The Church in Patrick Street
In the 1750's when John Wesley first came to Cork there were boats moored along the open channel that was to become St. Patrick's Street. Between 1800 and 1850 Patrick Street took shape to become the spacious and dignified thoroughfare known today.
Wesley Chapel, opened for worship on 17 April 1805, was among the first of the new buildings and for over 180 years was the major focal point for Cork Methodism.
Worship continued in the church until 1986 when the building was sold in preparation for the development at Ardfallen. The premises are now used as a retail centre.
Over the years work was started in other parts of the city.
On the north side of the city the earliest place of worship was a small chapel at Barracton which was used
primarily for the benefit of military personnel in the nearby Victoria (now Collins) Barracks.
This premises was rebuilt in 1852 and is now a private home still retaining the basic shape of the original chapel.
In 1836 Brother and Sister Gaggin granted to the Methodist Society ground at Blackpool "for the purpose of building a small chapel thereon".
In 1839 a contract was signed for the building of a Wesleyan Alms Houseonground opposite the Henry Street (Hammond's Marsh) Chapel obtained from Lord Donoghmore.
Due to an increasing congregation, a new Methodist Church, including a hall and schoolrooms, was built and opened in 1895 on Military Road. This building continued in use until 1949 when it was sold to the Roman Catholic Church and is now the Holy Family Church - part of St. Patrick's parish.
A friendly relationship still continues between the Methodist and Holy Family congregations.
Early days of Methodism in Cork
1748 June 2 - the first record of Methodist preaching in Cork when Thomas Williams and Robert Swindells conducted a first preaching 'round' in Cork.
1748 Aug 20 - Charles Wesley arrived in Cork.
1748 Aug 21 - Charles Wesley went to Hammond's March (near the present Mercy Hospital) at 5am and found a congregation of some thousand persons. Later that day, at 5pm, "he took to the field again" and preached to a congregation "computed to be 10,000."
1748 Aug 26 - Charles Wesley had dinner with Dr. J. Browne, Bishop of Cork, at Riverstown and "was received with great affability by himself and his family. Afterdinner he travelled back to Cork and drank tea with some well disposed Quakers."
1748 Aug 28 - Charles Wesley preached at Marmullane Parish church at the invitation of Rev. E. Cotrell.
1749 - "Anti-Methodist" riots in Cork. John Wesley, arriving on June 5, was advised not to stop in Cork because of the rioting and instead met members of the society in Blarney, 6km to the NW of Cork.
1751 June - George Whitfield visited Cork and preached 7 or 8 times "to a great body of people in all quietness".
1752 - Wesley Chapel, Hammond's March was built, the second Methodist preaching house in Ireland.
1756 May 12 - John Wesley arrived in Cork and preached in the new Chapel.
1787 - John Wesley was received by the Lord Mayor at the Mansion House (now the Mercy Hospital).
1789 - John Wesley, aged 84, visited Cork for the last time and administered the Sacrament to 450 communicants.
1797 - Thomas Stepford, Bishop of Cork, granted the use of the Huguenot French Church to the Methodists. By 1804 they found it too small and decided to build on the newly reclaimed St. Patrick's Street.
In 1818 there was a division in the Methodist community in Ireland which lasted until the two groups reunited following Church Disestablishment. The smaller of the two groups called themselves "The Primitive Wesleyan Methodist Connexion". They wished to remain loyal members of the Established Church and followed as they argued the "primitive" order of John Wesley in keeping their chapels as preaching houses. As aresult they did not themselves administer the sacraments nor hold worship services during 'church hours'. This group in Cork obtained the use of the French Church and in 1841, as the building was too small, it was demoloshed and a larger church built on the site. The 'Wesleyan' and 'Primitive Wesleyan' Methodists reunited in 1878, with worship in the French Church premises continuing until 1897.