Irish Mountain, located above the New River in Raleigh County at elevation 2,691 feet, was named for the Irish immigrants who settled, farmed, and populated it. The first arrival was Maurice Sullivan from County Kerry, who purchased 435 acres from John Gwinn in 1855. The next year, John Quinlan from County Clare also bought land from Gwinn. During the 1860s, McCarthys, Nees, Dillons, Carsons, and Simon O’Connor settled on the mountain.
In 1876, Maurice Sullivan sold for one dollar an acre of land atop the mountain to J. J. Kane, bishop of Wheeling, for a church and cemetery. By 1878, the Irish had cleared the land and built a small log church, 18 by 30 feet, with three windows on either side and a double-door entry with a cross above. They made the family pews, altar, and other furnishings which are still there today. The church, named for St. Colman, a popular saint in western Ireland, was the first Roman Catholic church in Raleigh County. It was a mission church of St. Patrick’s in Hinton, whose pastors held monthly Sunday services at St. Colman.
The 1880 census listed eight Irish families of 43 persons occupying the mountain. In 1910, there were 17 families and 82 persons listed. After that, the exodus off the mountain began, but the population in the cemetery grew. In 2002, few, if any, descendants of the settlers lived on the mountain, though some retained their ancestral lands. The cemetery and church, its original logs covered with boards and painted white, are still maintained. St. Colman Church and cemetery were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.
There is another Irish Mountain, elevation 3,320 feet, associated with the Irish Tract settlement in Greenbrier, Summers, and Fayette counties.
This Article was written by Lois C. McLean
Wood, Jim. Raleigh County. Beckley: J. Wood, 1994.
Brown, Leona G. Recalling an Irish Mountain Family. Goldenseal, (Spring 1991).
McLean, Lois C. Irish Mountain. Goldenseal, (Spring 1991).