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St Joseph’s Church in Carrickmacross marks 150th anniversary

By editor - 07 August, 2016

St Joseph’s Church, Carrickmacross

Celebrations are taking place in Monaghan today to mark the 150th anniversary of the parish church of St Joseph’s in Carrickmacross.

A Mass of thanksgiving is taking place at 6pm this evening led by the Bishop of Clogher, Dr Liam MacDaid, in honour of the one hundred and fifty years of worship and prayer St Joseph’s has held.

The foundation stone of St Joseph’s church, Carrickmacross was laid by Bishop Charles McNally of Clogher on 3 July 1861 and it was dedicated to the service of God on Sunday 22 April 1866 by the then Bishop of Clogher, James Donnelly.

The preacher on that occasion was Dean Michael Kiernan of Dundalk who was later appointed Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All-Ireland (1867-1869).

The church was dedicated under the invocation of St Joseph by special indult from the Holy See.

St Joseph’s replaced another church located nearby, St Mary’s, which was dedicated in 1786 and served as parish church for eighty years.

The parish priest who commissioned the building of St Joseph’s and who led the parish throughout the project was Right Rev James Joseph MacMahon, a native of Aghabog, Co Monaghan, PP of Carrickmacross 1854-1884 and Dean of the Diocese of Clogher 1862-1884.

He had previously been the first principal of Saint Macartan’s College Monaghan from its opening in 1848.

St Joseph’s is described as ‘a noble Gothic structure’ designed by the famous architect of that form, JJ McCarthy (1817-1882).

He was an associate of the renowned English architect Augustus Welby Pugin and a close friend of the Monaghan-born Young Irelander, journalist and politician Charles Gavan Duffy.

Among McCarthy’s many other works of note are St Macartan’s Cathedral, Monaghan, St Patrick’s church, Dungannon, St Patrick’s College Chapel, Maynooth, Holy Cross Church at Clonliffe College, Dublin (his only work in Romanesque design) and the completions of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh and St Brendan’s Cathedral, Killarney.

Artistic features of Saint Joseph’s include some windows by the Harry Clarke studios, one of which, the St Ceara window dating from 1925, was designed and partly created by Harry Clarke himself.

Other Harry Clarke windows depict saints associated with Clogher diocese, Macartan, Tighernach, Fanchea and Enda.

A set of Stations of the Cross by Richard King (1907-1974) were commissioned for St Joseph’s for the Holy Year of 1950.

A history of St Joseph’s, by local historian Larry McDermott, is forthcoming later in August. ‘The Face of Suffering’, a short book of reflections on Richard King’s ‘Stations’ in St Joseph’s first written in 2009, is being updated and a limited number will be available in August to coincide with the  celebrations.

This year 2016 marks the 65th year of the first blessing and hanging of ‘The Stations’ in Saint Josephs.

In addition, a small group of parishioners are working with local photographer Pat Byrne to record the life and history of the Parish on DVD.

This is a very exciting project which will be available for viewing later in the year.  Saint Joseph’s Carrickmacross was designed by JJ McCarthy, the foundation stone was laid by Bishop Charles McNally in July 1861.

The Church is built in sparrow-picked cut limestone by Mr Burnett and dedicated by Bishop James Donnelly in April 1866. The Church was consecrated in 1948 by Eugene O’Callaghan.

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