St. Anne's Church, (now known
as St. Clare's Church, Graiguecullen) once occupying a site
next to Kelvin Grove on Athy Road has now been moved
across the river. This may seem strange, but it is true.
It went over stone by stone to become St. Clare's,
The church is part of Carlow's history and
that history brings us back to 1841- the heyday of the
Tory landlord. Colonel Henry Bruen of Oak Park and Thomas
Bunbury were returned for the constituency by a close
margin against Dan O'Connell - Junior, known as 'young
Dan," and John Ashton Vates. Conservatives of
Tipperary set the ball rolling by starting a presentation
fund for Col. Bruen. Other counties followed suit. A
deputation waited on Col. Bruen at Carlow Clubhouse on
April 2nd, 1852.
They had £2,000 in hands and ideas
about giving the Colonel a service of gold plate. Col.
Bruen declined to accept any personal favour. Just then
he was building a private church in his demesne in the
form of a Greek temple, so he suggested that the money be
devoted to erecting a free church for the use and benefit
of Carlow parish. To this end he donated the field next
Kelvin Grove. A meeting of subscribers was held at
Morrison's Hotel, Dublin, on 6th May 1842, and the
project was approved. But even in those days £2,000 was
too little to complete such a project.
Two years later the Carlow Sentinel of
July 13th 1844, wrote that as not half the congregation
could find places in the parish church. The Bruen
Testimonial Committee should bestir themselves and take
steps to build. Colonel Bruen responded by promising to
make good the difference between the £2,000 and the cost
of the completed church. Joyce, wife of John McDuff
Derrick, the London architect, laid the stone forming
portion of the east jamb of the south of the chancel on
May, 21st. 1852. The stone contained a scroll and coins
of the realm. When found during the demolition of the
church in 1926 the scroll was handed to the late
Archdeacon Ridgeway and is preserved in St. Mary's Vestry.
The fate of the coins is not recorded.
The church, a gem of Gothic
architecture, had been closed for worship owing to the
lack of a congregation. In 1926 it was purchased by the
late Very Rev, James Fogarty, P. P. Graiguecullen,
taken down stone for stone and re-erected in
Graiguecullen on what once was Haughton property. It
still lacks its spire, the stone of which are awaiting a
propitious time for erection. Both at the taking down and
the erection of the church a steeplejack was killed.
Col. Bruen was an antiquarian,
and though a staunch Conservative he voted in 1829 for
the Catholic Relief Act.
St Clare's, Graiguecullen was
originally A Church of Ireland Church on the Athy road. Thomas Thompson
and Sons engineering works got the contract to dismantle it and re-erect
it in Graiguecullen
- St Anne's Wall. Athy Road opposite St
Dympna's, The picture is taken looking towards Carlow.
- The wall is all that remains of the former St
Anne's Church (Church of Ireland) on the Athy Road. It was not used
very often and was purchased by the Roman Catholic Parish of Graigue,
was dismantled and re-erected across the River Barrow on its present
site beside the Poor Clare Monastery and named St. Clare’s (Roman
Catholic Church), It was originally built in 1852 by John Derrick, and
moved by Thomas Thompson & Son Ltd, of Carlow.
- Donated by "Carloman"
Note : "Carloman"
The story goes that an engineer
advised that the ground on which the church was to be
built was not capable of taking the weight of the steeple
and therefore it was not erected. The stones of the
steeple remained stored in the chapel yard until the
renovations in the 1960s when they "vanished".
anecdote about St. Anne's Church is gleaned from the
files of The Nationalist & Leinster Times-for 1889:-
(Reference Carloviana (The Journal of The Old Carlow
Society) 1985/86 Page 15) Note 1. (The author of this
piece is not mentioned in Carloviana)
The Bruen testimonial church is
pronounced by all competent authorities to be one of the
most perfect pieces of architecture in Ireland, and few
know the first sermon preached within its walls was by
the late Cardinal McCabe when he was P.P. of Francis
At the time the church was
finished, but not dedicated, Father McCabe was in Carlow
marrying a near and dear friend of his. After the
ceremony he wished to see the public buildings of the
A few friends undertook to be
his guides. He praised some of the buildings very much,
but the new church as it was then called, delighted him,
after a very careful inspection of the entire building,
he got into the pulpit, and no sooner was he there than
his guides became seated, he took the hint, and for
fifteen minutes "delivered one of the nicest
discourses ever listened to".
II. Note: A very fine interior
photograph accompanies this article with the caption
"Interior of St. Anne's Church, Athy Road, Carlow,
which was erected to commemorate the victory of Colonel
Henry Bruen in the Parliamentary Election of 1841".
(See Carloviana 1963). The photograph was presented to
County Carlow Museum in memory of John and Amy Fitzroy,
Court View, Carlow."
III. Note: Mr Bruen was at the
time of the election building a family mausoleum in his
grounds at Oakpark and re directed the finances towards
St Anne's Church. The mausoleum remains incomplete and is
mentioned in "The Carlow Gentry"
IV. Note: Refer to the
description of the last interment at the Mausoleum (1969)
in "The Carlow Gentry" by Jimmy O'Toole (Page
50) ISBN 0 9522544 0 9
V. Note: St Anne's was an
Anglican Church at this time. It later was moved stone by
stone across the river Barrow to become St. Clare's Roman
Catholic Church in Graiguecullen.
Ned Walker who lived on Maryborough Road, Graiguecullen worked on
the moving of St Ann's church across the Barrow to become St Clare's
church. He also worked as a store-man in Thompson's and was a keen
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