History of St. Joseph’s Church Glenealy


Extract from “The Irish Builder” – 1 November 1868

We give, as our illustration for this number, two views of the new Catholic Church in the process of erection at Glenealy, Co. Wicklow, for the Very Rev. Dr. O’Carroll, P.P. Ashford, from the designs of Messrs. Pugin and Ashlin of Dublin.  The church, as will be seen, consists of nave, transepts, chancel and sacristy.  The nave is divided from the transepts on each side by two arches, with marble shaft and limestone caps and bases.  The roof of the nave will be open-timbered, sheeted on the lower edge of rafter with three-quarter St. John’s battens.  The chancel roof will be plastered to receive future decoration.

The works are being carried out under the direction of the architects by a Resident Clerk of Works.   The dressings of the church, doors, windows, strings, gable-moulds, etc, are of chiselled granite, and are being executed in a very superior manner Mr. Mr. John Brady, of the Ballyknocken Granite Quarries.


Extract from “The Freeman’s Journal” – 5 October 1869

Yesterday this beautiful Gothic church was solemnly dedicated to the worship of God, in the presence of a crowded congregation.   The new sacred edifice, which was commenced about two years since, through the zeal and devotion of the Rev. Dr. O’Carroll, the venerated pastor of the parish, is situated in the midst of a lovely county and near the old, dilapidated chapel in which Catholic worship was solemnised for years.   The new church speaks of the present time, when religious equality has been established, and the efficacy of the voluntary system.   The church, which was handed over this day as the work of man’s hands as a solemn offering to God, was built from its foundation by the free and generous offerings of the people; and what a lesson did it teach as it stood in beautiful contrast with the old chapel, which spoke of persecution and oppression for conscience sake, and an order of things based on an odious, insulting and aggressive ascendancy now passed away forever.

The new church of St. Joseph is a charming specimen of a Gothic structure of its class.  It has been built from designs furnished by Mr. Ashlin, and consists of nave, transepts, choir and sanctuary.   The roof is of open woodwork, and the chancel terminates in a circular apse pierced by a number of elegantly designed Gothic windows.   The altar, tabernacle and altar furniture are very beautiful and in perfect keeping with the general characteristics of the sacred edifice.

At eleven o’clock, when the ceremonies were to commence, the church was crowded by a congregation assembled from all parts of the extensive parish, who had come to take part in a great work in which was illustrated the indestructibility of the national faith and the zeal, devotion and reverence of the people.   In the very centre of a lonely, mountain district, where the immediate friends, disciples, and followers of St. Patrick preached and founded the Catholic religion, and wherein after time the people were deprived of the places of worship, and denied even the right to worship God according to the dictates of their conscience, things were now happily changed, and the ceremonies of yesterday were only one of many similar to follow, to show the folly and the crime of persecution for the promotion of a form of religion that never took root in the heart or the affectation of the nation.

The ceremony of dedication commenced at eleven of clock, the prelate celebrant being the Most Rev. Dr. Whelan, Lord Bishop of Bombay.   Amongst the clergy present were – The Rev. D. O’Carroll, P.P., the Very Rev. Canon Rooney, P.P., the Very Rev. Canon Farrell, the Very Rev. Canon Lee, P.P., the Very Rev. Canon Roche, P.P., the Rev. T. O’Reilly, the Rev. N. Donnelly, the Rev. Dr. McManus, the Rev. J. McSwiggan, the Very Rev. T. Burke, O.P., the Rev. J. Hanley, P.P., the Rev. R. Galvin, P.P., the Rev. J. O’Sullivan, C.C., the Rev. G. Warren, C.C., the Rev. G. Quaile, the Rev. M. Collier, P.P., the Rev. E. Clarke, P.P., Rev. T. Anderson, the Rev. E. Rowan, Rev. P. Seagrave, P.P., etc. A procession having been formed issued from the sacristy and proceeded round the exterior of the church chanting the Psalms prescribed by the ritual.   The procession then entered the sacred edifice, and proceeded to the sanctuary where the Litany of the Saints was chanted and the celebrating prelates solemnly dedicated the church to the service of God, under the invocation of St. Joseph.

After the ceremony of dedication, High Mass, Coram Pontifice, was celebrated, at which the Bishop of Bombay presided.   The celebrant of the High Mass was the Rev. J. Healy, P.P., Little Bray, assisted by the Rev. E. Quaile and the Rev. T. Anderson, as deacons, and the Rev. J. McSwiggan, master of ceremonies.   The sacred music was sung admirably by a number of the most distinguished amateurs in Dublin, Mr. McDermott presiding at the harmonium.   The selections were as follows :- “Kyrie” (Gounod); “Gloria” (Gounod); Graduale – “Elevair ourlos” (Mendelssohn); Offertory- “Tue seis delicta” (Rinck); “Sanctus” (Gounod); “O Salutaris” (Gounod); “Agnus Dei” (Haaslinger); Solo- “Ecce Deus” (Hulich); Solo- “O Salutaris” (Cherubini); “Tantum Ergo” (E.H.).

After the first Gospel, the Very Rev. T. Burke, O.P., ascended the altar platform and delivered a magnificent discourse, taking the following passage from the Psalms as his text- “Because of the house of the Lord our God I have sought all manner of good things for thee, O Jerusalem”.    The preacher opened by describing the character of David, the man, according to the heart of God, enlarging on the fervent zeal of the prophet for the house of the Lord, and his ardent desire to build the temple.  He then pointed out the same spirit of zeal for the house of God in our Divine Lord, the Son of David.   The spirit which animated the Royal Prophet and devoured the loving heart of Our Lord, was also from the beginning of the leading features of the Catholic Church, and a countersign of her divine life and origin.   This he illustrated from the Church’s history, from the beginning of her days in the Catacombs up to the present hour.

The explanation for all this is easily discovered if we consider the high and holy purposes for which the Catholic Church builds and dedicates her temples.   These purposes are to meet the highest requirements of God and the first necessities of man.   God wishes to perpetuate His presence on earth and to continue His work of redemption and sanctification by abiding forever in the midst of His people.   Hence arises the necessity that we should provide Him with a fitting dwelling, and so wipe away the reproach of old- “The foxes have their holes and the birds of the air have their nests, but the Son of Man hath not whereon to lay His head”.   The church which we dedicate today provides, moreover, for the first necessities of man.   These are faith and divine grace.

The preacher went on to show how these two great wants of man were both supplied in the Catholic Church by the sacraments, and wound up by alluding to the beauty of the new church and to the earnest and self-sacrificing zeal of the pastor, the Very Rev. Dr. O’Carroll, who had so successfully accomplished his arduous but grateful task.   The eloquent and distinguished preacher descended from the altar amidst the blessings of the entire congregation.  The ceremonies terminated with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, at which the Lord Bishop of Bombay officiated; and thus terminated a most edifying ceremony which transferred the offering of a grateful people to the worship and glory of God.