The old Church at Durrus East, Moulivard was probably built around the 14th or early 15th century, contemporaneous with the ruined church in Kilcrohane graveyard. Inside the adjoining graveyard is an incised cross dating from the early Christian period.
This was found by Jeremiah Hurley, d. 1933, while ploughing their farm near the creamery and then placed in the Church grounds. Another cross of this type is in Cape Clear and may denote an old monastic settlement. There had been a monastic settlement at Scartbawn under the patronage of the MacCarthy (Teig Rua Sept) who had a castle in the area at Scart on the present Bantry Cork road. This moved to Moulivard to take advantage of the water power of Four Mile Water and the mill race is still visible in Ballinvillen (townland of the mill). Moulivard Church was in good repair in 1639 and in use mid-17th century but according to Maziere Brady (historian of the Diocese of Cork) was in ruins by 1699. It is said that the White Friars are associated with the site but there is no corroboration of this. There is a local tradition that the church was used in Penal times, when Mass was celebrated from time to time by itinerant friars. On St John’s Eve (23rd June) an open air mass is celebrated each year. The stone table used otherwise for coffins is used and in the course of the mass parishioners call out the names of family members buried in the graveyard for prayers. In the 1730s the Franciscans had a limited presence in West Cork the location of their former monasteries.
Rev. Denis Barnane P.P. 1790-1818, from Dunmanway, died 28 June 1834, buried Moulivard, devotion to him continues to this day. Two other priests who were in College with him, Father John Power d.1831 of the Dioceses of Ross reputedly had supernatural powers having a ‘solus’ light and Father Holland. Extracts from the Statutes of the Diocese of Cork show that he was absent from the Diocesan Synod – 09/07/1817, during the Episcopacy of Bishop John Murphy, 1815 – 1847.
Fr. Barnane was credited with curative powers and also had the gift of healing animals. When he was reprimanded by Bishop John Murphy for publicly exercising these powers his reply was; “I’m dying, I’m in bad health, and when I’m dead, I’ll cure the same as I do now.”
Every year on the 28th June, St. John’s Night – anniversary of his death, the graveyard (Maulaward) would be full of people bringing their complaints, all in search of a cure. People even came from as far away as Cork City. The church is still visited on St John’s Night by people from all faiths. It is believed that he had a fondness for the drink and was silenced by the Church.