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KILDARE OBSERVER OF 6TH OCTOBER 1883 REPORTS ON THE CONSECRATION OF ST. MICHAEL'S CHURCH, MILLICENT, CLANE.

Kildare Observer-Saturday, October 6th, 1883
 
Consecration of St. Michael’s Church, Clane
 
On Saturday last, in the presence of a large and distinguished congregation, the Lord Archbishop of Dublin consecrated the church which has been recently erected and presented to the parishioners, through the generosity and munificence of Mr. Thomas Cooke-Trench, of Millicent. The building, which has cost the large sum of about £7,000, is capable of accommodating about two hundred people, and is a structure of much architectural beauty, reflecting great credit on Mr. Trench, on the architect and the builder. We are not going too far, we are sure, in saying that amongst the many parish churches throughout Ireland there are few, if indeed any to surpass in beauty the one consecrated at Clane on last Saturday morning. Though the building was commenced but two years ago, yet long prior to that date, Mr. Trench had desired to improve the parish church. Indeed, as we learn from a pamphlet published by Mr. Trench, so long ago as 1869 an eminent architect had been and consulted, and plans for its improvement were submitted by him. But difficulties arose which were not at the time overcome; and it was not till eleven years after that it was finally resolved to abandon the old church and build a new one on an entirely new site. It would occupy too much space to enter into all the reasons for this resolution, but the parishioners were mainly influenced by the overcrowded state of the churchyard, which forbade extension in any direction, and rendered interments impossible without disturbing older graves. Suffice it to say that at three largely attended meetings of the select vestry, held in 1880 and 1881, resolutions were unanimously passed-at the first accepting the offer of a new church, at the second approving of the plans, and at the third adopting the present site. This last resolution was passed on the 20th June, 1881, and on the same day operations were begun. The church, of which the tower is visible for a considerable distance on all sides, stands on a rising ground in a prominent and central position in the parish. The Wicklow mountains bound and give character to a view of much homely beauty. The chief material is the grey limestone of the neighbourhood, mostly from Mr. Henry’s quarry in the adjoining townland. The quoins and external dressings are of Cumberland red sandstone, the saving arches being of a black stone from Mr. Kirkpatrick’s quarry at Celbridge, which also supplied the lime. The sand was given, free of charge, by Mr. Manders. from his strand at Millicent Bridge. Internally, the walls were plastered, the windows, doors, arches, string courses, pillars, and other dressings being of white Bath stone. The steps, pulpit case, and platform at lectern and front are of Portland stone, the external steps and the bowl of the front and kerbstone of the foot-place are of red Cork marble. The walls throughout are lined with bricks. The roof is of pitch pine, covered with Welsh slates. The doors, floors, and fittings of Riga oak. The walls externally are of uncoursed ashlar, giving an idea of great strength and solidity. Handsome as is the exterior of the buildings, yet it is not till the interior is entered that its full beauties are seen. Those who have studied Lord Dunraven’s “Notes on Irish Architecture” and have learned that we possess a national style of architecture capable of exquisite beauty, especially adopted to buildings of moderate size, will not be surprised to learn that an Irishman, building in Ireland, has adopted the style closely allied to the Norman, and technically known as Hiberno-Romanesque. The first object which strikes the eye entering is the chancel arch of three members and of great richness and beauty; another richly carved arch unites the choir and chancel. These arches strongly remind one of the arches in Cormac’s Chapel, but are, if possible, more richly carved. One of the prettiest effects in the entire building is the view looking westward, when the five windows over the baptistery come into view, filled with a central figure of our Lord, with figures emblematic of baptism in the others-two from the Old and two from the New Testament. All the woodwork is richly carved, and of oak; the bosses of the roof are with a few exceptions different. When we mention that they are 220 in number, the expense will be apparent. There is no repetition of decorated work in the church. Every stroke of the chisel represents thought and care on the part of those who gave it. Of the 71 stone capitals, and 82 bosses, no two are alike, save those in the chimney and four high up on the tower. These were carved in Dublin before they came down, on account of the difficulty of afterwards of getting at them. Even the principal rafters, alike in other respects, have each their distinctive mid-rib. The floor under the seats is made of oak, tongued and grooved, and laid herring-bone fashion. The remainder of the floor is set in marble mosaic in various patterns; that in the chancel, outside the communion rails, and the border round the Bapistry, are both from the pavement of St. Mark’s at Venice. It has been executed by Italian artists in the employment of Messrs. Burke and Co.of Paris and London, The reredos and side walls of the sanctuary are covered with a glass mosaic, the work of Messrs. Powell and Sons of the Whitefriars Glass Works. The spandrels over the east windows are filled with Venetian mosaic by Capello, in memory of Lady Helena Trench who died in the ninety-first year of her age, whilst the building was in course of erection. 
                   Amongst the clergy present on Saturday were-The Deans of Dromore, Ossory, and Leighlin, the Archdeacon of Ossory, the Warden of St. Columbia, the Revs. E.D. Heathcote, J. Henry D D; B.C. Davidson-Houston, Canon Bagot, Canon Wilcox, C.J. Graham, Robert B. Stoney, H. Mollan, J. Molloy, Geo. R. Graham, Joseph Torrens, R. Irwin, R.D. Skuse, G. Garrett, A. Ren, Canon Cowell, James Adams, W. Foster, Canon Lloyd, R.S. Campbell &c.
   The Ven, the Archdeacon of Kildare (the Rev. Maurice de Burgh), read the first lesson, and the Ven the Archdeacon of Dublin this second. Prayers were intoned by the Rev. Canon Weldon and their services were highly appreciated, the choral parts part of the ceremony being really magnificent. The offertory amounted to £72.
    His Grace, in the course of an eloquent sermon, prescribed from Matthew 26th chap. And 8th verse-“To what purpose is this waste?” said: The world will allow and praise any prodigality which is bestowed upon itself; but when it is for God and for Christ, when the costly cedar is overlaid with pure gold in the temple of the Lord, when the alabaster box of precious ointment is broken above the head of Christ, and not a drop kept back, but all poured out, and not on his head only, but on his feet, even then, while the whole of the church is filled with the odour of the ointment, there will not be wanting some to join the cry, “For what purpose is this waste?” But mark, my dear brethren, on the first occasion on which these words, so often since repeated, were uttered, how the Lord silences the murmurers, allows and accepts the gift, and take her who brought it under His protecting love. “Why trouble ye the woman? For she hath wrought a good working upon Me.” And these words also reach very far. I see in them, setting as they did the seal of Christ’s approval on the costly service done to Him, disallowing as they did the plea that the money expanded upon it might have been more usefully expended in some other way; I see in this the allowance, the authority, the justification for very much which has since found place in His church. No cold utilitarianism is to reign there, no niggard calculation of the cheapest rate at which God may be served. The best which any man can bring is not too good; the richest and the rarest are not too rich and rare for Him. The kings of the earth should bring their glory and honour into His temple; and not merely the kings who sit on visible thrones, but they who reign as kings in the spirits of men-the mighty in science, the mighty in art, the mighty in song, they are then doing their best, they are fulfilling most truly the ends for which these transcendent gifts were lent to them, when they consecrate all without reserve to Him, when they, when they count all their science, their art, their song to Him, only then to have reached their highest consummation, whilst they wait as ministering handmaids upon Him, setting forth the beauty of His service, the spread of His truth, and the glory of His name. Thus, if any should ask concerning this beautiful house in which we are worshipping to-day, “To what purpose is this waste?” we answer, in the words of Christ, that it is a good work which has been wrought Him here; nor shall we be led astray though some should remind us how ten or twenty churches for the poor might have been erected for the cost of this one. I honour those who, serving in the spirit and not in the letter, have, in some famine or distress, sold the very sacramental vessels themselves, that with their price they might feed the poor or redeem the captive, but let us honour her also, for Christ honoured her and declared that her praise should be in all the churches, she too serving in the spirit and not in the letter, who broke the alabaster box of ointment over the Saviour’s head, which “might have been sold for much and given to the poor.” Let us honour her, and all who have since trodden in her steps. Short-sighted indeed, even from their own point of view, I believe the alternative course suggested by the objectors would prove. One signal act of self-sacrifice calls out so many more; so it has been found, and so it will be found often again. A noble leader will have many to follow in his footsteps. We put back, therefore, the charge, “To what purpose is this waste?” We feel that it touches not us, who rejoice in the godly house; that it touches as little the large and generous heart which designed and accomplished it.
                      At the conclusion of the ceremony the visitors and guests were entertained at Millicent and at the rectory, open house being apparently the order of a pulpit which had been made since morning, and that another bell had been promised; these, with the already promised lectern and other gifts, will make the furniture of the church almost complete.
 
 

The Kildare Observer of October 6th 1883 reports on the consecration of St. Michael's Church, Clane in the presence of a large and distinguished congretation. Our thanks to Roy O'Brien 


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