- 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
"... 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.