#BreakingNews Historic Catholic Church is Destroyed by Fire in West Virginia and Authorities are Investigating

A historic Catholic Church, St. Colman's, was destroyed by fire. It is located in Raleigh County, and is part of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. On 6/26/2022 units from Beaver Volunteer Fire Department were alerted to a structure fire at the Saint Colman Catholic Church on Irish Mountain Road in Shady Spring, WV.
 Upon arrival they found the structure was already burned to the ground and smoldering. At this time the fire is considered suspicious in nature and is being investigated as arson. We were assisted by Ghent VFD, Coal City VFD, Ghent EMS, National Park Service and the WV State Police. Anyone with any information regarding the fire is asked to contact the WV State Police, Trooper D. Daniels at (304) 256-6700, the WV State Fire Marshal’s Arson Hotline at 1 (800) 233-3473 or Crime Stoppers of Raleigh County at 304-255-STOP or www.crimestopperswv.com
The US Department of Homeland Security has warned churches of possible attacks since the overturning of Roe versus Wade on June 24th. See: https://www.catholicnewsworld.com/2022/06/us-churches-on-high-alert-after-pro.html
History of the Parish:
Irish immigrants began moving into southern West Virginia in the early 1850’s, arriving in areas that were, at the time, essentially a wilderness. The first documented arrival to Irish Mountain was Maurice Sullivan from County Kerry, Ireland. Sullivan purchased 435 acres of land from John Qwinn in 1855 to begin the Irish Mountain settlement. Sullivan would be joined on the mountain by Irish families such as the Quinlan’s, McCarthy’s, Nee’s, Dillon’s, Carson’s, and others. The community that was formed by these families was extremely isolated, and so they formed a self-sufficient, distinctive ethnic group. The one aspect of their lives in which they felt a need was for a place of spiritual comfort. The closest Roman Catholic Church was St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Hinton, founded in 1872, which was fifteen miles away and difficult to get to during the late 19th Century. Beginning in 1872, St. Patrick’s Church would send a priest to Irish Mountain once a month for services. 

The community still felt a need for a church and a consecrated burial ground, and so in 1876 Maurice Sullivan sold for one dollar one acre of land atop the mountain to Joseph J. Kane, bishop of Wheeling, for the church and cemetery. By 1878 a small, hewn log church was completed and named after St. Colman, a popular Gaelic-Irish Saint.  St. Colman’s Church never received its own priest and continued to rely on monthly visits from St. Patrick’s Church. The Irish community on the mountain existed into the 20th Century, with an average of fifteen to twenty families living in the area. The church would remain the focal point of the community on Irish Mountain.