St Patrick’s Church was built by Fr James Doheny who was parish priest in Dunmanway at the time.Work began on the building in 1831 or 1832 and was completed in 1848.It was built in a period of great activity in Church building in Ireland immediately after Catholic emancipation.The present day church was built on the site of the first Catholic church in Dunmanway.The origin of the first church goes back to 1793 when Sir John Cox , Baronet and local landlord donated the site to Fr Bartholomew Coghlan.Up till then the Catholics were using an old thatched cabin or Mass house on the roadside on the western side of the Longbridge near the town.Sir John Cox offered the site rent free and donated £20 towards the building of the new chapel.
When Fr James Doheny was appointed Parish Priest in Dunmanway in 1818 he wasted no time in building three churches in Dunmanway. Work started in building St Joseph’s in Ballinacarriga in 1819, and St James the Less Church in Togher was commenced in 1827. In 1831 or 1832 the building of St Patrick’s Church in Dunmanway commenced. The new church being much bigger was built around the old chapel. The church was designed by Brother Michael Augustine Riordan, who trained as an architect before becoming a Presentation Brother. It is designed in the Neo-Classical style proclaiming the new confidence of the Catholic Church at the time. It is similar to St John the Baptist Church in Kinsale and St Patrick’s Cathedral in Skibbereen. The foundation stone was laid on 14th May 1832 and special collections were held nearly every Sunday. Fr Doheny kept a very detailed account of all the monies he collected for the building of the church – an account which is still intact and from which we get nearly all our information on the building of the church at the time. Fr Doheny kept a detailed record of all income and expenditure demonstrating his attention to detail in his administration of the parish accounts. Most of the stone used in building the walls of the church came from a quarry at the Spa Road quite close to the church. Stone was also quarried in Ardcahan and Dirreens. The cut stone for the front facade was brought by horse and cart from Aherla. When the roof was completed and the altar in place the old church was demolished and the new church was ready for Mass on the following Sunday. This occurred in May 1839. The present-day altars were fitted by Peter Jackman of Cork replacing the earlier timber structures. The marble altars originated from McBride Studios, Pietrasanta, Italy, and were selected architectural statuary white Italian Carrara marble. The front facade is most striking with its ashlar-cut limestone embellished with its high pediment above the central breakfront, topped with an open bell-cote. The tall stone urns at either end add a balance to the facade. The two rectangular statue recesses are intended to enhance the symmetry. The tall round-headed windows are a feature of the building. The stained glass on some of the windows was added in the 1960s. Inside, the building is a beautiful example of classical elegance with its T-shaped plan, its nave and transepts and galleries. The Neo-Classical style is crowned by the high panelled ceiling and the ornate reredos of Corinthian columns behind the altar dais.