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  • in reply to: Bear with us, at least we're online(ish) #942758


    Well Paul, apart from all the extremely long pages of crappy spam, some of which has been up there for about six months now, which you can’t seem to be bothered to delete & that most of the main contributors posts are showing up as being by ‘Anonymous’ instead of it showing their actual user names & that many years of private messaging with important contact information has been lost & deleted & that we can’t PM anyone, anymore, anyway & that no one posts here because you’ve obviously lost all interest in keeping the forum going, then no, apart from them few minor discrepancies I haven’t noticed any other specific problems.

  • in reply to: Bear with us, at least we're online(ish) #926090


    Hey Paul, are you ever gonna get this site up & running again before it sinks into total oblivion?

    There’s way too many important insights & much too much rare information on here for you to just sit back & allow that to happen.

  • apelles

    @gunter wrote:

    Unless it is the box.

    All that hassle for a box, surely not, I tell you now, if that box is the new altar then I’m a monkey’s oooh ooooh aaaah aaaah!

  • apelles

    TRAIN tracks had to be installed to move a mammoth, freshly carved 7.8 tonne Italian marble altar into the newly refurbished St Mel’s Cathedral in Longford.

    St Mel’s was left a smouldering shell after an accidental chimney fire broke out during the early hours of Christmas Day morning 2009 destroying the marble fittings and original limestone altar.

    Fr Tom Healy described the installation of the new altar as a “significant turning point” in the five-year restoration plan for the cathedral.

    “The altar is the centre of the cathedral, the focal point, so it was a hugely significant day for us,” he told the Irish Independent.

    “There is a sense of momentum and excitement surrounding the restoration. The finishing line is in sight.”

    The refurbished and restored cathedral will open its doors on Christmas Eve 2014.

    The installation of the altar took close to four hours, tracks had to be installed in order to move it into the cathedral and a temporary gantry was constructed so the 4.75ft altar could be safely and securely lowered into place using winches and pulleys.

    The specially commissioned altar, designed by master craftsmen Thomas Glendon, is part of the church’s new layout which aims to bring the congregation closer to the clergy.

    The parish did not disclose the value of the piece but the restoration project is valued at €30m – 95pc of which is funded by Alliance Insurance.

    “I wanted the piece to be a sort of invitation to the community to gather round,” the sculptor explained.

    The altar is Carrara marble – the same rock used in the creation of Michelangelo’s ‘David’.

    “It also decorates the cathedrals of Florence and Milan,” Mr Glendon said. “I wanted to show the beauty of the rock, so the design is quite simple.”

    The altar will also feature a 5ft-wide octagonal baptismal font, which will be installed at a later date.

    After the installation of the altar, Bishop Colm O’Reilly conducted a private prayer, attended by the construction workers.

    Irish Independent

    Should be interesting to see what it looks like once they take it out of the box.

  • apelles

    @praxiteles wrote:

    Perhaps the Iglesia Nuestra Segnora de la Peña de Francia in Porto de la Cruz in Tenerife ?

    If so, this is the Retablo de la Inmaculada Concepción, late XVII century, dominated by the arms of the kingdom of Ireland (just visible behind the chain of the sanctuary lamp), and the gift of the Walsh family to the parish. The attic has a picture of the Cristo de La Laguna. The upper register, has a descent from the Cross flanked by the apparition of Our lady and the Christ Child to Santa Rosalia of Palermo and a Assumption of Our Lady. The niches in the lower register have statues of Santa Rita of Cascia, a Madonna and St. Patrick. The altar mensa is a a late 19th century reproduction of the original.

    It may be currently run by the Augustinians.

    Now I have to say thats impressive Praxiteles, I had started off looking for that in Spain alright but soon gave up when I was finding that there are lots of similar Spanish made Reredos dedicated to St. Patrick that been exported to places as far flung as Mekico & other ex-Spanish colonies . . I’d love to be as cognizant on these topics.

    Might any of you be able to throw some light on identifying the architect of this one, its the Nativity Roman Catholic Church in Kilcormac, County Offaly

    More images here http://www.buildingsofireland.ie/niah/search.jsp?type=images&county=OF&regno=14815012
    Detached Roman Catholic church, built c.1880, with six-bay nave, lean-to side aisles, chancel to west and sacristy to south-west. Built on the site of a former chapel. Pitched slate roofs with limestone coping, carved stone cross finials, limestone chimneystack and cast-iron rainwater goods. Terracotta ridge cresting to sacristy and chancel. Cut stone bellcote to east gable. Snecked limestone walls with dressed stone quoins. Pointed-arched window openings with block-and-start surrounds and stained glass to nave. Rose window to east elevation. Traceried stained glass windows to chancel and western aisle. Shoulder-arched openings to sacristy. Pointed-arched door openings with limestone block-and-start surrounds, hoodmouldings with floral stops and double timber battened doors. Timber roof trusses to interior. Grave markers to yard. Stone grotto in corner of yard near pointed-arched gateway with cast-iron gate to convent. Cross from Cistercian monastery in boundary wall. Churchyard bounded by random coursed wall with ruled-and-lined wall to eastern end with piers and cast-iron gates. Swivel cast-iron pedestrian gate.

    This Roman Catholic church is of both architectural and artistic merit. The finely executed stonework, including the stone dressings, bellcote and finials attest to excellent craftsmanship at the time of construction. Features such as the stained glass windows and also some of the decorative stonework add artistic interest to the site. The grave markers, stone grotto and wall mounted cross enhance the setting, which is completed by the boundary walls and gate piers. Together with the neighbouring convent, the Nativity Church forms part of a group of ecclesiastical structures at the centre of Kilcormac.

    [attachment=0:36gvc25z]old interior painting 1879.jpg[/attachment:36gvc25z]

    The first image above is a bit of a rarity I think, its an oil painting of the interior from 1879 which hangs in the sacristy, painted from before the apse was added in 1907.

  • apelles

    @gunter wrote:

    What do the gentlemen of this thread know of the work of a Dublin stained glass artist called John Casey, who sometimes traded as J & D Casey, of Moore Street and later Marlborough Street, 1830s to 1870s?

    Not a lot out there Gunter, you’ve probably already seen this http://www.dia.ie/architects/view/429#tab_works

    And he gets a little mention on this.

  • apelles

    St Rynagh’s in Banagher http://strynaghschurch.ie/ has reopened after a little friendly dialogue with the Offaly planners about relocating the rose window from an abandoned convent chapel down the road to its new home in the church sanctuary wall.

    The salvaged window

    How the old Ray Carroll sanctuary looked prior the works

    The sanctuary now with rose window incorporated

    Note the now nearly obligatory use of red carpet Praxiteles, speaking of which, do you happen to recognize where this Eamon Hedderman interior is located http://www.hollyparkstudio.ie/Liturgical.html.

    And is it just me :crazy: or is there way too heavy an emphasis on the neo Gothic reredos in what is obviously a Romanesque church interior?

  • in reply to: reorganisation and destruction of irish catholic churches #774941


    Angry parishioners demand halt to €700,000 church renovation

    By Caroline Crawford

    Wednesday December 19 2012

    A ROW has broken out between parishioners and Catholic authorities over the €700,000 renovations to a country church.

    More than 80 parishioners at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Creagh outside Ballinasloe, Co Galway, have demanded that renovation works cease after they claimed a number of planning stipulations were breached.

    Parishioners are applying to Galway planning authorities to have the works stopped until matters can be resolved.

    They have also demanded the suspension of Mass collections for the renovation fund.

    Former Ballinasloe mayor John Molloy said locals had voiced serious concerns about a number of changes to the refurbishment plans.

    Among the most serious concerns was the removal of the original tiles from the nave of the church, which had been described as “an asset” by the local council.

    “These tiles were put down in the 1930s and are supposed to be protected. They run right up the nave across the front. Parishioners understood they were to remain but they have all been removed and they are putting white marble in their place. What took place is cultural vandalism,” said Mr Molloy.

    Locals are also unhappy that a boundary wall outside the church is over a foot higher than what appeared on the plans. They claim the change is ruining the aspect of the church. They are also concerned about landscaping, with the number of trees due to be planted rising from 19 to 60.

    “We examined the plan and it was placed at the back of the church for parishioners to view but that doesn’t help if what they end up doing is totally different. People are very annoyed about it. We’ve been in to meet the priest but we felt we had to take it further,” added Mr Molloy.

    Our Lady of Lourdes was once the Athlone military garrison church, built in the 1880s. In the early 1930s it was dismantled and transported block by block to its current location were it was reconstructed and consecrated in 1933.

    The concerned parishioners held a meeting this week to discuss the refurbishment where 80 signed a statement claiming that the work was not in accordance with the guidelines as stipulated in the drawing plans. They called for an immediate halt to the work.

    They also called for the second collection at weekend Masses over the last number of years, which went towards the building fund, to be halted.

    Invitations had been issued to church authorities and members of the restoration committee to attend the meeting but they declined.


    Bishop of Clonfert John Kirby said he was surprised by the protest, adding that the restoration committee was working closely with the local council.

    “If people have any concerns there is a restoration committee that they can put their case to. The committee has been following all the rules as far as I am aware.

    “They have also been working closely with a conservation officer from Galway County Council,” he added.

    – Caroline Crawford

    Irish Independent

  • in reply to: reorganisation and destruction of irish catholic churches #774896



    Monday 14 February 2011

    There is an old expression “he didn’t lick it off the ground” and that certainly applies to stained glass artist Evan Connon. Indeed, the talent for stained glass skipped a generation in his case from his Grandfather to himself, but still came through, for it was truly in the genes. We have had some wonderful stained glass artists in Ireland including Harry Clarke, whom many will know from his glorious stained glass windows in Bewley’s Café, to Evie Hone who, in turn, was related to Nathaniel Hone, the 18th C portrait and miniature painter, and Nathaniel Hone the Younger, his great grand nephew in the 19th C. Evie Hone’s most important works are probably the East Window for the chapel at Eton College but of course there are fine examples around Ireland including at Cathal Brugha Barracks.

    Evan Connon’s grandfather, who died quite young, had worked for Harry Clarke but his son didnt follow in his shows. The interest skipped a generation until it came to Evan who was always drawing as a child. When he was 15 years old his father suggested that he give it a shot and he was brought down to the Earley Studios in Dundrum where he met William Earley of Earley & Company who were one of the largest and most prestigious ecclesiastical decorators in Ireland and the U.K. They had operated out of offices and workshops in Dublin’s Camden Street from 1852 to 1974. After that William Earley had a studio in Dundrum. The archive, of Earley & Company, consisting of 337 design drawings and 30 bound volumes of supporting documentation, was donated by the Earley family to the National Irish Visual Arts Library (NIVAL) at the National College of Art and Design between. A project to index and digitise the drawings was completed in 2004 and this material made available to the public on the NIVAL website.

    It was explained to Evan that this wasn’t a question of coming in for a year or two and being trained and then taking off. He would have to be prepared to train properly in the old traditional way, as an apprentice to the trade, which would take eight years and like any student going to college, apprentices were not paid. He decided that this was what he wanted to pursue and was taken on by the Earley Studios. He signed up to the old style apprenticeship from 16 years of age with four years drawing and four years learning the rest. Every day he would return from school to the studio and draw for four or five hours. Mr. Earley would look at his work and encourage him saying, “you’re improving, you’re improving, one day it will just come to you.” After the four years, he progressed to the next stage, which was two years painting on traditional stained glass. “In stained glass you have to be able to extend the drawing because the windows are larger at the top, they may be 40 ft tall, and you have to be able to show the depicted scene at the top, and that is what Willie Earley was teaching me as an ecclesiastical cartoonist.”

    Looking around at the beautiful drawings in the studio, Connon explained “they have the unique Irish ecclesiastical style of my training, the influence of Harry Clarke and of the Earley Studios.” When the Earley Studios closed in Dundrum, Connon set up his own studios. “I started knocking on priests’ doors. They of course weren’t going to let me pull out a €40,000 window to restore it just because I said I could do it, but I started getting small jobs around the country, things like door panels in churches and so on. A priest in Croghan in Co. Roscommon gave me my first opportunity. I was on the dole with eighty pounds a week but I literally had a Fiat Uno and I flew around the country. My sister lived in Cork, I had friends in Kerry, and I would turn up on their doorstep knowing they would put me up for the night. I met Monsignor Dan O’Riordan in Kerry and it was he who gave me a big break in St. John the Baptist Church, Tralee, by allowing me to restore the church window and then do my first window which is of St. Brendan.” From there it got really really busy and at the age of 26 in 2006 Connon started approaching architects. “I met Paul Arnold, of Paul Arnold Architects, in Portobello and he asked me to restore a window at the Star of the Sea Church in Sandymount.” Paul Arnold then asked him would he be interested in restoring in Christ Church Cathedral and this, of course, was the golden jewel of restoration, defined as the finest stained glass windows in Ireland. They are pre 19th C and at the age of 26, to be allowed do this was a very big honour. Connon says, “the problem with stained glass restoration and conservation in Ireland was that there was no one trained to do stained glass painting. There were people who would do door panels and so on, but a lot of them were not doing good restoration. The fact of the matter is that if you can’t draw it, you can’t paint it. It’s a bit like a bar code, if you keep all the lines straight, its readable, but if you don’t, they bend off and it becomes a mess. We explained to people what we were going to do with conservation, it hadn’t been done before, and from then on we started restoring some of the biggest churches in Ireland, from Castlebar church, which has the biggest window in Connaught to Valentia Island, to all the Ring of Kerry.” Taking out the windows completely they would bring them back to Dublin to the studios where, having made a rubbing of the window, they would dismantle them completely. The process involves washing them in cold water with no acid or anything like that. “Previously people were cleaning them with wire wool and damaging the glass because the paints of years ago were very delicate, the kilns weren’t hot enough then to bake it in.” Then they went to Lixnaw, outside Tralee, and “that was my first opportunity to really blossom as an artist, designing a big rose window.” The next project was at Monavea in Galway where he designed a window of the Guardian Angel minding the children.

    “We were going on then with more designing for churches in Ireland but then the slow down came.” Still only 33 years old, Connon says he talked to his old mentor Willie Earley. “He advised keep costs as low as possible and keep the studio going so I decided then it would be a good idea to join forces with another studio. “I knew of Enda Hannon, Stained Glass, who had a fantastic premises on one of the best streets in Dublin, Francis Street, so I thought if we had the two studios in one we would have all areas of the business covered.”

    Enda Hannon is 44 years old and is originally from Whitehall in Dublin. Hannon has been in Francis Street for ten years with a striking stained glass window shopfront where he has been working with Ron O’Connor who takes care of all of the business end. Hannon got into the stained glass area in a roundabout way. He was originally working with a sign company and this involved doing work in a lot of pubs. With the pub work they also covered a lot of lead light windows and it was from there that he got the start in it. “When I started working for myself I bought the kiln and learned a lot from various stained glass artists over the years, including Evan also, and we did some work together. “That was the secret of the old studios, in the likes of the Clarke studios, there were great glass painters, cartoonists and craftsmen. You might want to be the best stained glass studios but you have to bring people together, have the right people around you. You might have the biggest studio but you mightn’t have the best people in it. You have to realize that you can’t do everything and that was the key that I learned in this recession. It is difficult when you are an artist, you get so caught up in running the business.” Says Connon.

    “We realised we could do more together by putting the two studios side by side. By doing that we each have our strengths and can produce even better stained glass. That’s what we are hoping to achieve here. With the traditional training that I have, and with the training that Enda has in stained glass, we believe it will be one of the finest stained glass studios in Ireland.” They are currently working on University Church on St. Stephen’s Green where the windows are 140 years old.

    People are beginning again to really appreciate the artistry and skill of stained glass so go into your church and look at the windows……..we have so many wonderful ones all over the country.

    So, here’s to Messrs Connon and Hannon who between them create so much light and beauty for us to behold.

    Evan Connon Studio & Enda Hannon Studio

    53 Francis Street,

    Dublin. 8.

    Tel: (01) 473-3044


  • apelles

    @praxiteles wrote:

    This is not the best example of well expressed clear and distinct ideas.

    True, I realize that it’s by no means, the most comprehensive description of the typical features of a catholic church, I suppose my point in posting it was to demonstrate the obvious underlining feelings of contempt & disappointment toward much modern church architecture & how them same feelings now resonate through the collective psyche of the general public when it comes down to how they view both the destruction & design of these buildings.

    On a another note Prax, what are your thoughts on the inclusion of rose windows in sanctuaries, is this always a big no no, or are there certain circumstances or indeed, are there any historical precedence in which this would be deemed acceptable in catholic church design?

  • in reply to: reorganisation and destruction of irish catholic churches #774885


    What are the typical features of a Roman Catholic Church?
    As described (with a slight tone of disdain) on answers.com http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_are_the_typical_features_of_a_Roman_Catholic_Church

    This was once a very simple question to answer, however, since Vatican II, a wave of novelty has rippled through the Church affecting everything, even ecclesiastical architecture. This is no surprise since the architecture of a Church is a reflection of the faith and so when novelties enter the faith, they are reflected in art, music and architecture.

    Some features that remain in all Roman Catholic churches:

    A Sanctuary
    The sanctuary is typically at the center or front of a church. It is distinguished by an altar, usually on an elevation to the rest of the church, though some modern designs wish the people to be on the same level or even slightly above the altar, via a sloping floor. The theological implications of this reversal are on purpose.

    A Choir Loft or Accommodation
    Typically, especially in pre-Vatican II churches, there is a choir loft or reserved pew section for a choir or schola or organist at the back of the church. A schola was an all male choir that sung the Gregorian chant propers and common of the Mass and sometimes would be in cassock and surplice and stand in the center aisle of the church. Organs were typically in the loft and attended by an organist; the massive organ pipes are often visibly running up the walls. In modern churches, where emphasis is put on participation in liturgical singing and responses, the choir is usually situated at the front, beside the sanctuary, so that the congregation can see them and even watch them play their instruments which now include most anything from guitar to drums, tamberines to flutes, etc. Such instruments were once forbidden in churches.

    A Vestibule
    Upon first entering a church, there is a lobby section that might have a bookstore, coat room, statues, etc. This is called a vestibule. In older churches, there is an ambiance of the sacred to help elevate the mind before entering the church proper. This is accomplished by a vaulting ceiling, usually with a broad painting on it or featuring a coffered ceiling. Often there is rich and elaborate decoration; there are devotional statues and candles, paintings, stained glass, stalls for holy cards and books and perhaps even a bookstore. Modern churches resemble more of a reception hall atmosphere and have very sparse decor. Sometimes, if the church is very small or poorly designed, there may be a baptismal font in the vestibule. Although no longer stipulated in the modern rite of baptism, baptisms used to begin outside of the church, in a baptistry or vestibule since the child symbolically was not yet ready to enter the church until undergoing pre-baptismal rites that included an exorcism and anointing with holy oils. The priest would then place his stole upon the child, symbolizing the cross, and then all would enter the church to complete the baptism.

    A Sacristy
    A sacristy contains all the implements, books and vestments for liturgical ceremonies, a sort of antechamber where priests prepare for Mass. Typically there is a tabernacle and an altar in the sacristy against one wall, usually the one that is opposite to the church sanctuary. There are shallow drawers and cabinets for vestments and holy vessels. Supplies such as hosts, candles, incense, etc., are all stored in the sacristy as well. There is a sink called a sacrarium which is used to wash the priests hands and any blessed water; the pipe to this sink goes directly into the earth as is prescribed for the disposing of holy things. Holy oils and other sacred vessels are stored in the sacristy either in the tabernacle there or in a separate vault.

    A Cross
    A Catholic church must have a cross on it, usually in a prominent place such as atop a steeple or bell tower. The cross is made out of stone or wood.

    The Stations of the Cross
    Inside a typical church along the walls are the fourteen (fifteen in modern churches) Stations of the Cross, a penitential devotion that invites the faithful to meditate upon the last hours of Christ from His trial to His burial (or resurrection, if allowing for the 15th station that has been added). These are usually carved from wood or painted though they are represented in a variety of mediums. If entering a church from the vestibule, the Stations begin at the front on the left side of the sanctuary and run along the wall to the back and then skip across the aisle and resume along the right wall back to the sanctuary. Usually each wall has seven stations.

    Stained Glass
    A staple of Catholic architecture, windows are specifically designed to accommodate large panes of stained glass that usually depict a saint or holy event. The rose window, so common to cathedrals and basilicas is a massive circular disc in the back of the church above the vestibule and loft. Smaller churches may just have an intricate stained glass window in this place since rose windows are rare and expensive. Modern stained glass is usually a mishmash of color and formless shapes, which is frankly rather pitiful when compared to the quality, art and color of stained glass of pre-Vatican II times. The glass was meant to show forth the saints through light, a metaphor for Christ illuminating them and their virtues and example and thus the affect was to raise the mind to God, whereas modern stained glass with its abstract shattered shapes just distorts and tints light.

    A Pulpit
    If entering from the vestibule, a pulpit can usually be seen at the front of the church, left of the sanctuary. It is from here that the priest gives his sermon. In older churches, the pulpit is often of wood or stone with elaborate carvings or statues around it. The pulpit has a short flight of stairs so that the priest is on an elevated level to the congregation to better allow his voice to project. To further aid his voice there may be a wooden disc or board suspended above him or even projecting out of the pulpit itself over him – this is a sounding board which helps bounce sound back towards the congregation. Many modern churches do not bother constructing a pulpit and instead usually have a lectern – a wooden reading stand – or just a microphone stand. Some priests prefer to preach solely via the microphone clipped to their vestments, thus allowing them to walk down the aisles, among the congregation, as they preach.

    Things that are traditionally part of church architecture but have been repressed since Vatican II (Note, in any church built before Vatican II, these things can still be seen if the diocesan bishop or parish pastor has not deliberately had them removed or destroyed):

    A Communion Rail
    Typically made from the same material as the altar or church itself – meaning marble, stone or wood – a Communion rail was built into the floor and was the demarcation between the sanctuary and the congregation. Communion rails are no longer used for two reasons: Communicants used to kneel to receive Holy Communion and so leaned on the railing. Communion is now often received standing, except in the most traditional parishes, and so the railing is redundant. Secondly, Vatican II wished the faithful to participate more in the liturgy and modern theology wishes to emphasize the priesthood of the people. To this effect, the demarcation between the priest and the people, sanctuary and congregation, was removed.

    The Reredos
    Altars used to be against the front wall of the church sanctuary – save in cathedrals and other massive churches where the altar was centered – as the priest celebrated Mass facing the tabernacle with his back to the people. The reredos was the elaborate front piece that surrounded the tabernacle and spread the length and breadth of the wall. Reredos were usually made out of the same material as the altar and had columns and pillars with platforms for statues. Altars have since been moved out from the wall and the tabernacles taken off them since the priest now celebrates mass facing the people and it is considered important that he has direct contact with them visually. Front walls in modern churches are often just white washed or feature some abstract mosaic or painting.

    The Baldicino
    In cathedrals and basilicas, where altars were centered and not against the wall, instead of a reredos you would see a baldicino. The baldicino was an immense covering which sat on four pillars over the altar. It was often done in the most resplendent decoration and materials. Modern cathedrals and basilicas, such as that in LA, do not have baldicinos.

    Side Altars

    Besides the main altar at the front, any church bigger than one with an exceptionally small congregation had side altars, small niches along the church walls that had other altars where a priest could say mass or the faithful kneel to pray their devotions. There could be as many side altars as the church could structurally accommodate; massive cathedrals and monasteries typically had dozens. Each side altar was dedicated to a particular saint or mystery of Our Lord and had its own reredos and tabernacle, though usually these tabernacles where not functional as the Blessed Sacrament was reserved in only one tabernacle, the main one on the altar or Blessed Sacrament chapel. Side altars are now rarely constructed if at all because most parishes, because of the shortage of priests, do not have more than one or two priests that may need to say mass. Further, the new theology makes mass a social event almost requiring a congregation and so side altars, where a priest would say a private mass, are no longer used.

    The Crypt
    Typically, if a church had a basement, it was reserved for the repose of the dead either above the floor in stone sarcophagi or in the floor itself or in horizontal compartments sealed in the walls. Usually holy personages, rich or famous personages provided they died as faithful Catholics or clergy were buried in such places.

    Overall Shape and Organization
    Modern churches are notorious for their architectural ugliness. This may seem a very subjective judgment, but truly, modern church architecture has utterly departed from its sacred symbolism. Large churches, such as cathedrals, used to be constructed in the shape of a cross, so that if you were to look down at them they would actually look like a cross. The length of the church – where the main aisle ran down – was called the nave. The crossbar that intersected the nave was called the transept. The point where the nave and transept intersected was called the crossing and usually here was found the sanctuary. In larger churches, like cathedrals, there used to be a dome, such as St. Peter’s in Rome, and the outer area in the church around this dome was called the ambulatory and was ringed with side altars. For such massive churches there were needed flying buttresses, these are the huge pillars outside of a church that look as if spider legs jutting out from the body. They are needed to offset the weight so that the walls do not cave in. Churches used to always have depictions of the faith on their walls, either in running paintings or carvings, so that even the most simple soul could absorb the catechism just by looking around the building. Modern churches are remarkably bare of iconography.
    Some modern churches, at least in the 1960s and 70s attempted to incorporate the Catholic Faith into their architectural designs with mixed results, although they were formidable attempts. Then things just got silly and then downright insulting. Most modern churches are barren, resembling assembly halls more than anything else and stripped of the decor and symbolism that churches were typically replete with in centuries past. In a huge twist of irony, modern church design is so eccentric and strange that it can be identified by it; often people look at a building and conclude it is a church because it could not possibly be anything else due to its unique malformation. There are two reasons for this architectural dissolution. One is that the modern Church is not concerned with appearances, since the emphasis is on the people, not on the exteriors hence distraction and any form of barrier or separation is avoided. Secondly, modern churches are designed with an eye on being current, trying to reach the world by adapting to modern fringe design and the tastes of the times.

  • apelles

    And here’s a video showing the making of a Spanish polychrome sculpture http://www.nga.gov/podcasts/video/hi/sacred-hi.shtm

  • apelles

    The Making of a Seventeenth-Century Spanish Polychrome Sculpture http://www.nga.gov/exhibitions/2010/sacred/conservation/slideshow/index.shtm#

    Francisco Antonio Gijón (1653–c. 1721) and unknown painter (possibly Domingo Mejías)
    Saint John of the Cross c. 1675 painted and gilded wood

    The polychromed wooden sculpture, which depicts the 16th-century saint known as John of the Cross, has recently undergone technical examination and conservation treatment by the object conservation department at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

    To mark his beatification in 1675, when John was proclaimed worthy of public veneration in preparation for sainthood, the Carmelite convent in Seville commissioned this sculpture of him undergoing a mystical experience.

    Originally, a dove, symbol of the Holy Spirit, was attached to his right shoulder, while in his right hand he would have held a quill, poised to record his vision in the book he holds in his left hand. The miniature rocky mountain on top of the book alludes to the title of the saint’s celebrated spiritual treatise, Ascent of Mount Carmel.

    Francisco Antonio Gijón was a sculptor from Seville renowned for his ability to carve dramatic works with intense expression. He was only 21 when he was awarded the commission.

    Composite x-radiograph of Saint John of the Cross

    During the technical examination, x-radiography revealed that the main body of the figure was carved from a single column of wood hollowed at the back from mid-chest down to the base in order to reduce its weight and minimize cracking along the grain. The radiographic evidence—in addition to subsequent identification of the wood as cypress—corresponds to details of a document in which the artist, Gijón, was commissioned to produce a sculpture of Saint John of the Cross, and specifies that a cypress log would be provided for his use.

    Saint John of the Cross was a Spanish monk and priest born near Ávila in 1542, who during his lifetime founded an order of reformed Discalced Carmelites. (“Discalced” means barefoot or wearing sandals.) He was also a mystic and poet. Having worked briefly in his youth in a sculptor’s workshop, John wrote of the necessity of sculpture to inspire reverence for the saints.

    Schematic drawing of the assembly of Saint John of the Cross
    drawing by Julia Sybalsky

    Examination of the sculpture’s surface and the x-radiograph revealed that the head, arms, hand, left leg, and both feet, as well as the cape, hood, and lower scapular portion of the monastic habit were all separately carved and attached to the trunk using animal glue and nails. The neck was carved with an extension shaped to fit into a hollow in the top of the trunk. Extra sections of wood were attached to the main column to accommodate the figure’s expansive stance.

    Detail showing the separately carved left hand with book

    Each hand of Saint John of the Cross was made separately with a carved tenon (insertion piece) projecting from the center of the truncated wrist so that it could be fitted into the corresponding mortise (opening) at the end of the forearm.

    Sequential schematic drawings of the surface preparations evident on Saint John of the Cross
    drawing prepared by the object conservation department, National Gallery of Art

    The schematic drawing illustrates the process of transforming the bare wood surface to its gilded and decorated final appearance. A team of specialists was involved in making the original sculpture. Traditionally, the sculptor carved the work and applied a white ground. Flesh tones of the head, hands, and feet were then applied by a painter. It was common for yet another artisan to embellish the drapery with estofado (gilded, painted, and scribed decoration).

    Application of glue and linen to wood

    Here, conservators in the laboratory demonstrate the application of glue and linen to cypress wood panels. The preparation of wood surfaces for estofado, a special technique used to decorate the drapery, was more time consuming than that for the encarnciones (flesh tones). Following an overall application of gíscola (animal glue and garlic essence), the surfaces to be gilded were covered with linen. This covering reinforced the separate wooden elements, isolated wood knots, and provided a rough surface to hold the subsequent layers of gesso. The strength provided by the fabric precluded the need for numerous expensive metal nails, which had the disadvantage of corroding and eventually causing the wood to crack during seasonal weather cycles.

    Application of gesso over linen

    Conservators paid considerable attention to maintaining a smooth surface in between each layer, contributing to a final surface that was as smooth as possible.

    [bottom] Next, gíscola was brushed over the fabric-covered surface, followed by four to five layers of warmed, glue-fortified yeso grueso (coarse gesso). Finer yeso mate was applied over the yeso grueso with a light hand in a continuous succession of several thin layers.

    Application of red bole over gesso

    Once dry, the bol (bole, or clay mixed with animal glue) provided a relatively tough but pliable surface on which the gold leaf could be scribed, impressed, or burnished. The final layer was attentively polished, since this was the surface upon which the gold leaf would be laid, and imperfections would be magnified by the gold’s reflection.


    Application of gold leaf over bole
    After dampening the bole with water to activate the glue, individual gold leaf sheets were floated onto the surface and gently set down with a soft brush to work out any air bubbles and allowed to dry.

    [bottom] Burnishing the gold leaf
    The surface was then worked with a burnishing stone to a brilliant sheen.

    Mixing tempera paint and applying over gilded surface

    Painting the gilded surface with tempera
    The brilliant golden surface was brushed with thin layers of the egg tempera paint.

    [bottom] Making tempera paint
    In anticipation of the final steps for creating the estofado design, tempera paint was prepared by mixing diluted egg yolk with pigment.

    Pattern transfer and scribing the tempera paint

    The pattern is transferred to the tempera surface with chalk to act as a guide for scribed lines (left side of panel). The matte surface of the tempera paint provides maximum contrast to the brilliant gold below (right side of panel).

    [bottom] An intricate estofado pattern is revealed in gold as the tempera paint is removed with a stylus.

    Adding punchwork

    Bands of intricate punchwork simulating gold trim border the estofado decoration along all of Saint John’s vestments. Here, punchwork is added to the fabricated gilded decoration to further enhance the designs.

    [bottom left] This detail from the drapery of Saint John of the Cross shows its estofado decoration and punched border. Estofado lent an impression of grandeur to the sculpture, which was often glimpsed from afar. A small repertoire of standard patterns elements could be used in varying combinations and sizes.

    Detail of estofado as seen in a cross-section taken from the robe of Saint John

    The technique of estofado as recreated in the National Gallery’s conservation laboratory is consistent with that seen in this cross-section taken from the robe of Saint John:
    (A) yeso grueso (coarse gesso)
    (B) yeso mate (fine gesso)
    (C) bole
    (D) gold leaf
    (E) tempera paint

    Detail of unshaven chin from the face of Saint John of the Cross

    Once the estofado decoration of the robe was completed, the finely carved features of the face, hands, and feet were prepared. The term encarnación (literally, “incarnation” or “made flesh”) was used by painters to describe the subtle skill of painting the flesh tones of a sculpture. There were two ways of painting flesh tones: polimento (glossy) and mate (matte). The polimento technique, which involved polishing the surface, made the sculptures look shiny and reflected light in an unnatural way. By contrast, the mate technique was much favored in Seville as a way of approximating the true quality of human flesh. This was the technique used by the painter for Saint John’s head, face, hands, and feet. On top of the white ground that covered these areas, the painter first applied a reddish colored priming as a base for the colors. Then, with the skill of a makeup artist, he worked up layers of shadow and texture using an oil-based paint to capture Saint John’s angular cheekbones and unshaven chin. The final touch was to apply an egg-white varnish to make the eyes sparkle.

    Clay model of the head of Saint John

    The tradition of carving and painting sculpture continues to be popular in Spain today. Darío Fernández, a present-day imaginero (sculptor and painter of sacred images) in Seville, Spain, was commissioned to make a reproduction of the head of Saint John of the Cross to illustrate the process of carving and painting flesh tones. First, a clay model is made to determine the sculpture’s proportions, and its measurements are transferred to the wood block. This reproduction was recreated solely from photographs and measurements of the head of the original 17th-century sculpture.

    A clay model of the head of Saint John was made as a preparatory study before carving in wood, as shown here in the studio of Darío Fernández

    Close-up of clay model

    Reconstruction of the head of Saint John of the Cross, by Darío Fernández, 2009
    Contemporary copy of the head and cowl of Saint John of the Cross, generously supported by The Matthiesen Foundation, London, and Coll & Cortes, Madrid.
    Photo © Darío Fernández

    [top] Front view: This modern reconstruction bust of Saint John, crafted by Darío Fernández, shows sequential stages of completion in its fabrication. Across the chest, from left to right: bare wood, glue-coated wood, coarse gesso, and fine gesso.

    [bottom] Back view: the reverse shows of this reproduction sculpture, varying states of completion can be seen from right to left: blocks of wood glued to one another, forms roughed in the wood, and final carved and finished features.

    Sculptures such as Saint John exist today due to the painstaking technical achievements of the many accomplished artists of Golden Age Spain, whose traditions have been passed down to present-day practitioners.

  • apelles

    oriental? where did you pull that word from P?

    The style, Clayton said, evokes that of Byzantine icons “except that the face, in the Franciscan manner, reveals Jesus’ suffering. There is a six winged angel at Our Lord’s feet, and in the background are geometric designs based on octagons—recalling the ‘eighth,’ or eternal, day of creation.”

    Catholic architect and artist Matthew Alderman, who is widely published on the subject of liturgical art—a topic on which he addressed Thomas More College in January 2009—said of Clayton’s new work: “Unlike many Catholic artists today, he understands at a very deep level both iconography and realistic painting, and it shows in his work. It’s also nice to see someone, while working in an ‘iconographic’ mode, basing his work on Western medieval Italian art rather than cribbing from Eastern iconography, which, while venerable, is also somewhat different in content from its historic equivalents in the Latin rite.”

    Well, all I can say is, if a scholar like Mr Clayton is getting it wrong, then what chance have the rest of us of getting it right . . .

  • apelles

    We all require a little divine direction or inspiration from time to time, so when someone like liturgical & iconographic artist David Clayton goes to such great lengths to encourage others in his profession, to think more deeply about the consequences of their commissions for Church art & literally spells out where it’s all been going wrong & indeed, most importantly, how to correct these failings for future generations, then people like me should sit up & take note.

    The full series can be seen here http://thewayofbeauty.org/multimedia/

    David Clayton, examines Catholic traditions in art as an expression of a Catholic worldview. The series focuses on authentic Catholic artistic traditions (iconographic, gothic, baroque and sacred geometry), and examines what constitutes a tradition as well as how it is taught and passed on so that it can respond to the times, while retaining its essential principles. The series shows how the style of these traditions can be related directly to the liturgy, theology and philosophy of the Church.

    Throughout this superb 13 part series, he creates a wonderful new painted wooden cross for the college chapel that mixes both eastern & western traditions.

    More about this piece here http://www.thomasmorecollege.edu/blog/2010/03/02/thomas-more-college-unveils-new-medieval-style-crucifix-in-chapel/

  • apelles

    @PVC King wrote:


    This is happening far to often lately; although in this case a big congrats to the local Gardai for ensuring the return of this artifact. A few facts need to be put out there.

    1. The owners of historical buildings including churchs, Cathedrals do not have unlimited funds to put in manned security guarding.

    2. The Gardai don’t have the resources to fully protect old buildings from theft.

    3. If post theft restorations are to be authentic then metals do have to be used; commercial alternatives such as mastic asphalt are simply not an option.

    Therefore to solve this blood boiling issue the problem needs to be looked at as to what happens after the crime.

    Current position

    1. Thief steals item
    2. Thief sells to antique dealer or scrap metal dealer for cash
    3. Thief is home free
    4. Scrap dealer / antique dealer (to a lesser degree) gives bogus receipt and or description of vendor.
    5. DPP advise Gardai that sufficient evidence does not exist to pursue recipient of stolen goods.

    UK experience

    In the UK metal theft has been a real issue affecting millions of people due to metal thieves stealing communications cableling serving commuter trains. In addition English Heritage estimates that some £770m (€947m) of damage was caused by metal thieves last year.



    1. Ban all scrap metal purchases in cash; where bank transfers cannot be made the cheques would need to be made bearing information that such instruments were not transferable to third parties.

    2. Set up a list of protected articles housed in protected structures to be held by police and the Irish Antique Dealers Association.

    3. Create manditory fines for handling stolen antiquities from protected structure of not less than 10 times the value estimated by a valuer appointed by the Minister for the Environment and Local Government.

    Any other ideas?

    Well I for one would certainly agree with you PVC King that something radical needs to be done about ensuring the long-term protection of these priceless artifacts from random thieves. An Garda Síochána were quite lucky in this instance that the thieves had hidden the shrine in a bogland area & the Gardai were simply able to track their mobile phone movements to recover the item. They’re not gonna be so lucky every time something like this goes missing unless of course these relics maybe have their own tracking devises hidden within them, isn’t the technology outhere to do this already?


  • apelles

    I googled the name of the “conscientious objector” from the above article (better not mention him by name in case he tries to sue) & it appears fairly obvious to all that while he is an architect, he’s also some sort of serial objector!

  • apelles

    Delay for Cathedral following objection
    Published: 25 April 2012 in the Longford leader

    Progress on reconstructing St. Mel’s Cathedral has been stalled somewhat after an objection was lodged with An Bord Pleanála against Longford Town Council’s decision to grant permission to carry out works relating to the sub-floor and roof.

    Planning permission had been granted for a new roof and sub-floor, as well as the erection of new limestone columns and pilasters to replace the original ones lost in the fire on Christmas Day 2009.

    However, while planning permission was granted by Longford Town Council at the end of March, an objection to the plans for the roof and the floor was lodged with An Bord Pleanála last Friday by Liam Madden. No work can be carried out until they rule on the application, which is expected to be by August 23.

    According to the Chairman of the St Mel’s Cathedral Project committee, Seamus Butler, there was no need for the objection. “We would certainly say the objection was of an imperious nature. An Taisce actually sent a letter praising the planning application, which is almost unheard of. For there to be one objection out of all the people in the country is certainly disappointing.”

    Fr Tom Healy reiterated Mr Butler’s comments stating he was “incredibly disappointed” with the objection. “This is a remarkably complex project but when the guardians of heritage in this country, An Taisce, send a letter praising the application it makes the objection even more disappointing.”

    Mr Butler added that the project is ahead of schedule and is confident the objection should not set the project back any time. It is hoped to proceed with an order of limestone for the columns and the pilasters after a meeting of the committee due to be held on May 1st. It is expected it will take over a year for all the stone to be ready to be erected in the Cathedral.

    Tenders for the construction of the sub-floor and the roof will be advertised soon, with construction ready to begin if An Bord Pleanála rule against the objection.

    Longford Town Council granted permission for a new concrete sub-floor which will be supported independently from the original structure in line with conservation principles. This sub-floor will finish 150mm below the existing floor finish to allow for a new floor build up, possibly incorporating underfloor heating and the desired new floor finish, which will be subject to a further planning application.

    The design team had also got the green light for the construction of the new roof, with the major difference being the inclusion of steel trusses over timber, which were originally in place.

    In their application, the design team state steel would allow for a different configuration than timber and would allow improved walkways which would benefit maintenance in the future. They also state that steel trusses could be erected quicker, lessening the exposure of the building to the elements. Mr Butler also stressed the steel would not be visible either from within or outside the building.

    As a protected structure under the Planning and Development Act 2000, the rebuild of St Mel’s Cathedral will have to adhere to strict rules to protect and respect the original building.

    The next stage of the reconstruction is a planning application for the interior of the building given that the green light has been given for the construction of the church organ, which caused some controversy in February when it emerged an Italian company had won the tender for its construction.

    The final planning application will involve the exterior of the building and the grounds and will be submitted at a later stage.

  • apelles

    Thank God for the Irish social network
    23 Feb 2012

    Fr Gerry Kane reports on how niftydetective work helped a church refurbishment

    Some work was done in Harold’s Cross Church in Dublin nearly eight years ago, in October 2004. An alcove was converted into a beautiful recess for prayer. Some old doors were taken down and left outside to be carted away.

    Recently, we decided to set up a reconciliation room, to encourage reception of the sacrament. Our architect advised that the original doors would have been the best solution, in keeping with the design of the church.

    We looked at a similar set of doors, to a store room off the church, and wondered about moving them.

    We could replace those doors with something modern. New doors wouldn’t be as obvious there as they would be in the body of the church.

    Before a final decision, we tried to find the original doors. Checking through our records, we saw that a company called Peter Johnson Interiors were involved in the renovation in 2004.

    Beth Fitzpatrick, who had organised the work, confirmed they were the people to contact. They were extremely helpful, and remembered the job.

    After a few phone calls, they suggested that the doors might have been taken away by the man who put in new flooring. He was from down the country somewhere. Either that or they could be in some salvage yard nearby.

    I tried one of the salvage yards, off the South Circular Road. Again the man in charge was very helpful, and had all the time in the world to help in this wild goose chase, once he heard the story.

    (Pictured: Alan Moore – left – and Brendan Conlon with one of the rescued doors)

    He brought me through his bewildering array of store rooms and warehouses, looking at all the many doors he had in stock. No sign of our doors though.

    When he heard it was a set of double doors, intact, he suggested that they were probably in some pub by now, and maybe a pub crawl would be in order!

    Again checking our records, the man down the country turned out to be Brendan Conlon, a craftsman from Kinnegad, Co. Westmeath.

    However, his invoice was now way out of date, and the phone number redundant. A Google search revealed many websites offering silly information on various Brendan Conlons throughout the world, most of them in the USA.

    But no phone number or details for the man we wanted.

    Last chance — I tried the old-fashioned Irish Google: the family and friends network. I rang a cousin of mine, Phil Flynn, also living in Kinnegad.

    No, she didn’t know him. But her sister Edel might — she was in the business. Within a few minutes, I had Brendan’s mobile phone number.

    A nicer man you couldn’t talk to. Yes, he remembered the job. He had seen the doors outside waiting to be taken away when he was finished, so he had offered to do it.

    They were probably still stored in his brother’s shed where he left them. He would check, just to be sure.

    He rang the following morning. Yes the doors were there intact, after eight years.

    Time and again, he had been offered money; for the brass handles, one door, the glass, the wood, whatever.

    But for some reason, he said no. They were still in the same condition in which they had arrived.

    As another brother, Fr John Conlon in Duleek in Meath said, they were just meant to be returned to where they belonged. So, Brendan offered to bring the doors back to us in a day or two.

    Thanks be to God Ireland is such a small country. Thanks be to God for old-fashioned Irish Google.

    And thanks be to God for gentlemen craftsmen, for whom life is more than the quick buck and the fast sell.

  • in reply to: reorganisation and destruction of irish catholic churches #774740


    Seasons greetings Prax, Heres an interesting article for you that enquires “just which Dublin church did AWN Pugin help design for JJ McCarthy”?
    Note also how William MacBride from the Dublin Craftworkers gets a mention.

    Saint Catherine’s: the poor man’s Cheadle?

    Saint Catherine of Alexandria, Meath Street … was this the work of McCarthy or of Pugin? (Photograph: Patrick Comerford (2010)


    A few weeks ago, I visited Saint Saviour’s Church, the Dominican church in Lower Dominick Street, Dublin, which Jeanne Sheehy describes as “the most important” of JJ McCarthy’s “city churches.”

    Saint Saviour’s is built in the 14th century Decorated Gothic style. The foundation stone was laid on 8 September 1852, and the church was consecrated on 15 January 1861. The façade bears many similarities to the west front of Basilica of Saint Clotilde on the Rue Las Cases in Ste Germain-des-Prés in Paris, without its twin spires. Inside, the fine interior of Saint Saviour’s, with its high arches and delicate tracery and carving, make it one of the most beautiful churches in Dublin; the north aisle and south aisle are later additions.

    This was the finest of McCarthy’s Dublin churches, but for the rest of his life McCarthy had to defend himself against accusations that Saint Saviour’s had, in fact, been designed by the great architect of the Gothic Revival, AWN Pugin. In a letter published in the Dublin Builder on 1 February 1863, ‘An Architect’ queried whether McCarthy had designed Saint Saviour’s and implied that it was the work of Pugin.

    For the rest of his life, McCarthy defended himself against allegations that he was not the true architect of Saint Saviour’s and that it was, in fact, the work of Pugin. But to be fair to both Pugin and McCarthy, it is clear that Pugin did not design Saint Saviour’s – instead, many of its details are reproduced from Saint Clotilde’s. But McCarthy’s denials and those comparisons do not resolve questions about which church Pugin designed for McCarthy early in 1852.

    If Saint Saviour’s is not Pugin’s, I wondered whether there was another church in Dublin that had been designed by Pugin but which McCarthy managed to pass off as his own.

    At the time, McCarthy had received three commissions in quick succession for landmark churches in Dublin: Our Lady Star of the Sea, Sandymount (1851), and Saint Catherine of Alexandria, Meath Street, and Saint Saviour’s, Lower Dominick Street (both 1851). These three churches were designed in quick succession in a period of sixteen months, so naturally there were questions whether McCarthy was the sole author and creator of each work.

    McCarthy was in correspondence with Pugin early in 1852, seeking advice on his own projects and offering to undertake the management of some of Pugin’s commissions in return for half the fee and all the travelling expenses. The collaboration between the two architects was difficult and finally was cut short by Pugin’s death on 14 September 1852. But was that collaboration in the months immediately prior to Pugin’s death limited to the FitzPatrick chantry in Clough, or did it extend to McCarthy’s more public and prestigious ecclesiastical undertakings in Dublin?

    The interior of Saint Catherine’s in Meath Street … similar in many ways to Pugin’s ‘perfect’ Cheadlle (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2010)

    In mid-January 1852, McCarthy wrote to Pugin asking for drawings for a church in Dublin. Rosemary Hill points out in her biography of Pugin, God’s Architect, that this was the sort of arrangement Pugin would not have tolerated a few months earlier, even a few weeks earlier. But a letter in the collection of Phoebe Stanton shows that Pugin wrote back to McCarthy on 15 January, agreeing to undertake “finishing all the drawings details & anything required your superintending.”

    And so the question must be asked; which church in Dublin did Pugin design for McCarthy? And did McCarthy claim it as his own – just as Charles Barry in the same year would claim Pugin’s work in the Palace of Westminster as his own?

    Pugin’s letter, dated 15 January 1852, advises MCarthy: “Let everyone see and hear by the chancels … down the nave. Keep the churches bright with good windows … you will see that if you honour the chancel we will make your church a chancel.” By the time Pugin wrote this letter, McCarthy’s church in Sandymount was already being built, while work on Saint Saviour’s would not begin for another eight months. It is difficult to imagine that by mid-January 1852, McCarthy was not anticipating the commission he was about to receive for Saint Catherine’s in Meath Street.

    So last week I headed off with a student to take a closer look at and to measure Saint Catherine’s in Meath Street. In every respect, this looks like Pugin’s ideal English country parish church. It is built in the Decorated Gothic style, with some Perpendicular features.

    The Power memorial window in Saint Catherine’s (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2010)

    I’m interested to find out that McCarthy’s commission came through the goodwill of those closest to Pugin’s own patrons in Staffordshire and Co Wexford, the Talbot and Power families, and that craftsmen who worked on it had all been engaged in Pugin’s own works in Ireland.

    Saint Catherine’s replaced an earlier, octagonal shaped Georgian chapel that stood on the site. Canon John Laphen’s proposals for the new church were approved by his parishioners at a meeting called in February 1852 and chaired by Sir James Power (1800-1877) of Edermine, Co Wexford.

    Power, who was the proprietor of Power’s Distillery, was closely connected with Pugin’s patrons in Staffordshire and Wexford: in 1843, he had married Jane Eliza Talbot, a daughter of John Hyacinth Talbot and a first cousin of Maria Theresa Talbot, Countess of Shrewsbury; then, in 1851, at the age of 58, and almost 30 years after the death of his first wife, Anna Eliza Redmond, John Hyacinth Talbot married Power’s sister, Eliza. Perhaps through Power’s persuasive powers, Laphen’s plans were accepted immediately, and McCarthy began work without delay: the foundation stone was laid on 30 June 1852 by Archbishop Cullen.

    McCarthy’s plans included a nave with open timbered roof, side aisles and chapel at an estimated cost of up to £9,000. The church was complete by March 1857 – apart from the upper portion of the tower and spire – and was dedicated on 30 June 1858. McCarthy’s intended tower was never completed, and the stub was finished off later with a machiolated parapet. The side elevations include perforated buttresses and trefoil aisle windows above the stone-roofed aisles.

    The interior of Saint Catherine’s is plain. The impressive great East Window (1862) by Frederick Settle Barff (1823-1886), a former Anglican priest who had converted to Catholicism in 1852. The window floods the sanctuary with light, and it is matched by an equally impressive West Window with perpendicular panelled tracery … just as Pugin advised McCarthy when it came to designing churches.

    ‘The Martyrdom of Saint Catherine of Alexandria,’ by William MacBride of Dublin, in a similar position as the ‘Doom Painting’ in Saint Giles in Cheadle (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2010)

    The painting in the architrave, separating the chancel from the nave, depicts ‘The Martyrdom of Saint Catherine of Alexandria,’ and is by William MacBride of Dublin. But is in a similar position as the ‘Doom Painting’ in Pugin’s ‘perfect’ Saint Giles in Cheadle, near Alton Towers, the Earl of Shrewsbury’s home in mid-Staffordshire.

    Indeed, Saint Catherine’s is, for all the world, like a poor man’s Cheadle, which Pugin regarded as his ‘perfect’ work.

    Pugin died on 14 September 1852, only weeks after the foundation stones had been laid for Saint Catherine’s and Saint Saviour’s. McCarthy quickly assumed the supervision of completing Pugin’s two Irish cathedrals, Saint Mary’s, Killarney, and Saint Aidan’s, Enniscorthy, and of Richard Pierce’s ‘Twin Churches’ in Wexford.

    If any Dublin church was designed by Pugin, then it must have been Saint Catherine’s. Could McCarthy have managed to hide this by allowing himself to defend only the allegations made about Saint Saviour’s?

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