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The parish of Bekan (pronounced B-A-C-O-N) is one of the 55 parishes of the Archdiocese of Tuam. It s situated in the county of Mayo, bordered on it’s east side by the town of Ballyhaunis, and on the west side by the Marian Shrine of Knock. It covers an area of 17,135 acres and is roughly rectangular in shape. It has a present day population of approx. 1,200.
The parish was almost certainly established in the wake of the diocesan system introduced to the Irish Church in the 12th century. The origin of the name is uncertain, although there is some evidence to suggest that the name Diseart Béacáin was used in the Archdiocese between the beginning of the 14th and the end of the 15th centuries. It is thought that the name Béacáin derived from Diseart Béacáin and so represents the name of an early Irish holy man who established a hermitage in the parish. The name Béacáin then evolved into the present day name of Bekan.
There are three churches in the parish, namely St. Margaret Mary’s, Bekan; St. Mary’s Logboy and St. Theresa of the Little Flower, Brickens.
St. Margaret Mary’s Church is the principal or parish Church. It is in the townland of Bekan and stands on parochial lands in the centre of the northern half of the parish. It was built in 1934 by the parish prist of the time, a Fr. Charles White, who was his own architect and contractor. Built in concrete, it has a nave, a chancel and aisles. It was renovated and improved by Rev. Thomas McEllin P.P. who came in 1968. The grounds were landscaped and a shrine to Our Lady of Fatima built in the 1980’s by the then P.P., Rev. Edward McEllin.
The predecessor of the present church stood on the south side of the present building and in close proximity to it. This was erected around 1838. An earlier church and predecessor of the last mentioned one stood close to the main road about ¼ of a mile north of the present church. The ruins of an earlier still church stand in Bekan Cemetery. About a mile south of St. Margaret Mary’s Church there is a spot which is believed to have been the place the people assembled in Penal times to hear Mass.
St. Mary’s Church, Logboy was built about 1839 by Rev. Owen Coyne P.P. of Annagh (Ballyhaunis) parish as Logboy was part of Annagh at that time. It is one of the oldest churches of the diocese still in regular use. The plan of this church is a simple oblong without chancel or aisle. It is built of dressed dark limestone procured about half a mile west of the church. A gallery was added in 1884-85 by Rev. James Waldron. The site of Logboy Church at the time of its erection was not at all central for the people of the district . It’s predecessor was at Tulrahan which is more or less the centre of the half-parish. However, the landlord of the time insisted the church be built on it’s present site.
St. Theresa’s Church, Brickens is the third church in the parish. It was built in 1927-28 by Rev. Charles White who was (as later for the main church at Bekan) his own architect and contractor. It was dedicated to St. Theresa of the Little Flower on Sunday, 12th February 1928 by his Grace Dr. Gilmartin, Archbishop of Tuam. The church is situated on the south west side of the parish. Built in concrete, it consists of a chancel and nave with a sacristy attached on the north side. The alter is at the east end. The church was repaired , a heating system installed and the surrounding walks tarmacadammed in the 1960’s An electronic bell was also added at this time.
The present parish priest is Rev. Patrick Mullins, a native of Tuam and has been P.P. since 1999.