The building known as the Methodist Church was built in 1790. It is now known as Atkins Hall and is used as a meeting and function room. The annex to the church houses the Heritage Centre run by Dunmanway Historical Association. The beginning of Methodism in Dunmanway goes back to the year 1783, when Mr Yendall, one of John Wesley’s followers visited Dunmanway. He visited the town once a fortnight and before long he had 30 adherents. One was Mrs Wolfe and another was Mrs Elizabeth Atkins whose hospitable home was always open to the preachers.
From Dunmanway Methodism spread to Bantry, Durrus and Drimoleague. In 1784 a curious incident occurred in Dunmanway. A considerable number had joined Methodism which greatly displeased Sir Richard Cox, 4 th Baronet, the landlord in the town. He threatened to put a stop to Methodism in Dunmanway. In1784 when he heard that Mr Henry Moore was coming to preach in Dunmanway Sir Richard Cox hatched a plot to drown the preacher in the lake. In his fury he fell into the lake himself and was drowned before about 300 residents of the town. There was no further opposition to Methodism in the town. In 1790 a commodious chapel was built and Dunmanway was placed on the Bandon Circuit.
In 1837 the chapel was found to be too small for the congregation. A good site was secured and a new building was erected. Up to 1877 Dunmanway was part of the Bandon Circuit. It had ten classes and 75 members. It was then separated from Bandon with a subsidy of £20 per annum. The Manse was built around the same time as a residence for the Methodist minister and is still used as such. In1911 the church was renovated at a cost of £528. Methodism continued to flourish in Dunmanway during the late 19 th century and early 20 th century.
Since its beginning in Dunmanway the name Atkins has been closely associated with the Methodist congregation. When the congregation decided to close the church in Dunmanway and transfer its services to Ballineen the Atkins family bought the building and carried out extensive renovations to it. It is now used as a meeting and function room with the annex being used as the Heritage Centre. A fascinating feature in the new building is the re-assembly of the original overhead cash transfer system that was used in the Atkins Hardware Store in the Market Square. When we were kids it amazed us as to how it worked.