- The Carlow Methodist Church, Athy Road. Carlow.
- This article appeared in the Carlow Nationalist
Exactly how Methodism came to Carlow is not known
but that there were Methodists in the town before 1765 is certain. There
are two ways in which Methodism could have been introduced. Carlow was a
garrison town in the 18th century and may have been yet another place to
which Methodist junior officers brought their particular form of meeting
for worship. On the other hand, Carlow was a town sufficient importance
to have been regarded as strategic by John Wesley’s preachers, and one
of them may have been the pioneer.
The place in which the early Carlow Methodists met
was a disused Huguenot church. This was a very small building which had
been erected for a number of non-conforming Huguenots who had settled in
he town. This church was located at the end of a narrow passage from
Tullow Street, bounded at one end by Cockpit Lane. John Wesley visited
Carlow in 1765, 1767, 1769, 1771, 1787 and 1789. While Wesley was
delighting in the improved enthusiasm of the Carlow Methodists, they
were seeking a solution to a problem, which had been caused by the
improvement. The old Huguenot church was no longer large enough for
them, nor was it sufficiently dignified. There was difficulty in
obtaining a site on which to build another church. Eventually, a site
was found in Meeting House Lane (now Charlotte Street). This had been
leased by Trustees of the Quakers of Carlow in 1784 to one James
Delahunty who transferred the lease to the Methodists, and a chapel was
duly built before the end of 1787.
In 1790, the conference established the Carlow
circuit, which embraced all of County Carlow, the greater part of County
Kilkenny and part of County Tipperary.
In 1892, a site for a new chapel was secured – a
quarry site on the Athy Road just behind the Courthouse. As the new site
had been used as a quarry, it therefore needed to be filled, and this
was achieved at a remarkable cost. Some buildings were being demolished
in the town, and the site was only half as far from these as the place
where the rubbish was to be dumped.
Douglas arranged to pay the carters one penny for
each load they dumped at the site, which the gladly accepted as their
journey was halved. For an expenditure of £5 the site was filled.
In the early months of 1897, building operations
commenced. The suite of buildings comprised a chapel and adjoining
lecture hall, and in the basement, a tea room or Sunday School room, a
store and a heating chamber. The external work was of “fine grey
granite, finely axed and tooled”. The work of building continued for
just over a year and the opening services were held on Friday, April15th
Carlow Methodists have continued to worship in this
church for almost 100 years, and on April 15th 1998 they celebrated
their centenary which was followed by a celebration service followed by
the launch of the book, ‘Asses, Colts and Loving People’, an intriguing
title for an intriguing history of Methodism on the Carlow circuit. The
book was written by Rev D. A. Levistone Cooney, from which the above
paragraphs have been extracted.
Carlow Nationalist April 1998
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