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Leinster Leader, Saturday, August 1, 1959
On Sunday, His Grace Most Rev. J.C. McQuaid, D.D., Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland, will preside at Solemn High Mass in St. Patrick’s Church, Celbridge. The occasion will mark the Centenary of the beautiful Parish Church – a Gothic building of unusually graceful lines – which was solemnly blessed and dedicated on Trinity Sunday, 1959.
Designed by Architect J.J. McCarthy a nephew of the famous Pugur, it was built by Very Rev. Daniel Byrne, P.P., and adorned with some notable stained glass with a very lovely pulpit and a distinguished baptism font surmounted in very fine carved oak. It is interesting to note, and a sad commentary on the dwindling value of money, that less than £5000 was the total cost of erecting this magnificent cut stone building and furnishing it for divine worship.
Trinity Sunday, 1859, was a big day in the annals of Celbridge. From the Kingdom of Kerry travelled Most Rev. Dr. Moriarity, Lord Bishop of Kerry, who was to deputise for Archbishop (afterwards Cardinal) Cullen, who the records tell us was ill and unable to officiate. His Lordship of Kerry “was assisted by the Right Rev. Dr. McNally, Bishop of Clogher, and the Right Rev. Dr. Whelan, Bishop of Bombay with a large number of priests and an immense concourse of the laity”. So wrote Father Dan Byrne, the builder, under the date 19th June, 1859, and we can sense the pride and the joy that engulfed him as he added “Laus Deo Semper”, “Praise be to God forever”.
A Train for 35/9
We read with not a little interest that the solemn opening of the Church was advertised in the Freeman’s Journal on several occasions in June 1859, and that a special train was run to Hazelhatch to carry the many visitors to Celbridge. The cost of the special train is duly noted by Father Byrne at the almost incredible figure of £1-15-9!
What kind of place was Celbridge of one hundred years ago? Evidently a much more important and prosperous village than it is to-day. Shortly after the beginning of the 1800’s the immense mills at the entrance to the town were built and soon employed more that 600 operatives in a flourishing woollen trade. Thirty years later we read that business in wool had declined and that the number employed had fallen considerably but that further up the river a new cotton mills had opened (Templemills) which had absorbed one hundred employees. We remember too, that the flour mills nearby, were in full production and were said to provide work for close on 700 men. It is therefore not surprising to learn that one hundred years ago, nearly 300 families lived in the village of Celbridge itself, that is in Main Street, Big Lane (now Maynooth Road) and Tay Lane. It was there, to a reasonably prosperous community Father Byrne appealed in May, 1859, to start the collection of funds for the new church. It was a bold venture, less than ten years after the famine, but the people responded with great good will. The district collectors appointed were Mr. Booth for Oldtown; MrLynam for Killadoon; Mr Brady for Simmonstown; Mr Carroll for Newbridge; Mr Dignam for Celbridge; Mr Thomas Broe for Tipperstown; and Mr Harte for Templemills. A weekly house to house collection was instituted and brought in the remarkable figure of nearly £6 a week, no small amount in those days of unbelievably small wages. There are some poignant entries amongst the list of subscriptions: “The Widow Meyler, 1/-, Bridget King, 6d, The Widow Geraghty, 2/6, Mr John Broe and Mr Richard Bean gave several subscriptions of £5 each, while the Archbishop gave £30”.
An interesting entry appears under 31st March, 1857; “John Coughlin (his first prize at school), 1/-“and some months later, “Mary Coughlin (her first prize), 1/- . One would certainly like to know more of this Coughlin family and of the subsequent history of John and Mary.
Stained glass windows were presented to the new church by Mr J.J. McCarthy, the architect, by Father Robert Wheeler the curate, by the Hon. Charles V. Charles (jun), by Fr. Dan Byrne himself, and by Rev. J.J. Lee and Rev. T.P. Fagan, then curates of Blackrock, Co. Dublin.
The Old Church
The Church opened in 1859 replaced what was apparently a penal day’s church, a long low building about 50 feet by 20 feet, which stood broadside-on, in front of the present church in Main St. Under March 21st 1859, we read that Father Byrne “paid labourers for taking down old chapel £8-12-9”, but received fro Mr J, Rourke, Mr T. Malone and Mr Kelly £11-18-6 for old timber and stones”. An old map dated 1839 shows the position of the original church with apparently a small house between it and the present entrance gates. One wonders could this have been the residence of the one of the parish clergy.
That Celbridge Church is in such a fine state of preservation is no small tribute to the twelve parish priests who have ruled the parish since Father Dan Byrne went to his reward. With the active co-operation of the good parishioners, the fabric has been kept in excellent repair, and each succeeding parish priest has done his share to hand on a worthy Tabernacle to the Most High to succeeding generations.
Still strong in the memory of the older parishioners is the memory of that great Churchman, Fr. Edward J. Dunne, who laboured in Celbridge from 1912 to 1922. The magnificent Sacristy which graces the Church was built by him. He also installed the gracious marble altar rails and the fine Mosaic work behind the altar and the very lovely confessionals. To his memory, too, stands the unique Shrine to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, recognised by a special Rescript from Pope St, Pius X and endowed by him with unusual privileges. The storage heating system was installed some years ago by Very Rev. W.J. Byrne, P.P. It may be recalled that one of the organists in Celbridge Church was a Miss Elizabeth O’Reilly a grand-niece of the Most Rev. Dr. Daniel Murray, Archbishop of Dublin. Miss O’Reilly afterwards became Mrs John Jacob, Rathcoole.
The present parishioners have generously continued the good work and have rallied, with enthusiasm, to the call of their present Pastor, Fr. John McLaughlin, to mark the Centenary by many renovations to the Church. Thus the past year has seen the addition of a Boy’s Sacristy, built by Messrs J. Geraghty and Co., Celbridge, the installation of a complete new lighting system designed by two parishioners, Messrs John A. Deasy and Tadgh Hassett, and installed by Messrs C.J. Ryder and Co of Dublin; new ventilation by the Dublin Glass and Paint Co., some excellent metal work by Messrs. J & C McGloughlin of Pearse St., Dublin, and finally the complete painting and decoration of the interior and exterior of the Church by Messrs J. Fagan and Sons Ltd., Wood Quay, Dublin.
It is interesting to note that much of the paint used was manufactured in Celbridge by General Paints Ltd., Maynooth Road. The courtesy of another parishioner, Mr. C. Van Loukhuyzen, made available the rather unique electric light fittings. In all nearly £3,000 has been spent on renovating the church for the centenary and Fr. McLaughlin has been fortunate in having the energetic help of his popular and zealous curate, Father Joseph Corbett.
Pastors of Celbridge
Celbridge is no parish of mushroom growth. The baptism and marriage registers go back in unbroken line for nearly two hundred years. To the parish in 1830came Fr. Patrick O’Rourke, who, says a mural tribute in the church, spent “twenty-five years in the parish and to whose munificent bequest the building of the new church owed so much”. Fr. O’Rourke left £1,561-7-0 for the church, nearly one-third of its actual cost.
Following is the list of the parish priests of the past 100 years: 1855, Fr. Dan Byrne; 1873, Fr. J. Donovan; 1889, Fr. Henry J. Murphy; 1893, Fr. Francis J. Maguire; 1908, Fr. Dan Deasy; 1912, Fr. Edward J. Dunne; 1922, Fr. P.J. Rowan; 1924, Fr. Edward McGough; 1931, Fr. Joseph Nowlan; 1933, Fr. Dan Hickey; 1941, Fr. J. Clinton; 1949, Fr. W. Byrne; 1956, Fr. John McLaughlin. Many former curates at Celbridge are expected to return for the Centenary celebrations. Amongst these are Very Rev. John Canon Cotter, P.P. V.F., Castledermot (C.C., 1906-1908); Very Rev. Joseph Furlong, P.P. Kilcullen (C.C. 1906-1908); Very Rev. Martin Gleeson, P.P. Ballytore (C.C. 1927-1930); Very Rev. Jos. Canon Purfield, P.P. V.F., Oldtown (C.C. 1931-1932); together with the following – Rev. John Peirce, Rev. Denis Daly, Rev. T. Barry, Rev. J.S. Barnard, Rev. T.P. Callan, Rev. A. O’Connor who served as curates during the past fifteen years. Another welcome visitor will be Very Rev. W.J. Byrne, P.P. Rathgar, who was parish priest of Celbridge from 1949-1956. The preacher at the High Mass will be one whose name is well known to many generations of Maynooth priests all over the world, He is the former Professor of Scripture and Vice-President of Maynooth, Monsignor P.A. Boylan, M.A., D.D., D. Litt., P.P., V.G., P.A., Parish Priest of Dunlaoghaire and Vicar-General of the Archdiocese of Dublin. A distinguished scripture scholar and writer, Monsignor Boylan was honoured by the late Pope Pius X11 with the rate title of Protonotary Apostolic.
Religious Institutions
For some ninety years the Sisters of the Holy Faith have conducted the National Convent Schools at Celbridge and succeeding generations of boys and girls have been prepared for their first Holy Communion by the good Sisters. Their fine work for education over the years has left its mark on the youth of Celbridge. A few years ago the Sisters opened a Secondary Boarding and Day School at St. Wolstan’s which has become an outstanding success. The Hospitaller Brothers of St. John of God have a magnificent foundation at St. Raphael’s Celbridge, where they care for handicapped boys with the zeal and self-sacrifice so long associated with their great Order.
If the passing of one hundred years has seen the decline of the great woollen, cotton and flour mills, town is still of industrial importance. Perhaps not everyone knows that the premises of Irish Meat Packers are in the Parish of Celbridge, and give employment to hundreds of the townspeople. Celbridge Spinning Mills (an adjunct of Navan Carpets Ltd.) have taken over the old woollen mills and are rapidly expanding.
General Paints Ltd., on the Maynooth Road, give good employment and produce first-class paint. Nearby are the printing works of Messrs. A.S. Donaldson, employing much local labour and supplying first-class legal printing. Messrs Elzas and Zoneu are manufacturers and large exporters of parchment while the well known firm of Messrs James Geraghty have been the contractors for many schools and public buildings over a wide area of Ireland. As will be seen from a perusal of the advertisements on this page, Celbridge is well equipped with good business houses offering a great variety of goods and services at keen competitive prices.


SEE ALSO Leinster Leader article from 8th August 1959 on Ehistory

The Leinster Leader of August 1st, 1959 reports on Centenary Celebrations of Celbridge Church and outlines the history of the building of the church.  

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