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Re-dedication of St Mary’s Church ArdcathThe re-dedication of St. Mary’s Church Ardcath took place on Easter Sunday 4th April 2010 by Bishop Michael Smith. St Mary’s Church is 150 years old and in September 2009 refurbishment Work started. Fr. Phil Gaffney PP of St. Patrick’s Church Ardcath showed great strength and leadership to undertake such an enormous challenge under the present economic climate and challenging times for the Church. A Parish Council comprising of parishioners from Ardcath and Clonalvy was formed to manage and meet the needs of an expanding parish in the 21st Century. One of the first major tasks was the refurbishment of St. Mary’s Church in Ardcath. A Building Committee was formed to assess what needed to be done, bring in the relevant people to carry out the renovation and to oversee and monitor the project.
To appreciate this Building one has to cast one’s mind back to a time when the church was built in 1859, bicycles were the main mode of transport; electricity would not arrive in Ardcath for another hundred years, there was no heating in the church, however there was a fireplace in the Sacristy believed to have been built at a later date. Open turf fires were the only way to heat a house and cooking for a family was carried out over an open fire using a griddle. ladies wore long dresses and bonnets – children went to school in their bare feet as many could not afford shoes, a time far removed from the present day technology of computers, iPods and mobile phones. Bearing this in mind we can only marvel at the sheer challenge facing our forefathers to construct this magnificent Gothic Architectural Building that stands sixty foot tall. The physical strength and manpower needed to lift the stones, timber and slates into place in the absence of any machinery over a period of three years - the time it took to complete this fine stone building that has stood the test of time.
Parishioners owe the construction of the Church to the Langan Brothers, Fr. Tom Langan curate in Ardcath 1826 -68 and Fr. John Langan 1792-1872 parish priest from 1831 -72 during which time the church was constructed at a cost of £2,600. Parishioners funded £1000. Outside subscription £1000 and £600 from the Langan Family, friends and relations. So it is only fitting that plaques remembering both men have been recessed in the wall of the main body of the church during the refurbishment.
There are similarities between the challenges facing the parishioners then and now – parishioners then were struggling to survive the famine as our history tells us that the first report of potato blight came from North County Dublin in July and August 1845. By 1847 the soup kitchens had been set up and Martin Burke in his History of Ardcath tells us that in that year “wheat went to 32 shillings a barrel and beef 73 shillings a hundred weight double what it was”. An average labourers wage in the early 1800’s was 8 pence a day. Many people died during the famine years and the parish numbers fell dramatically, families left Ireland on Famine ships, many didn’t survive the gruelling journey to England or America, and those who did were never to return. Today, thankfully none of our parishioners will starve to death, however, unemployment has hit many families and people are struggling to meet demands of everyday life after the Celtic Tiger. Emigration is evident but thanks to lower air fares and ease of passage many young people will leave our shores again but thankfully they can return when the economy improves.
On a positive note the refurbishment has given employment to a number of local tradesmen, works carried out include the removal of plaster from the inside walls of the church, the removal of the suspended timber ceiling erected in 1937, Both the walls and roof have been insulated and the walls were dry lined and plastered. The Gallery has been extended and a new stairwell erected, The Rose window over the Altar has been repaired, nine of the large panels were removed, re-leaded and storm glazed. This magnificent window believed to be of French origin depicts “The Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary” erected in 1881 by parishioners and friends of the Langan Brothers on the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1882. The Gothic Arches each side of the main Altar have been opened up to their original state. The sanctuary has been re-stencilled, and writing which was uncovered after the removal of the ceiling over the Arch of the nave of the church has been re done.
The sacristy has been refurbished and a toilet added to the Church. The church has been rewired and the plumbing from the 1960’s has been replaced with new radiators and an Industrial Boiler installed. New Light fittings suspend from the magnificent restored rafters, a new PA system has been installed.
On the outside a new ramp meeting health & safety regulations has been constructed, new drainpipes, gutters, kerb stones, tarmacadam, lighting ,and the removal of the cross from the front of the church opens up the space and makes parking more accessible to parishioners. The pier at the front gate has been rebuilt and the railings have been repaired. The original Oregano timber front door has been restored, grained and scumbled. The front of the Church has been power washed and will be floodlit.
The Building Committee Fr. Phil Gaffney, Stephen Corry, Bernie Fox, Thomas White, Leo Collins, Nicholas McGill Brendan Murphy and John Andrews have put in endless hours on a voluntary basis getting this project off the ground, ensuring that parishioners got value for money and top class workmanship. On behalf of the Parish we would like to thank the following. Turlough McKevitt Architect from Drogheda, who drew up the plans, carried out the tendering process and kept his architectural eye on the project from start to finish. Turlough’s indebt ecclesiastical knowledge and his research into the history of St. Mary’s Church which has been dedicated to Our Lady since time immemorial is very evident from the “fleur de lei” on the glass panel of the New Altar to the stencilling on the ceiling of the sanctuary and carried through to the gold leaf pattern on the wall behind the main altar.
John Murphy Q.S. for keeping us within budget, Jim Brunswick for his mechanical and electrical expertise. J.P. Woods Main Building Contractor, Fowlerstown, Stamullen, was awarded the contract following the submission of numerous tenders. His workmanship is second to none and has left no stone unturned on the project we would like to thank him for bringing in so many local tradesmen to work on this project, his son Sean who was project manager on site every day to oversee the project. James Collins Electrical Contractor, Ardcath , Goughs Carpets Ardcath, Artglass Ashbourne who designed and made the Altar Furniture, McNally Joinery, Naul, Floorstyles Drogheda, Gerard Duff Painter & Decorator Ardee Anthony Mohan Drogheda Stencil Work, Enda Hannon Stain Glass, Francis Street, Dublin. Blacktop Tarmacadam, Duleek, John Carolan Tiler, Duleek, O’Reilly Glass Drogheda, Shane Holland, Duleek, Jim Macken Flooring Dunleer, Muldowney Engineering , Jim Tracey Carpentry, Barcall PA systems, and all who worked on the refurbishment of the Church. Thanks also to Betty Tallon and Joan Gough for storage facilities during the refurbishment.
The Baptismal Font from the Medieval Church in the Graveyard dating back to the 13th century was brought up to the present church 150 years ago now stands in the foyer. This is one of the examples in the refurbishment of the church where old and new blend together. It is an octagonal shaped font standing 3ft high and 27” wide, it will stand as a reminder to all who bless themselves with the water from the font of the thousands who have been baptised down through the centuries in our parish with the water from this font. In contrast to this stands the modern contemporary Altar furniture which has been carefully crafted and fused by Mark Jenkinson from Artglass in Ashbourne. Mark and his team have worked on the design for the past number of months and the finished solid Oak Altar which is 2 metres long will have a relic of Saint Oliver placed in it by Bishop Smith on Easter Sunday. The three fused glass panels on the front of the altar depicts the dove descending vertically representing the holy spirit, the centre panel depicts a Cross representing Our Lord and the third is a fleur de lei which represents the dedication of the Church to our Lady. The Oak frame and fused glass panel inserts with gold leaf embellishment is a beautifully crafted piece. It will defiantly be eye catching and yet it’s simple form will blend with the very elaborate and decorative high Altar which will stand majestically in the background. The Ambo displays grapes cascading down a vine representing the wine the blood of Christ and the chair has a cross cut out and fused glass inserted. The new Baptismal Font is a fused glass bowl standing on a three legged Oak frame. The Altar Furniture is a wonderful bespoke hand crafted jewel.
Marble tiles to the front of the Altar with candles on the floor reflecting light onto the glass panels of the Altar and the floor giving the desired kinetic lighting effect. The same theme will be carried around the main body of the church with candles sitting on glass circular discs on the window sills. A new confessional room stands at the rear of the church. An Oak framed glass panel foyer incorporating the original foyer is another example where old and new blend together. A decision was taken at the outset, to keep the rubber tiled centre isle floor covering, as part of the old church. Burmatex carpet floor covering in a Shrewsbury Coral will cover the main body of the church with Amethyst Ulster Carpet on the Sanctuary. The original carpet tiles were refitted in the gallery and sacristy.
The committee kept to the original budget of 500,000 for the refurbishment. Extra costs and spending incurred continues to be sponsored by parishioners and ex parishioners. The Committee would like to thank the parishioners and sponsors for their generosity, without this support none of the refurbishment would be possible. A time capsule will be placed in the main altar of the church on Easter Sunday. This will be opened in sixty years time. Any family who wishes to write a family history and enclose photographs will be asked to donate €50 towards the refurbishment costs. The Refurbishment costs were carried out by obtaining a Bank loan and a Diocesan Loan from Bishop Smith, These will be paid back from the Building fund envelopes and through Fund Raising Events.
From left to right:- Jenny Murtagh, Fr. Phil Gaffney, Brendan Murphy, Sean Woods, John Woods, John Murphy, Stephen Corry, James Collins, Bernie Fox Turlough McKevitt, Jim Brunswick.
Ardcath celebrates reopening of churchThe parish of Ardcath recently celebrated the reopening and rededication of its 150 years-old St Mary's Church, which has undergone a major refurbishment over the past six months.
The Bishop of Meath, Dr Michael Smith, oversaw the rededication ceremony in which members of the parish community took part and a relic of St Oliver Plunkett, as well as a time capsule containing local family histories, were placed in the altar. More ...