The Formation of the Parish
In March 1988 the Parish Priest of St Anne’s, Monsignor Thomas Bartley, bought Netherlands house as a facility for St Anne’s parish and as a residence for the curate’s of St Anne’s. The name ‘Netherlands’ conveys the idea of ‘beyond the ownership of one person’.
Netherland’s house had been built on Upper Dunmurry Lane in the early 1930’s and the first owner, Mrs Mc Farlane, had a large family of five boys and two girls. The house was in fact a farm house, with extensive farmlands stretching back to the Stewartstown Road. The house is remembered as having byres, lofts, a milking parlour, two large wooden greenhouses and a saddle room which eventually became a games room. In the Mc Farlane family the two daughters were teachers in Dunmurry and later became missionaries. Netherley Lodge, the present Parochial House, was built next to Netherlands house as a retirement home for them. Of the five sons, Alex was a vet, John, Edward and Samuel were involved in motor engineering with a particular interest in motorbikes. One of the sons, Samuel was tragically killed in a motorbike accident on Upper Dunmurry Lane involving a jeep of American soldiers. Another son, Harold, was a farmer.
In 1959 Netherlands House is recorded as belonging to Mr J.S. Bradbury. In August 1969 Mr Gerard Keenan proprietor of a fish and frozen food company bought the house which is recorded at that time as having five bedrooms, three reception rooms and sitting on a site of between one and a half and two acres of land. The grounds were laid out in lawns, shrubs and trees. In March 1988 Mr Keenan planned to develop the site by demolishing the house and building 10 town houses on the site. It was then that Monsignor Bartley stepped in to secure the site for use of St Anne’s parish.
On the 8th August 1996 the Bishop of the Diocese, Dr. Patrick Walsh after a period of consultation agreed to establish a new parish and resurrected the ancient ecclesiastical name of Kilwee. The new parish had 1100 families, approximately 3,600 parishioners. Canon Patrick Mc Garry was appointed Parish Priest and Fr Brendan Hickland, a curate from St Anne’s, was to assist him. As a tangible link with the ancient name and tradition, the Holy Water Font of the 13th Century Chapel of Kilwee, entrusted in 1927 by the Mc Cance family to the Ulster Museum and in turn presented in 1948 to St Anne’s Parish, finally returned ‘home’ to serve as the Holy Water Font in the new parish of Our Lady Queen of Peace, Kilwee.
For the first three months of the new parish weekend Masses were celebrated in a portacabin in the grounds of Netherlands house. During the week the portacabin served as facilities for a parish playgroup led by Mrs Eithne Byrne. Daily Mass was celebrated in Netherlands House, in the former games room which had been converted to an oratory.
On 8th December 1996 Auxiliary Bishop, Michael Dallat, consecrated a building on the Stewartstown Road for the use by the parish as a temporary church. This building, a former Presbyterian church, was then in the ownership of the proprietors of the adjacent Nursing Home. At Canon Mc Garry’s request the building and its adjoining hall were renovated.
Sacraments were celebrated, the parish playgroup were facilitated and the curate found accommodation. The parish then leased this facility from the owner. In November 1997 a design by the architect, Paul Monaghan of Lurgan, was accepted for a new church to be built on the site of Netherlands House. In October 1998 the site was blessed in preparation for its construction. On Sunday 31st October 1999 the new church was solemnly dedicated to Our Lady Queen of Peace by Reverend Patrick Walsh, Bishop of the Diocese of Down and Connor. A few months after the opening of the church, Canon Patrick Mc Garry tragically succumbed to a serious illness and died 24 February 2000. His curate Fr Brendan Hickland, was appointed to succeed him as Parish Priest in August 2000. In September 2001 Our Lady Queen of Peace Primary School and Nursery Unit with accommodation for 350 children, was opened a short distance from the church at the junction of Upper Dunmurry Lane and Cherry Road. Mrs Anne Nixon was appointed its first Principal.
After the opening of the new church, the temporary church on the Stewartstown Road became a Parish Centre until it was returned to the owner in June 2010 who demolished the buildings to make way for an extension to the adjacent nursing home. In January 2009 Fr Hickland was appointed Parish Priest of St Teresa’s parish on the Glen Road. He was succeeded by Fr Colm Mc Bride from the Parish of Ardkeen on the Ards Peninsula.
We are indebted to parishioner Robert Pimley who undertook to research the history and formation of the parish and acknowledge our dependence on Fr O’ Laverty’s ‘History of the Diocese of Down and Connor’.
If any of the details are inaccurate or if further information can be provided, your contribution would be most welcome.