St. Fintan's Church, Taghmon 1869 - 1971


RITA CURTIS

Ecce Tabernaculum Dei cum hominibus
(Behold the dwelling place of God with mankind)

This is the inscription on the mosaic over the main arch in the sanctuary of St. Fintan's Church, Taghmon.

By accepting the Ten Commandments the Israelites made a covenant/agreement with God;

If you obey my voice and hold fast to my covenant, you shall be my very own. Tell the Sons of Israel to set aside a contribution for me. Build me a Sanctuary so that I may dwell among them.
Exodus [19, 5: 25,1-2, 8-9]

The two tablets of stone on which the Commandments were recorded were placed in a wooden coffer - a box for holding valuables - which was called the Ark of the Covenant. The Israelites carried the Ark in the Tabernacle, a portable curtained tent. It served as a Sanctuary until the building of the Temple in Jerusalem. There it was placed in the position of honour.

ST MUNN

St. Munn, also known as Fintan Munnu, the son of Tulcanus and Fidelma, was brought up as a Christian, in the North of Ireland. He presented himself as a candidate for admission, as a disciple, into the community of St. Columba/Columcille on the island of Hy, also known as Iona. Columba had died before Munn arrived. His successor told Munn, that it was Columba's wish, that Munn return to Ireland - and had prophesied that he would 'be the leader of a great people there'.

On his arrival in Ireland, Munn travelled southward. 'He came to a rich and sloping plain. Here he rested. Pleased with the situation and finding a gentle and docile people, he erected a humble tabernacle to God's glory' Later he built a monastery in the vicinity, Teach Munna - the House of Munn - known to-day as Taghmon.

Ever since the end of the sixth century the people of Taghmon have endeavoured to have a dwelling for God to live among them. The present Church of St. Fintan is a worthy testimony to their faith, fidelity and generosity.

ST. FINTAN'S CHURCH 1869 - 1971

There are three main events in the development of the Church, spanning a century.
  1. The building of the Church - organised by Rev. William Murphy P.P. (1866-1896)
  2. The improvement and beautification projects during the administration of Rev. Thomas Scallan P.P. (1925 - 1956)
  3. The renovations and alterations undertaken on the occasion of the centenary of the Church by Rev. James Murphy P.P. (1966-1972).

THE LAYING OF THE FOUNDATION STONE

'On May 9, 1869, the foundation stone of the new church of Our Lady and St. Munn, was solemnly blessed by Bishop Thomas Furlong, and laid, with the prescribed ceremonies, in the north eastern angle of the building. Though the morning was heavy the attendance was large, and all seemed to be impressed with the importance of the occasion.

His Lordship complimented the people of the parish on the contributions they had already made towards the erection of their new Church, and felt satisfied, they would continue to co-operate with their Pastor in what they had so liberally begun....In the conclusion of his Lordship's address, he paid a marked compliment to the architects and also the contractor and assured the people they might rely on them for the satisfactory execution of the work in hand.

Having blessed the spot marked out by a wooden cross, as the site of the future altar, he proceeded to bless the foundation stone, in which a zinc box, containing the date, name and coins, usual on such occasions, had been inserted, and finally he blessed the foundations themselves, after which an Indulgence of Forty Days was announced, as imparted by His Lordship to all present at the ceremony. Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament closed the functions of this interesting day'.

PENAL LAWS

The Penal Laws, which had deprived Catholics of civil and religious rights were recent history.

'On March 10, 1744, William Hore, Portreeve of Taghmon, (an agent who collected rent for a landlord) reported Fr. Patrick Redmond as a "Popish clergyman in the Mass-house of Taghmon, residing at the house of his brother, James Redmond of Harveystown". Hore locked up the Mass-house and "allowed" as he writes, "no admittance into it, in the shape of the popish (or any other) worship'.

The Irish referred to the community as 'an pobal' and to their place of worship as 'teach pobail' (people's house) or 'teach De' (God's house).

BARN CHURCHES

From the mid 18th century onwards the Penal Laws were relaxed and Catholics began to build churches or chapels, as they were called. These were basic in design and construction. They had no spires or towers, just a small belfry at the gable end. Built of local stone, covered with lime plaster, they had clay tiled floors and plain windows. Many had thatched roofs and, being like barns, are often described as 'barn churches'. In these modest buildings Catholics practised their religion quietly and unobtrusively.

In the diocese of Ferns, during the 1798 Rebellion, thirty four of these 'chapels' were burned or destroyed. The parish of Taghmon escaped.

In 1831, Samuel Lewis writing in his Topographical Dictionary describes Taghmon; 'the church is a small but handsome edifice with a square embattled tower: the chapel is a spacious and handsome edifice, partly concealed by some fine beech trees; there are chapels also at Trinity and Caroreigh, and at Forest, about a mile from the town is a place of worship for the Society of Friends'.

CATHOLIC EMANCIPATION: AUGUSTUS WELBY PUGIN

In 1829, due to Daniel O'Connell's relentless campaign, an act granting Catholic Emancipation was passed. This coincided with the arrival in Wexford of Augustus Welby Pugin, a convert to Catholicism, who was 'art architect' of the Houses of Parliament, Westminster, and a renowned church architect. His patron, the wealthy Catholic Earl of Shrewsbury, was connected by marriage to the Talbot family of Castle Talbot, Blackwater. They introduced Pugin to the diocese of Ferns.

He came to an Ireland which was experiencing an upsurge in Church building. There was a spirit of triumphalism - grandeur could now displace discretion. Pugin introduced the Gothic Revival style and developed a close professional relationship with Richard Pierce, who became his principal associate in ensuring the successful execution of his designs.

REV. JOHN SCALLAN (1815 - 1849)

Rev. John Scallan was Parish Priest of Taghmon from 1815-1849. During his pastorship two new churches were built in the parish, Trinity in 1838 and Caroreigh in 1843. Before Fr. Scallan could turn his attention to the church in Taghmon the Famine 1845-1850 intervened. Taghmon was not spared.

CHOLERA

'In 1849, Taghmon, then a thriving little town of 1500 inhabitants, was visited by a dreaded disease that claimed almost 300 of its residents. Cholera, at that period, was prevalent throughout the land and levied a heavy toll on human life. During the terrible visitation, the two priests of Taghmon, Father John Scallan, P.P. and Father Peter Warren, C.C. were constantly engaged in ministering to the sick and dying.

The strain of duty and daily scenes of death and misery, told upon their weakened conditions. Fr. Scallan was the first to fall a victim, passing away on May 1 1849, aged 71. Fr. Warren survived him a few months. He died on September 3, 1849, aged 36. The parishioners were deeply grieved by the deaths of their two beloved priests.' Two monuments to their memory were erected in the old chapel. At the time the old church was demolished these were taken down and not reinstalled in the new church. The old tablets can be seen on the boundary wall at the back of the Church and there is a new tablet in their memory in the present church.

FAMINE

The famine brought distress and poverty. Catholics had been relying on voluntary contributions for their building projects. These ceased almost entirely and building came to a halt. Those who could afford to give, diverted their donations to the relief of the hungry and bereaved.

REV. LOFTUS BRENNAN P.P. (1849 - 1866)

Rev. Loftus Brennan, a native of Forest, was Parish Priest from 1849 - 1866 and 'laboured' in a sad and grieving community.

REV. WILLIAM MURPHY P.P. (1866-1896)

In 1866, Rev. William Murphy transferred to Taghmon from Crossabeg where he had been Parish Priest.

From 1840 - 1860 he was a curate in Enniscorthy during the building of the splendid Cathedral, designed by A. W. Pugin. He was a good organiser and had an interest in church architecture.

On his arrival in Taghmon, he set about planning the building of a new church and 'finding the money'. Some money towards the project had been collected in his later years by Fr. Brennan. A committee was formed.

No site could compare with the one on which the existing church stood, so it was decided to build the new church there. It is generally believed, that the old church was kept in use while the new church grew around it. Even though A.W. Pugin had died in 1852 , aged 40, and Richard Pierce in 1854 , aged 53, this church would be in Pugin Gothic Revival style.

In 1863, Bonaventure Pierce, Richard's younger brother, had built Lady's Island Church, designed by Pugin's son, Edward Pugin, together with his associate, Ashlin, architects. He was awarded the contract to build the new church in Taghmon.

Those involved in raising the necessary funds and planning the building project, were supported by the parishioners. A church is not just stones, slates, glass and marble. It is a symbol of the parochial pilgrimage of the people of God. St. Fintan's was built by faith, skill, intelligence and sweat. It was paid for by the pounds of the well to do, the shillings of the working class and the pennies of the poor, who provided a dwelling for God in a God-centred community.

By 1869 the work had begun and on May 9 the foundation stone was in place and blessed.

BOND

A Bond was drawn up by Peter J. O'Flaherty, Solicitors, Dublin, Enniscorthy and Wexford. It is too long to reproduce here. The following is a simplified version.

Bond: Bonaventure Pierce of Summerseat, Builder, Jasper William Walsh of the Castle, Wexford, Merchant, and Patrick Clancy of College, Barntown, Farmer, all in the County of Wexford, entered into a building contract with the Reverend William Murphy, Roman Catholic Parish Priest, and eight others, Stephen Prendergast and Joseph Cullimore, Shopkeepers of Taghmon, Richard Roche and Matthew Parle, both of Poulmarle, Thomas Walsh of Coolcull, Edmond Fortune of Brownscastle, Patrick Ryan of Mulmintra, and Martin Whitty of Coolategurth, all in the County of Wexford, Farmers, to do the whole of the works in removing the existing Roman Catholic Church at Taghmon, and to erect and completely finish the building of an intended new Church.

It was agreed that Bonaventure Pierce (spelt Pierse) would be paid 2000 for the works, which were to be completed in a specified time, in accordance with the building contract and document, called the 'Specification Of Works', and in a good and workmanlike manner. Bonaventure Pierce and two sureties, Jasper William Walsh and Patrick Clancy agreed, at the time Bonaventure Pierce was awarded the building contract, that they would enter into a Bond or Obligation in respect of the proper performance of the building works.

On June 3, 1869, they executed the Bond. Under the Bond they each agreed with Rev. W. Murphy and the eight other parties to the building contract with Bonaventure Pierce, that they would jointly and separately (as would their heirs) be liable to pay Rev. Wm. Murphy and the eight others 500, if the builder did not complete the building works in good time, in conformity with the 'Specification of Works' and in a good and workmanlike manner.

On June 3, 1869, The Bond was signed, sealed and delivered in the presence of James Bolger by Bonaventure Pierce and Patrick Clancy, and by Jasper William Walsh in the presence of Patrick J Gaffney.

BUILDING THE CHURCH

The church was built from designs presented by Martin Farrell, C.E., Strandfield, Wexford.

Bonaventure Pierce was in charge of the entire project. A master mason was responsible for laying the foundation stones and erecting the walls. The church, apart from the granite corbels (supports), quoins (corner stones serving to form angles) and door and window surrounds, was built of local stone, a mixture of Cambrian Quartzite and Cambrian Siltstone, most likely from the Quarry at Knockarone. The granite probably came by sea from Wicklow to Wexford Harbour.

The stone was ferried to the site by horse and cart, the only available transport at that time. Ms. Kit Rossiter, Market Square, Taghmon, late of Slevoy, remembers her father and grandfather speaking about this.

When the foundations were laid and the walls at roof level, the other master craftsmen - carpenters, stone cutters, glaziers , tilers - moved in. The work was done by axe and chisel, saw and adze, rope and pulley. Unskilled labourers did most of the heavy work. Like a mighty jig-saw, the vision of the architect became a concrete reality. There was keen interest and intense observation of progress by Fr. Murphy, the committee and the parishioners.

DEDICATION OF THE NEW CHURCH, TAGHMON

'On Sunday, September 8, 1872, a devout and happy congregation thronged the new Church of Taghmon, to witness and participate in the grand and impressive ceremony of the dedication of their beautiful church. We must say that they had great reason to be proud and happy as this grand and enduring testimony of their piety and large heartedness was about to be dedicated, under the patronage of the Sainted Fintan Munnu.'

On the occasion of the laying of the foundation stone the intention seems to have been, to call the new church 'the church of Our Lady and St. Munn'. From the time of the dedication, when it was placed under the patronage of the 'Sainted Fintan Munn', the church has been known as 'St. Fintan's'.

The church was solemnly dedicated by the Bishop of Ferns, Dr. Furlong.

'The usual prayers, prescribed by the Roman Ritual for the solemn dedication of a Church, having been read by his Lordship, in front of the Church, the procession moved round the Church, his Lordship sprinkling the walls with Holy Water, and the priests in attendance chanting appropriate Psalms.

His Lordship then made a circuit of the interior of the Church, sprinkling the walls, while the prescribed Psalms were being chanted by the clergy. All of them moved up through the Church to the Sanctuary where the Litany of the Saints was sung at the High Altar, and immediately commenced the Solemn High Mass, 'Coram Episcopo'.

The celebrant of the High Mass was Rev. Loughlan Druhan, C.C. Caroreigh, deacon, Rev. John Parker, C.C. Barntown, sub-deacon, Rev. James Ryan, C.C. Wexford; master of ceremonies, Rev. John Kehoe, O.S.A. The deacons at the throne were Rev. P. Crane, Prior O.S.A., Grantstown and Rev. Walter Barry C.C. Enniscorthy. There were also in the Sanctuary - Rev. William Murphy P.P. Taghmon, Rev, Thomas Roche P.P. Lady's Island, Rev. P. Neville, P.P. Newbawn and Rev. John Doyle, C.C. Taghmon.

The music of the High Mass was sung by the choir of Wexford Parochial Churches. Mr. Patrick J.Breen, Professor of Music at St. Peter's College, presided at the harmonium, a fine rich toned instrument from Anglim's Music Saloon, Anne Street, Wexford. Previous to the commencement of the ceremonies the choir sang Handel's sublime piece, 'Marvellous Works'.

Immediately after the first Gospel, Rev. M. Kavanagh, St Peter's College, ascended the pulpit and delivered an excellent discourse'.

Described as a very promising young preacher, Fr. Kavanagh gave 'an appropriate sermon with many beautiful and eloquent passages, which was listened to by a vast congregation with breathless attention for at least three quarters of an hour. The benediction and blessing were given by Dr. Furlong.

During the Mass a rich selection of music from the works of Mozart and Von Webber was sung by the choir, the solo parts being given with good effect by Miss Ellen T. Holbrook.

In the evening pontifical vespers was given, the choir again taking part. This concluded the ceremonies of the day.'

On the site of the old church stood a sturdy, compact, elegant neo- Gothic Church in Pugin style. It was fully aisled with a lofty vaulted roof over the nave, and sloping roofs over the two side aisles. Two rows of granite pillars supported pointed arches which separated the nave from the aisles. They looked as if they were stretching to and pointing towards Heaven. The arches in the Sanctuary, windows and doors completed the Gothic picture. There were two side altars as well as the main altar.

The Church had seating for four hundred people. A spiral staircase to the right of the main door led to the organ gallery. The Baptistry was to the left of the main door. There was no tapering spire, but the octagonal tower, with its clock, was distinctive and memorable.

'Above me smokes the little town,
With its whitewashed walls and roofs of brown
And its octagon spire toned smoothly down
As the holy minds within'.

Behind the closed eye - Francis Ledwidge.

In the following years the Church was furnished and embellished. A beautiful Sanctuary lamp was placed in the Sanctuary and vestments and sacred vessels were acquired. An organ was installed on the organ gallery and Stations of the Cross were donated.

The names of deceased members of the donors' families are inscribed on plaques under each station.

  1. John Hanlon
  2. Ml. & Mgt. Stafford
  3. Deceased friends of John & Eliza Ryan
  4. Matthew and Esther Parle
  5. Mary Murphy
  6. Mary Whitmore
  7. Patrick Bogan
  8. Barth. Brennan
  9. John Brown
  10. Mary Brown
  11. Jas.& Cath. Cullen
  12. Alice Ryan
  13. John & Mary Fane
  14. Matthew A Whelan

The names of others are forgotten, but are known to God.

Rev. Wm Murphy, later Dean and Vicar General of the diocese died on May 28, 1896 in his 88th year and is interred in the church. There is a marble plaque in his memory on the wall nearby.
'Behold a great priest who in his days pleased God and was found just: Ecclesiasticus 4.4.C.'

Bonaventure Pierce died on August 27, 1910 aged 82. He is interred in an unmarked grave (no. 9) in Crosstown Cemetery, Wexford. Lady's Island Church and St. Fintan's Taghmon are his memory stones -'si monumentum requiris, circumspice' (if you need a monument look around).

There is no available record of Martin Farrell.

MOSAICS - REV. WILLIAM FORTUNE P.P.(1914 - 1925)

Canon Fortune organised the setting of the beautiful mosaics in the sanctuary, of which the parishioners are both fond and proud. Entry under Expenses in the Parish Account Book of 1923 - 'Cartage of mosaics and cement from Wexford 3 - 2 - 8' and in 1924, 'Messrs. Oppenheimer, First Instalment 500'.

L. Oppenheimer Ltd., Blackburn Street, Old Trafford, Manchester, were 'artists in mosaics for church decoration', and advertised in the 'Irish Catholic Directory'.

On June 28-29, 1925, a monster bazaar was held in Taghmon to raise funds for parochial purposes, mainly the mosaic setting. Preparations for the bazaar took months of intense parochial involvement which ensured that it was a financial and social success. Taghmon Fife and Drum Band provided music and there were football matches on both days. A short time before his death from pneumonia, on October 30, 1925, Canon Fortune had the sanctuary ''adorned with beautiful mosaics', though sadly, he did not live to complete the project.

REV. THOMAS SCALLAN P.P. (1925 - 1956)

Fr. Scallan was appointed Parish Priest of Taghmon in 1925 on the death of Canon Fortune. During his administration he developed and beautified the Church.

The walls around the Sanctuary were finished in mosaic, the floor artistically tiled and the wooden rails were replaced by a marble structure.

Two statues of Our Lady were erected, one on the lawn and one which adorns the alcove over the entrance. A mortuary chapel was built. A special plot with a Calvary, was provided for the burial of priests. St. Fintan's new cemetery was consecrated on Low Sunday (the Sunday after Easter Sunday) in 1938.

CHARITY SERMON

On March 11, 1934 there was a Charity sermon. The preacher was Rev. Fr. Colga O'Dea O.F.M. and there was a large congregation. Fr. O'Dea spoke of the Passion and Death of Christ.

'At the conclusion, he made reference to the beautiful church and the great improvements for which their beloved pastor had been responsible. He knew that the parishioners appreciated what had been done, but more than heartfelt appreciation was necessary to assist Fr. Scallan in bringing to a close the noble work he had begun'.

STAINED GLASS WINDOWS:

A major undertaking in 1934 was the installation of stained glass windows in the nave of the church which were made and installed by the famous Harry Clarke Studios and are excellent works of art.

HARRY CLARKE (1889 - 1931)

Harry Clarke, a prolific artist of outstanding originality, was probably 'the greatest stained glass artist that this country ever produced'. His best known work is in the Honan Chapel, U.C.C.

In glass, he achieved 'a jewel like twinkle and depth of colour by using many small pieces, and deep, mainly red and blue colours'. He died at the age of 42, but the Harry Clarke style was faithfully continued by the Studios until their closure in 1973.

The windows in the nave of St. Fintan's Church bear testimony to his talent and to the fidelity of the Studios to his special style.

The magnificent windows in the Sanctuary and one in the present porch, in memory of Mary Ann Kavanagh, are completely different in colour, form and style. They belong to an earlier period. Gregory Walsh donated the window of St. Fintan in memory of his parents. His father, a widower, died in 1894, and he died in 1913. The windows must date from the intervening period.

The Abbey Stained Glass Studios, through the good offices of director, Ken Ryan, has supplied a copy of the original order for the Clarke windows. (see box)

CHURCH IMPROVEMENTS:

'Taghmon Parish Church is having a full set of stained glass windows fitted, and the artistic beauty of the new windows is exciting the admiration of every member of the congregation, who are very appreciative of the improvements carried out by Rev. T Scallan, who is making the church not only a credit to the parish, but to the diocese'.

Sacred Heart and St. Mary windows are not in the church. In addition to those named in the orders are windows of St. Patrick, St Ita, St. Aidan and St Laurence O'Toole in the nave and St. Cecilia and St. Columba on the organ gallery.

St. Fintan's Church in the 1930's

DONORS

The donors are remembered by inscriptions, invoking prayers for the living or for deceased relatives.

Sanctuary

St. Brigid John and Ellen Rossiter
Our Lady Refuge of Sinners Edmond & Joanna Fortune
St. Aidan Gregory Walsh.

Nave:

St. Patrick James and Annie Keating
St. Ita Thomas and Dora Egan
St. Luke, Evangelist Matthew Quigley, Old Boley
St. Matthew, Evangelist O'Brien Family, Ardinagh
Holy Family Frances Mary Williams, Taghmon
St. Aidan Matthew and Margaret Kavanagh
St. Laurence O'Toole Richard Neville
St. Mark, Evangelist Denis O'Brien, Ardinagh
St. John, Evangelist John Scallan Old Boley.
St. Teresa, The Little Flower Cait Ni Riain, Bean Sheain T. Ui'Cheallaigh

Gallery

St. Cecilia
St. Columba

Porch

St. Anthony Thomas Francis Bennett
Jesus and the children Mary Ann Kavanagh

John Milton, the poet, aptly described stained glass windows as 'storied windows'. 'Rich in colour and mellow in light', they tell the story of Christianity and illuminate the lives of those who accepted Christ's invitation, 'Follow me'.

Canon Scallan, a good and faithful disciple, died in 1956, and is interred in the priests' cemetery beside the church he had helped to beautify. President Sean T. O'Ceallaigh, a personal friend, was represented at the funeral by A.D.C. Colonel M. Heffernan.

Thanks to Canon Scallan's zeal and endeavours, Taghmon Church is one of the most beautiful in the diocese.
Order Book 2: Pg. 114 September 17, 1934
Order No. 1822
Place: Taghmon, Co. Wexford
For: Very Rev. T. Scallan P.P.
Order: To make, supply and fit 6 nave windows lead lights with medallions, 4 Evangelists, Holy Family, St. Teresa, also 2 windows, Sacred Heart and St. Mary, 1 window St Anthony as per estimate. 11/8/1934 100.
Order Book 2 Pg 117 November 9, 1934
Order No. 1827
Order: To make supply and fix two light and tracery leaded windows, 30 circles and 20 cusps, clerestory 100
4 ventilators @ 3-17-6 each 15
Order Book 2 Pg 122 December 13, 1934
Order No. 1842
Order: To make and fix 4 nave windows to match existing ones as estimate 11/12/1934. 45
(1 in 1934 = 42 in 1995 - Central Statistics Office)

REV. JAMES MURPHY P.P. (1966-1972)

In 1966, Rev James Murphy, curate of Caroreigh for 19 years, was appointed Parish priest of Taghmon. The Second Vatican Council, convened by Pope John XX111 in Rome, (1962-1965), was a major milestone in the history of the Church and had a profound influence on church architecture.

The Council's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy allowed a series of liturgical reforms, which were gradually introduced in the church. For example the vernacular replaced Latin in the Liturgy, the priest faced the congregation at Mass and the laity become more actively involved in Eucharistic and Sacramental celebrations. These reforms necessitated modifications to church design, particularly with regard to the layout of the Sanctuary.

Dr. Donal Herlihy was appointed Bishop of Ferns in 1964. He was ordained in Rome in 1931 and had been Vice Rector of the Irish College and subsequently Rector 1947-1964. He arrived in a diocese where the majority of churches had been built shortly after Catholic Emancipation. They were cold, damp, musty and in need of repair. St. Fintan's Taghmon, on the eve of its centenary, was no exception. The parochial house also needed re-roofing and extension.

Bishop Herlihy, fresh from Rome and imbued with the spirit of Vatican Two, endeavoured, by encouragement and support, to have the churches restored and Vatican Two principles implemented. Fr. James Murphy and the people of Taghmon again rose to the occasion. The task ahead was formidable. The firm of Lennon, Meehan and Levins, Wexford, was chosen as architects and Richard Browne, Wexford, as contractor.

In 1968 the work began on the Church and parochial house. Fr. Murphy moved into the curate's house in Forest. He was a meticulous person and there are precise records of the plans, the progress and costs - the contract sum being 20,233-15-6 and agreed extras 4,572- 18-8. A donor subscribed 200 for the new Tabernacle, so 24,600 had to be raised - 210,412 to-day (C.S.O.)

  1. The church was re-roofed
  2. The rainwater fittings, gutters and downpipes were renewed.
  3. The interior and exterior walls were treated, lined and plastered where necessary.
  4. The ceiling of the nave was covered with a thick non-flammable aeroboard sheeting.
  5. Two side doors were removed and the opes built up.
  6. New doors were erected at the sides of the church in what had been window positions.
  7. The spiral staircase was removed and a new staircase of Cambrian pine erected.
  8. The Baptismal Font was placed in a new position and railings erected around the Baptistry.
  9. A timber screen of Columbian Pine with stained glass panels, incorporating two pairs of Gothic windows which depict Our Lady and the Sacred Heart and the Baptism of Christ, was erected at the rear of the church.
  10. A new floor was laid.
  11. The windows were stormglazed.
  12. The Stations of the Cross were restored.
  13. Central heating and a Tannoy Sound Reinforcement System were installed and the electrical system updated.
  14. The Sanctuary: The reredos (screen behind main altar) and Tabernacle were removed and the altar moved forward and lowered. Marble panelling to match the pillars in the altar rails was erected on three walls behind the main altar.

    A new Tabernacle, in rough copper with a matt gold door, was placed in the centre of the Sanctuary on the back wall. The marble from the reredos was used to form a ledge to support the new Tabernacle. The side altars were lowered and white Sicilian marble placed behind them.
    The Sanctuary Lamp was lacquered.
    A new Crucifix, new candlesticks and a new vestment press were purchased.
    The interior and exterior of the church were re-decorated.
    A suggestion that the mosaic work be painted was not followed through, to the great relief of the parishioners.
    Outside the Church, the walls bordering the road were lowered, and new gates erected.
    It had been intended to replace the broken figure of Christ in the Calvary, but as this figure is missing, it must not have materialised.
    The repair of the clock was tedious and not a lasting success.

The work was finished by February 1970, and the last instalment paid to the builder on Feb 26, 1971. The Church had got a new lease of life - a place of peace and beauty, warmth and comfort.

Fr. Murphy did not enjoy the fruits of his endeavours. In 1972 he retired through ill health. He went to live in Rathangan where he died on Jan 2, 1979. He was interred in the local cemetery.

REFLECTION

No parish is complete without its churches. The church is the hub of a parish, its link with the past. It embodies a continuity of local history and a condensation of national history. It may be a priceless work of art, but it is not a museum. It was built for prayer and is a holy place.

Mounting the granite steps (reputed to have come from Castleboro House which was burned down during 'the Troubles') to St. Fintan's, Taghmon, one sees the symbols for God and for Christ on the front of the church. On entering, the symbol for Christ on the Tabernacle welcomes the caller to pray, to admire the surrounding beauty and to exclaim - 'Alleluia!'

"Ecce Tabernaculum Dei cum hominibus"

Ad multos annos.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Catholic Library Central, 24, Merrion Sq., Dublin

Central Statistics Office Staff

County Wexford Library

Rev. J. Curtis

Mary Rose Curtis

Marie Fane

Canon John Gahan

Tom Kehoe

The Irish Architectural Archive

Kirwan and Kirwan, Solicitors, Wexford.

Rev. T. McCormack P.P.,Taghmon

Hilary Murphy, 'People', Wexford

Sylvia O'Connor, Solicitor.

Freddy O'Dwyer

Ken Ryan, Abbey Stained Glass Studios

Sean Scallan

Mary Stewart (Architect; London)

FOOTNOTES

  1. 'The People' 14 Sept., 1872
  2. 'The People' 15 May, 1869
  3. Grattan Flood -History of the Diocese of Ferns (Waterford, 1915).
  4. Irish Countryside Buildings by Patrick Shaffrey.
  5. Grattan Flood: p.22
  6. Chambers Encyclopedia
  7. Grattan Flood: p.22
  8. 'Enniscorthy Guardian' 14 April, 1934 - 'Taghmon 85 Years Ago'.
  9. Grattan Flood: p.122
  10. Canon J.Gahan, Gorey
  11. Chambers Encyclopedia
  12. Hilary Murphy - 'Richard Pierce - Our Distinguished Architect' in The Kilmore Parish Journal, 1984/85, Vol.13.
  13. Parochial records, Taghmon. Abridged version - Mary Rose Curtis, Solicitor. Note: 2000 in 1869 = 114,378 in 1995 (Central Statistics Office)
  14. Freddy O'Dwyer; expert on 19th century architecture in Ireland. 'Martin Farrell may have been a relative of James Barry Farrell, C.E., Strandfield, Wexford, County Surveyor from 1840-1891, who jointly with an architect named Bell, designed St. Senan's Hospital in Enniscorthy, opened in 1868'. In 1867, James Barry Farrell registered the death of Ellen Farrell, Strandfield, wife of the County Surveyor. (There is a possibility that 'Martin Farrell' should have read 'James Barry Farrell').
  15. Sean Scallan, - interested in stone/rock formation. Opinion based on visit to church and Knockarone quarry and study of 'The South Wexford Landscape' by Dr. Ned Culleton, also a comment on a use of local building stone, at that period, by Patrick Shaffrey in 'Irish Countryside Buildings'.
  16. 'The People' 14 Sept., 1872 and 'Wexford Independent' 14 Sept., 1872
  17. Tom Kehoe (relative)
  18. Irish Catholic Directory. Central Catholic Library Association, 74, Merrion Square, Dublin 2. (Deirdre Quinn) 'New Ross Standard' 26 June & 3 July, 1925
  19. 'The People' 28 April, 1956; Obituary.
  20. 'The Free Press' 19 March, 1934
  21. 'Life and Work of Harry Clarke' by Nicola Gordon Bowe -Irish Academic Press. The family of Harry Clarke had a Taghmon connection. Nellie McCabe, a close relative of the Winters family of Yolegrove, was house- keeper to the family of Michael Clarke, Harry Clarke's son, for many years.
  22. 'The Free Press' 13 October, 1934
  23. 'The People' 28 April, 1956.
  24. Clerestory: (clear-story) the upper part of the nave of a church, containing a series of windows, admitting light to the central part of the church. Nave: Latin 'navis' meaning a ship; the body of a church from the inner door to the sanctuary or choir. The church is represented as a ship sailing through life's perils.
  25. 'The People' 12 Jan., 1979
  26. 'Golden Jubilee' 1931-1987 - Brunswick Press Limited
  27. Parochial records, Taghmon
  28. The Abbey Stained Glass Studios, Kilmainham, Dublin.
  29. 'The People' 12 Jan., 1979
  30. Symbols for Christ XP (XPICTOC): the first two letters of the Greek word for Christ.
    A - Alpha the first letter of the Greek alphabet and O - Omega, the last letter, signify and remind us that God is the beginning and end of all things.
    'I am the Alpha and the Omega' says the Lord God, who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty. (Revelation 1,8.)