The following is an account given Mr Vincent Gallagher, Architect, who has kindly written the account below, from memory, of the massive building projectin the 1960s which has left us such a beautiful Parish Church in Killererin . Mr Gallagher also advisedon the further work carried out in 1997.
Some time after the consecration of the Church in Clonfad, in the island parish of Moore, His Grace Archbishop Joseph Walsh phoned me and suggested I call to meet the Parish Priest of Killererin as he was contemplating re-building his Church. Some time later I had the pleasure and privilege of meeting the V.Rev. Father Michael Burke, one of Nature’s great gentlemen.
After several consultations, the design was agreed and Plans prepared. Desmond McGreevey of Dublin, was appointed Quantity Surveyor. Bills of Quantities were prepared, and estimates invited. Resulting from competitive tendering, Messrs. Farragher of Tuam were appointed as Building Contractors and a Mr. O’Hagan of that firm (an ex Co. Down G.A.A. footballer), took charge of the Contract.
Old walls and foundations re-built
The old walls were carefully examined, as were the foundations under them, and to a great degree, they were re-laid and re-built. At eaves level, a continuous reinforced concrete beam was cast, and incorporated with the eaves projection and gutters. The latter were then coated with asphalt. The roof was supported on steel portal frames and purloins, with timber Rafters and Killaloe, (Co Clare) Slates. The ceiling was finished in T and G. sheeting. Both the fleche (tower) and other structural steelwork was fabricated and erected by Messrs J & C. Mc.Gloughlin, Pearse Street, Dublin.
Concrete blocks made on site
In those days all concrete required for the building was mixed on site, and the concrete blocks used in building up the walls were also made on site. This required the continuous testing of the aggregate used and the finished concrete for quality. The reveals to the windows were designed for direct glazing and cast by the Contractor in fair-faced concrete, with a fine granite chipping in the aggregate. Externally the walls were finished in three coats of plaster. For the final coat, white Ennis Spar Chippings dashed on. The inner wall surfaces received three layers of Greycoat Plaster. The windows were made and glazed by the Dublin Glass and Paint Co.
All joinery made by contractors
All the joinery in doors, frames, confessionals and cupboards were formed from hardwood and made by the contractors. As this work was carried out in pre-Vatican II days, the altar and other sanctuary fittings were in the Tridentine tradition. Harry Alwright of Alwright & Marshall, Fade Street, Dublin refurbished the Tabernacle and made the new tabernacle door etc. Owen Walsh, a Westport man, had just been awarded the European Art Scholarship. I requested him to submit designs for the stained glass windows and the Stations of the Cross. Fr. Burke accepted these and Owen was commissioned to carry out the works.
Stations of the Cross & Church Bell
From memory, I believe the Stations cost £750, plus the stained glass windows – probably£1200. The Rev. client was greatly pleased with these works. To prolong the quality of workmanship in the Stations, he had the Stations taken down, glazed and re-hung. Just prior to this the new Church at Williamstown was built, the free standing bell in use at the old church became redundant. Fr. Burke bought this – I believe for £100 – andhad it re-erected in the churchyard. Several of the old plaster statues were painted and re-erected under canopies in the grounds. The sacristy and porches are new structures and are roofed in copper.
Cost of Project
The entire project cost less the £20,000, and my fees were approx £1,000. The present day cost would be in the region of ¬ 1.5m. The church was blessed by His Grace Dr Walsh, the Archbishop, and in his homily he referred to the finished job as “the jewel of the Archdiocese”. I am sure a more detailed account could be written – but after a lapse of some fifty years, my memory has become faint.
Vincent B Gallagher, Architect, KCSG, KCHS,