Spanish Church Church




N 54° 38' 43.98"   W 008° 35' 40.74"

Nearest town


Grid Ref.

G 61617 77647

Map No.


Elevation a.s.l. (m)


Date of visit

Tuesday 13 June 2017

GPS Accuracy (m)

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The church is approached along a paved path.

Just off the R261 between Carrick and Kilcar there are the naked ruins of the Spanish Church, built in the second half of the 18th century.

According to the lore, a certain Father James Carr was called by a parishioner to administer the Last Sacrament to his dying father living some miles away. The priest got his horse and rode to his destination following a shortcut on a coastal path. The weather was stormy and the sea was raging. While riding his horse to the house of the dying man, the priest heard a cry for help coming from the rocks below the cliffs. The priest dismounted his horse and looked down the cliffs, saw an injured sailor and pulled him up to a safe shelter. Father James soon realized that the drowning sailor was speaking Spanish. Father James was familiar with this language having him studied for his priesthood in Salamanca, Spain. So he was able to understand that the poor sailor was dying. The Spaniard told the priest he had prayed to Our Lady for a peaceful death, and when he realized that his prayer had been heard he asked the priest to build a church dedicated to Our Lady with the gold money the sailor had in his belt.
Father James Carr promised to do so and the sailor breathed his last.
Apparently the sailor had much more money than it was necessary to build a church, so Father Carr built two churches, one here and another one near Glencolumbkille.

This church is just an empty a plain structure built with stones of two different colours.
The roof is missing, but it seems it was a thatched rounded roof, with the thatch being held down by a network of ropes fastened to pins along the roof line in the long walls and on the east and west gables.
All windows have been boarded up. There's only a small timber door in the south wall. The church floor is paved with stone slabs. Against the south wall inside the church is a table-like structure which apparently has used a previous Mass rock/slab as a table.
The church is aligned to the east (95°).

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