2010-11-09

Church of the Immaculate Conception c1915


Looking South below Church View, on Parochial House grounds. | fullsize
[Image taken from a giant card print by Gray and Sons c1915.]


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  • Site: Five acres (approximately), purchased in 1870, from the estate of Captain Fitzmaurice, R.M.
    cost £1,100.
  • Foundation stone: 9 Nov 1890 -
    laid by Most Rev Dr O'Doherty, Lord Bishop of Derry.
  • Dedicated Sunday 15 Sept 1895:
    by Most Rev Dr O'Doherty, Lord Bishop of Derry.
  • Parish Priest: Very Rev. Hugh O'Hagan
  • Caretaker (1901): Annie Timoney
Architecture

  • Architect: William Hague
  • Builder & Contractor: Robert Collen
    Church Street, Portadown
  • Altars: James Pearse
    (see below: General Irish History)
    Ecclesiastical & Architectural Sculptor
    27 Great Brunswick Street, Dublin
    cost £1150
  • Marble Communion Rail
    (see photo below): also James Pearse
    cost £245
  • Baptismal Font: Probably James Pearse.
    Installed after the dedication.
  • Stations of the Cross: Mayer & Co, Munich
    149 New BondStreet
    Royal Bavarian Establishment, London
    Installed after the dedication.
    cost £235 0 0
  • Stained Glass: Mayer & Co, Munich
    These windows were installed between 1905-1922. They are the current windows on the Church today (2010).
  • Bell: Byrne’s Fountain Head Bell Foundry and Engineering Works
    James’ Street, Dublin
    cost £236  9  3
  • Total Cost: £18,00. Paid in full by the date of the dedication.
Financial contributors

  • Fr John Mc Elhatton who spent 2 years raising funds mainly in America.
    Later became Parish Priest of Urney i.e. Melmount and is buried in the graveyard near the main gate.
  • Very Rev. Hugh O'Hagan
  • James Kennedy, Barrack Street Shirt Factory
  • Mrs Browne, Castle Street
    Paid for the Altars £1,150
    Paid for Sanctuary Lamp Holder £50
  • Edward Gallagher
    Stations of the Cross £235
    (see News Paper Article below)
  • See the Strabane in 1895 document below for a more extensive list.

The Church of the Immaculate Conception was built to replace the poorly constructed Chapel of St John, Townends Street. Towards the latter half of the 19th century, Saint John's Chapel was so dilapidated that parishioners made use of the small Convent Chapel, until the new Church opened on Barrack Street. The new building was far removed from the impoverished appearance of Saint John's. The then recently opened Church of Ireland Christ Church building (1879) in the Bowling Green, probably influenced this lavish new design.

Church Timeline:
  • 1870: The site for the Church of the Immaculate Conception is purchased from the estate of Captain Fitzmaurice, R.M. The land contains approximatley five acres and costs £1,100.
Quote from Mr Curlyhill: - This location had been known as "Snodgrass" or "Buchanan's Field".
  • 1890 9 Nov: Most Rev Dr O'Doherty, Lord Bishop of Derry lays the Foundation Stone of the Immaculate Conception.
    Similar to the recent discovery at Derry Guildhall:
    "In the hollow in the centre of the foundation stone was placed a bottle containing a number of coins and copies of several newspapers, including the Derry Journal and the Freeman's Journal."
  • 1895 15 Sept: Church of the Immaculate Conception is dedicated by the Most Rev. Dr. O'Doherty, Lord Bishop of Derry. Cardinal Logue, The Catholic Primate of All Ireland attends the ceremony.
    The total cost of building with furnishings was £18,000. The sum was paid in full by the date of the dedication; with enough money left over to pay for the construction of the Parochial House.
 

    Original interior viewed from the choir gallery. Church, Immaculate Conception | fullsize
    The current stained glass windows were added sometime between 1905-1922 and were designed by Mayer & Co, Munich
    [Photo from Mr Curlyhill]



    Original altar (James Pearse). Church, Immaculate Conception. | fullsize
    The altar rails (also made by James Pearse) were removed during the 1970s.
    [The painting on the wall is a copy of the Madonna di San Sisto by Raphael]
    [Photo from Mr Curlyhill]



    From the other side: Northwest from Barrack Street School 1956. Grays, postcard . | fullsize
    [Photo from Mr Curlyhill]


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    Newspaper Article:
    24 April 1896: New Zealand Tablet, Volume XXIII, Issue 52 [See Tyrone section]
    Mr Curlyhill's corrections and additional information relating to the newspaper article:
    • The dedication was on Sunday, September 15, 1895 (not October), and was in the presence of Cardinal Logue, The Catholic Primate of All Ireland. However, it was the Most Rev. Dr. O'Doherty, Lord Bishop of Derry who dedicated the church.
    General Irish History:
    James Pearse (Ecclesiastical & Architectural Sculptor) was the father of Patrick Pearse, the leader of the Rising in Dublin in 1916, and his brother William, both of whom were executed.

    Related Documents:
    1 Christianity and Catholicism in Strabane before 1895
    2 Strabane in 1895
    3 Possible Site: George Fitzmaurice - John Snodgrass.
    Griffiths Valuation 1858 - Page 82 [or Page 87] Map c1850

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