Ulster American Folk Park

Tullyallen Mass House

Old World, building 13

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Tullyallen Mass House is from Tullyallen, near Dungannon, County Tyrone. It was the place of worship of the parishioners of Killeeshill Parish.

The parish built it in 1768 on land leased from the Earl of Charlemont. He was a well-known liberal Irish landlord. In Cromwell’s time the Penal Laws stopped the building of Roman Catholic churches. The laws were more relaxed 100 years later. These laws did affect the lives of the Catholic and Dissenter population of Ireland as land ownership was almost impossible and they had little political power.

Catholics worshipped at Mass Rocks or had altars in small sheds. Few had a proper Mass House but wealthy parishes could build Mass Houses if the landlord allowed it.

As the century progressed Catholic confidence and prosperity grew. More parishes built Mass Houses throughout the Irish countryside. The population of Ireland grew fast in the late 1700s and 1800s. Killeeshill parish numbers had trebled in size by the 1830s and the congregation extended the building.

The building has been recorded and re-erected here in its pre-1830 form. It has plain sash windows, whitewashed walls and a thatched roof. The priest lived in the annexe at the rear. The presence of the hearth in the west gable points to the buildings use as a school during the week. This practice was occasionally found in mass houses of that early period.

Take a look at the priest’s accommodation it is through the door at the side of the altar. In the early years of the church the priest would have lived here.