The ruin of the church or cell of St. Gobnait still stands in Kilgobnet in Mrs. Nora O’Shea’s field – about 100 yards east of the Creamery just at the rear of Jackie Brosnan’s House.
| The ruin as ruins go is in fairly good condition; three walls stand, as they were hundreds of years ago. The fourth is a bit battered but still the whole outlay is very plain. The internal measurements are 35ft. Long and 18ft. Broad with walls 3ft. Thick and 7ft. High and one window and the doorway are to be seen in perfect order, as a matter of fact the cut stone which formed one of the door post is still in position at the Eastern end is a small mound which may have been used as an altar and in some ruins of it’s kind which have been excavated they think those mounds proved to be burial places.Just 100 yards to the west of the church is a lios or fort, half of which is levelled out.
It is known as Lios Gobnait and whether it preceded or succeeded the church is a hard question to answer. About 200 yards to the east of the church was a cillin where young children were buried but alas has disappeared.
St. Gobnait lived in the sixth century and was noted for her love of the poor and for her power of healing both people and animals. She is associated with more than one place in Ireland. There is a tradition that she was to visit several places but should not settle finally until she should find seven deer grazing together.
We are certain at least that there is a “Kilgobnet” in Ballyvourney and there is a “Kilgobnet” in Co. Waterford.
There are many stories about the saint, one is she went to a neighbours house for a spark of coal to light her fire. She took the red coal in her hand and put it into her apron. “There is no fear”, Gobnait said, “It will not burn my apron” as she noticed the astonishment of the woman’s face.
As she set out on the road she met a young man who remarked “What lovely feet you have Gobnait”, she glanced down at her feet and as she did the coal burned through her apron and fell at her feet and quenched. She had committed the sin of pride admiring her lovely feet.
It is most likely that Ballyvourney was the last place she visited and the last church she built and is buried there. On the 11th of February her feast day, hundreds of people collect at the old church ruin beside the village to do various “Rounds”.
Kilgobnet was a very important place in the past and a great fair, The Pattern, was held there on 11th February, St. Gobnait’s Feast Day, on the Fair Green, which is still a commonage. Besides the buying and selling of animals it was also a festival day for all the people of the parish. Hundreds of people gathered there, tents were erected where refreshments etc. were supplied and of course we had the old “shebeen”. The usual games, three – card – tricks, throwing the half hundred, swing boats and the cock – shots, beirt fear in his book “Muintir na Tuatha” remarks that the “Master” my grandfather was a champion shot at the “Magpies”. This incident shows that the 11thof February must have been a general Parish Holiday as otherwise he could not have been there, except it fell on a Saturday or Sunday.
Kilgobnet has caused a certain amount of controversy, first about the spelling of the name – some writers call it Kilgubnet others Kilgobnet, while others call it Kilgubbinet. But the real name is in Irish Cill Ghobnatan and in English Kilgobnet.
Another controversy is as to when the fair began and ended. Its origin is away back in antiquity and like all fairs began as a religious ceremony hundreds of years ago. People came to pray and gradually people began to sell things there and of course amusements followed. As to when the fair ended is also questioned. True it must have ended when the Pattern Fair in Killorglin began. Probably when the railway came to Killorglin.
The Killorglin Fair has the same name “The Pattern” and the same date, 11th February. Killorglin never had a Pattern Fair of it’s own until it stole the Kilgobnet one. The date too is questioned but definitely 11thFebruary is the exact date of the Saint’s Feast as in Ballyvourney.
Some say Lady Blennerhassett, wife of the Landlord started a second Fair there on December 21st, 1836, where only goats and fish were sold. The February Fair was a huge one and pigs to the value of £4,000 were sold there one year.
There were a few “sheebeens” naturally, but the bad faction fights which some say took place is not true. Kilgobnet today is a smaller village but it has a four-teacher school, a Post Office, a Creamery, three shops and several neatly kept private houses and some well kept farms.
Kilgobnet too had its quota of tradesmen. Tom Noonan blacksmith near Kilgobnet school, Danny Breen’s father, Smith near where Cahill’s Shop is, Sheehan Carpenter, opposite Kilgobnet school, Maurice Sweeney, Cooper, Shanacloon Cross. M. Noonan Smith had one near Giddagh Bridge on site of first forge of “Tadhg Gabha”, and finally by Michael Dyke O’Sullivan. The ruin of the forge can still be seen.