Irish Examiner 18. 09. 1869.
DEDICATION OF ST. PETER’S CHURCH DUNGOURNEY.
This solemn and interesting ceremony was performed yesterday by the Most Rev. Dr. Keane, Bishop of Cloyne, assisted by a number of the clergy of the diocese, in the presence of a vast number of the faithful. Of the similar works which is now one of the most frequent, at the same time that is one of the proudest and most gratifying, duties of the Irish Catholic journalists to chronicle, none is more strikingly indicative of the great zeal of the clergy and laity of this country in the cause of religion than that of which yesterday’s ceremony was the consummation. The parish of which St. Peter’s Church is now the principal house of worship, unites Dungourney with Mogeely and Clonmult, each of the three places having its chapel. That of Dungourney was originally erected half a century ago, but was, like most Catholic edifies of that period of oppression of the very humblest character. When the present zealous and esteemed pastor, the Rev. Thomas Walsh, was appointed to the parish, one of his first undertakings was to save Dungourney Church from total ruin towards which it was hastening. Still the edifice was not as worthy of its holy purpose as the devotion, of pastor and people would have it, and after the lapse of some years, the Rev. Thomas Walsh, readily seconded by his flock, and munificently aided by others interested in the district, though not of his communion, commenced the task of rendering it what it now unquestionably is-an honour to religion and a monument of the living faith of the Catholic people of the parish. Though not directly in its reconstruction, the people of every other part of the parish, with a community of feeling worthy of true Christians generously contributed towards the cost, and the same spirit, surviving the accomplishment of its immediate purpose, assembled yesterday one of the largest assemblages of believers we have for some time beheld, to celebrate the success, which, under Divine blessing, crowned their combined efforts. The parish has also been making vast strides in other pursuits. Religion has been attended by her hand- maiden, Education, in this onward progress, and a remote country parish, as this is, in a not over prosperous part of the country, is now one of the best provided districts, in point of means of secular instruction to be found in the Kingdom. A previous issue of the Examiner said all on this point that need to be stated, and there only remains for us to add, that the statements in the article from our correspondent were yesterday abundantly justified by the exhibition which the schools of the parish made in connection with the ceremonies of the day, Dungourney church is virtually a new structure. Eighteen feet has been added to its length, making it 108 feet in the clear, its height has been proportionally increased, the walls have been in part re-built, and it has been newly roofed. The principal addition is the apse, which opens into the body of the church through a lofty gothic arch of 22 feet span, and the principal feature of this part of the structure is the handsome three-light stained glass window over the high altar already described. Two lesser stained windows, of great beauty, adjoin the side altars of the Blessed Virgin and St. Patrick. The side walls of the church are pierced with ten lancet windows, tastefully filled in with coloured glass and a large Gothic window lights the other end of the church. Over the principal entrance has been erected a handsome and commodious gallery. The roof is of open wood work, stained and supported on corbels, the intervals between the rafters neatly ceiled. The breath of the church is 30 feet. In addition to the porch, which forms the main entrance, a handsome Gothic door-way has been opened in the western wall of the building. A commodious vestry-room occupies the angle formed by the apse and the body of the church, and in the chapel-yard has been built a very comfortable residence for the curate. Some idea of the dimensions of the church may be formed from the fact it accommodates fifteen hundred persons. Mr. Richard Brash is the architect of the building, and the work has been very creditably executed under his direction, by Mr. Barry of Midleton. The site of the church has its special advantages. Standing on elevated ground, it is almost surrounded by trees, and the pretty Dungourney River ripples its pleasant way almost under the church wall. Close by the church is the neat village, a conspicuous ornament of which is the elegant and substantial school house. Such is some general idea of the locality to which yesterday’s morning sun saw many hundreds of well-clad people proceeding, mostly on foot, some in vehicles of different descriptions , from every part of the parish, and even from adjoining parishes. Castlemartyr sent, in addition, its band, whose performances during the day further increased the joyousness of the assembled thousands.
His Lordship, the Bishop, arrived from Fermoy about eleven o’clock, and the ceremonies began immediately after. His Lordship emerged from the vestry-room robed in episcopal vestments-rich cope, mitre and bearing his crozier. A procession of the male and female children of the schools of the parish issued from the Dungourney schoolhouse and accompanied the Bishop and the clergy during the ceremony of dedication. The girls were tastefully attired, mostly in white, wearing veils, and carrying flowers in their hands. In the procession were borne a number of beautiful and appropriate banners, including those of the Sacred Heart, the Blessed Virgin, St. Patrick and St. Peter. The beautiful and impressive ceremony of dedication occupied some time, and on its conclusion High Mass was celebrated. The Bishop presided, and the Rev. Mr. Fielding was high priest; Rev. Mr. O’Connell, deacon; Rev. Mr. Barry, sub deacon; Rev. Mr. Lynch, master of ceremonies. The music of the mass was supplied by a choir of young ladies, improvised for the occasion by Miss O’Brien, who performed on the harmonium with considerable taste and ability.
At the conclusion of High Mass, His Lordship ascended the Altar, and addressed the vast congregation which crowded every part of the sacred edifice, in the following discourse: Beloved brethren, I am very sorry indeed that I am about to address you under some embarrassment, I know the mixed character of the congregation now before me, and I am sorry that while I shall be speaking in English there may be some, if not many, who can scarcely understand what I am saying. I should wish, therefore, to be able to speak to you in Irish, but if I made that attempt a similar, if not a greater difficulty would present itself on the other side, there are so many to whom that language is strange. Permit me, therefore, to speak to you in the English language, on the understanding that I will endeavour to make my words as plain, and as intelligible as I can. I have been asked by your good parish priest to say a few words to you on the present interesting occasion; and I do not know I can commence more appropriately than by quoting for the people of Dungourney, and for the people of neighbouring parishes who may have congregated here, the words used by the Church on very solemn occasions indeed. When celebrating the great mystery of the Resurrection of Our Lord, the Church frequently repeats the words “Hac est dies quam facit Dominus, exultemus et letemur in ea”. I applied the words just mentioned to the present occasion. “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and exult therein”. For, beloved brethren, there is reason to rejoice. The people of Dungourney have reason to rejoice, the people of the parish have reason to rejoice. Let us rejoice then and exult 0n this day which the Lord has made. Being a native of the parish, I remember a good many years ago, when I first heard Mass in the Chapel of Dungourney. Oh, who at that time, looking at its cold walls, at its dilapidated roof, at its damp floor, its cold surroundings-who could have anticipated, a little further back, when the project of building this new chapel, who I say could have anticipated what we now behold.