A short history of St. Kevin's Church in Hollywood.

Traditionally the starting point for the Camino de Glendalough, which follows the popular medieval pilgrimage route, St. Kevin’s Way, Hollywood village’s location at the beginning of St. Kevin’s road, a main route to the King’s River valley and Glendalough, has seen many pilgrims receive a blessing at St. Kevin’s Church of Ireland before following in St. Kevin’s footsteps to Glendalough.

St. Kevin’s Church of Ireland church dates from the late seventeenth century. A detached two-bay single-story gable-ended building, it has a simple rectangular shape, to which two lean-to porches were later added to the south and west. The low survival rate of churches dating from the seventeenth century, and specifically those which are intact and retain much of the original structure, makes St. Kevin’s Church of Ireland church in Hollywood is ‘one of the most noteworthy churches’ in Ireland.

While folklore highlights St. Kevin’s links with Hollywood, suggesting he spent time in the area before travelling to Glendalough, surviving documents, such as a charter dating from 1192 which granted lands in the area to the de Marisco family, also supports this claim. The name ‘Bosco Sancto’ often features in these sources, while a document from the sixteenth century uses the term ‘Cillín Caoimhín’. It is therefore possible that a small church may have existed at Hollywood in the early medieval period, although the earliest surviving reference to a church in Hollywood is recorded in a thirteenth-century charter. While no evidence as to the location of the church has been discovered, it is possible that the site of that church is where the seventeenth-century St. Kevin’s Church of Ireland church is situated. Indeed, the discovery of five medieval grave slabs dating from the thirteenth or fourteenth centuries in the graveyard at St. Kevin’s, Hollywood, provide evidence of ecclesiastical activity in the village at that site.

Dr. Emma Lyons