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Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

St. Mary's Cross.

Part 4

Rev. Gary Dowd with the cross from St. Mary's Church, which is over 7 ft. high.
 - Photo courtesy Nationalist & Leinster Times

Image by W. Muldowney c2006

St. Mary's Church Cross

DURING an inspection of the spire of St. Mary's Church of Ireland, Carlow, in the summer of 1993, it was found that the cross on top was in need of repair.

The Limerick firm of Treacy Steeplejacks lowered the cross to the ground. An inscription on it reads: "This ball and cross presented by the ladies of the county of Carlow as a mark of their zeal in the erection of the tower and spire of this Protestant Church A.D. MDCCCXXXIII (1833). T. A. Cobden, Arch."

The late Harry Fennell in his history of the church, says Colonel Bruen of Oak Park, who was the local M.P. at the time, placed the cross on the spire, and that he was hoisted up in a bucket by the steeplejacks to perform the ceremony, but was overcome by the height (approx. 210 ft.), he had to be blindfolded before he could be lowered to the ground.

We read another account of Colonel Bruen's ascent of St. Mary's Church steeple in The Nationalist & Leinster Times. An occasional column, "Forgotten Chapters of Local History," appeared in the paper from time to time during its earlier years, the following is a quote from that column which appeared in the issue of December 29,1888.

"... It was a large plain block of building until its fairly good spire was built from design by the same architect as the Cathedral, a namesake and countryman of the Corn Law Repealer, Cobden. I nearly knocked Colonel Bruen off the ladder halfway up about 100 feet from the ground, when I was sliding down and he was going up to fix the bulky cross. I fortunately pulled up in time, and got at the back of the ladder to let him pass. When we were face to face he gave me a good lecture, proving that he was capable of the highest eloquence, although it was said he was no speaker. He was a sterling, honest, honourable man, but a rank Tory..."

The column is signed M. M., which is believed stands for Martin Morris, and there was a  builder named Morris in Carlow.

Source: Carloviana 1993/1994 Edition. p.26

Carlow Heritage Trail

St Mary's Church Blue Plaque

 St. Mary’s Church is located in an area of long standing religious settlements. In the 6th century St. Croneybeg had her religious cell located in this general area. Nearer to Carlow Castle the ancient St. Mary’s Abbey was located.

The present St. Mary’s Church is the third Church of Ireland to have been built on this site. The first appears to have been built in the early 17th century and stood until the early 18th century when the second church was built. The Parish clerk maintained the town clock which was erected in the belfry of the first church. The present church which was completed in the 1830’s was designed by noted nineteen century architect Thomas Cobden, incorporates some of the second church particularly parts of the nave, along with the addition of the spire. The cross was apparently placed on top of the spire by Colonel Bruen of Oak Park. In 1926 the children of the late Mr & Mrs. Browne-Clayton presented the church with a gift of eight tubular bells.

During the early years of the twentieth century the bell of St. Mary’s Church was also used as the fire alarm for the Carlow Volunteer Fire Brigade which operated from the nearby Town Hall.

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