opened by His Eminence Cardinal D’Alton on Sunday 30 November 1958. The first sod on the site of the new church was turned in the Spring of 1956 and after more than two years of intensive development the completed building was realised to the justifiable pride of people within the Annacramp-Knockaconey domain, and the parish of Armagh in general.
The new building replaced the old church at Annacramp – also named St Colmcille’s – which had served the local parish community for more than a century. It stood on the site of what was originally a Mass rock or garden but later became the authorized location for the chapel when a formal site was offered by a gentleman known as Robert Cope of Drumilly.
The new Church of St Colmcille at Knockaconey, described by His Eminence Cardinal D’Alton at the solemn blessing and opening as “ a most worthy offering to Almighty God”, was constructed on land offered by Charles O’Hagan, who lived at Knockaconey, and Nan Hughes who lived in the townland of Grange.
The architects for the project were McLean and Forte, Belfast and the practical implementation of the plans was spearheaded by the then Administrator of Armagh parish Fr John Mackle.
The stones used in the building of St Colmcille’s Church at Knockaconey came from the walls of an old building known as Clone’s Castle at Drumbanagher, near Poyntzpass in Co. Armagh. Samples of the stones, believed to be originally from Scotland, were analysed in a department of Queen’s University, Belfast and it was confirmed as white English sandstone.
A notable feature of the design of St Colmcille’s Church is the repetition of the St Patrick’s Bell motif throughout. This is particularly evident in the large window to the front aspect of the church which shows St Patrick’s Bell framing a stained glass fitting which depicts St Colmcille in his boat as he sails to Iona.
The church of St Colmcille at Knockaconey underwent renovation in 1970 and again in 1991 with further renewal and enrichment in preparation for the Golden Jubilee year of 2008.
The words of Most Rev Dr Quinn, then Bishop of Kilmore and former Administrator of Armagh, spoken at the blessing and opening of St Colmcille’s Church in 1958, have become even more meaningful with the passing of time:
“This beautiful church is built for present needs but not for these alone. No Catholic thinks of it as of his or her own day only; you have put it here in confidence that it will serve your children, and your children’s children, when you yourselves are gone. A centre of living faith, it will survive the generations.”