St Michaels Rathmolyon
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Church of St. Michael the Archangel, Rathmolyon

St. Michael's Church,RathmolyonSt. Michael's Church,Rathmolyon 

On May 28, 1945, Most Rev. Dr. John D’Alton, Bishop of Meath, on his visit to the parish of Kill and Jordanstown for the administration of the Sacrament of Confirmation in Kill Chapel, said that in the future a new church would be needed.  He stated that whilst the present church was still in a good state of repair, it was not one on which money should be spent.  He recommended that a fund be started for a new church and he personally opened the account with a contribution of £100.

 

The parish priest, Fr. Eugene Daly put the proposal of a new church to the parishioners in both Kill and Jordanstown and received an enthusiastic response.  It was agreed that a five-year collection plan be adopted.  Many people gave an immediate subscription and others adopted a five-year instalment plan.  By the time a Confirmation ceremony was again held in the parish on April 23, 1948, a sum of £5,800 had been subscribed.

 

The fund raising efforts, which included wheel of fortune, sales of work and concerts, continued for many years.  Fr. Thomas F. Gillooly, C.C. and Fr. Patrick Dillon, P.P. were to the forefront of the campaigns and Fr. Joseph Casey, P.P. bequeathed personal money and the proceeds from the sale of his possessions after his death, to the church building fund.  Other priests were involved in running bingo and dances to raise funds.  A special church envelope collection put in place in the early 1960s was a great success and brought in about £5,000 annually. 

 


Phil Fitzsimons who died on March 14, 1962, bequeathed his house and garden at Cherryvalley, to St. Finian’s Trust, with the intention that the area be used as the site for the new church.  The property remained in Church hands until October 21, 1971 when it was sold to Thomas and Olive Doherty.  A site closer to the centre of greater population in Rathmolyon village was preferred to the more rural area near Kill.  In 1966, Elizabeth Sweeny and her daughter, Ann Sweeny, Cherryvalley, donated a site on the main Rathmolyon-Ballivor road, for the building of a church, a parochial house and for the development of a car park.  Fr. Gillooly had previously used the field on many occasions for the holding of a fete to raise parish funds.  On April 29, 1966, when Most Rev. Dr. John Kyne, Bishop of Meath visited the parish for the Sacrament of Confirmation, Fr. Patrick F. Abbott, P.P. took him to see the site.

 

The architect engaged was Simon Leonard F.R.I.A.I. of Messrs. W.H. Byrne and Son, Dublin.  The quantity surveyors were Leonard and Williams, Dublin and the building contractors were Messrs. Cormac Murray (Building) Ltd., Ardsallagh, Navan.  Work began on September 4, 1966, and on October 4, the first bag of cement was used. 

Rathmolyon Church at time of buildingRathmolyon Church at time of building

On July 9, 1967, Monsignor Laurence Lenehan, Tullamore, Vicar Capitular, assisted by Fr. Abbott blessed the site of the altar and blessed and laid the foundation stone.  The inscription on the stone reads:

D.O.M

Foundation Stone

St. Michaels Church Rathmolyon

Blessed and laid by Right Rev.

Foundation StoneFoundation StoneMgr. Laurence Lenehan Vic. Cap.

9th July 1967

assisted by V. Rev. P. F. Abbott P.P.

 

 

Patsy Farrell, Rathmolyon, presented the trowel used for the laying of the foundation stone.  A glass container placed in a hollow in the stone contained medals, a relic of Blessed Oliver Plunkett, a set of 1967 Irish coins and a brief history of the parish and of the building of the church.

 


Most Rev Dr. John McCormack at dedication of St. Michael's Church, Rathmolyon, 1968Most Rev Dr. John McCormack at dedication of St. Michael's Church, Rathmolyon, 1968

On completion of the building work, the sacred vessels, holy water fonts, baptismal font and some statues from the old chapel in Kill were brought to the new church.  On Sunday, July 14, 1968, Most Rev. Dr. John McCormack, Bishop of Meath came to Rathmolyon to bless and dedicate the new church to St. Michael the Archangel.  On arrival, Fr. Abbott and Commandant C. Stapleton, D Company, 7th Battalion, FCA escorted him to the church grounds, where he inspected a guard of honour from D Company under Lieutenant Patrick Clarke, Longwood.  He then solemnly blessed the new building.  This was Dr. McCormack’s first such function since his consecration the previous March.  Fr. Gillooly, a former curate and Fr. P.J. Regan, a native of the parish, assisted in the dedication ceremony.  Fr. Joseph Abbott, Administrator, Navan and Fr. Michael Deegan, a former curate led the chanting of the Liturgy of the Saints.  Along with seven priests, the bishop concelebrated Solemn High Mass.  Servers included Paddy Forde (Kill) and John Brady (Riverdale, Rathmolyon), who also carried the cross at the head of the entrance procession.  The priests included former curates, Fr. Gillooly, Fr. Deegan, Fr. Aidan Farrell and Fr. Edward Rispin, and priests native to the parish, Fr. Regan, Fr. Leonard Moran and Fr. Sean Slattery.  Fr. Colm Murtagh, parish curate acted as master of ceremonies and Fr. Regan delivered the sermon.  Following the ceremony, the Legion of Mary served refreshments in Rathmolyon Hall, which had been placed at the disposal of Fr. Abbott by the Church of Ireland community. 

 

 

 

Interior of St. Michael's Church, RathmolyonInterior of St. Michael's Church, Rathmolyon

The total cost of the church was between £60,000 and £70,000 but resulted in no serious debt, as parish funds that had been collected for over twenty years, almost covered the cost. 

 

The church may be described as a long, low-pitched building, one hundred and seventeen feet long, sixty-seven feet wide and twenty-seven feet high.  The exterior walls are finished in white dashing and the copper-covered roof is surmounted at the front with a slender golden cross.  The almost square-shaped nave is a break from the traditional cruciform or aisle churches.  The layout of the large sanctuary is in keeping with modern liturgical requirements and this is the only church in the parish to be customarily built to meet post-Vatican II standards.  The ceiling is of an unusual concertina or saw-tooth shaped design and is treated with a special spray material to give the best possible acoustical properties to the nave.

 


To the front of the building are the two main entrance porches and a baptistery, with a choir gallery overhead.  In addition, there is a side porch and to the rear of the church are a priests’ sacristy, servers’ sacristy, toilets and a storeroom.  The two recessed confessionals are confined to one side of the church and are of polished hardwood, with slender glazed door panels.

 

The sanctuary windows, which rise from floor to ceiling, highlight the altar furnishings. Stained Glass Window St. Michael's Church, RathmolyonStained Glass Window St. Michael's Church, Rathmolyon A large stained glass window depicting the Godhead and the saving of the world through Baptism and the Holy Spirit dominates the main entrance.  The sidewalls incorporate panels of stained glass windows. 

 

The inclusion in the design of three rows of seating means that no person is more than sixty feet from the sanctuary.  The rows are divided by two aisles that run the entire length of the church and access to the seats is also provided by two side aisles.  The seating capacity of six hundred nearly doubles that of the old chapel at Kill. 

 

On September 20, 1968, Dr. McCormack revisited the church to consecrate the altar and offer Mass for the deceased members of the parish.  Stations of the Cross plaques were blessed and erected but the figures for them did not arrive from Italy until three months later, when on Christmas Eve, local men Patrick Broderick and James Dunne placed them in position.  The old bell from Kill Chapel had been erected in a specially built tower in the church grounds but due to problems with its audibility, an electric carillon was installed in July 1978.

 

 

Today, the church is in excellent repair.  Its presence is due to the foresight of the bishop of the diocese and the clergy of the parish, and to the generosity of the people.  It has earned its place in their hearts and their care of it is testimony to this.

Altar in St. Michael's Church, RathmolyonAltar in St. Michael's Church, Rathmolyon

 

 

Sources:

The Meath Chronicle, July 13, 1968.

The Irish Independent, Monday, July 15, 1968.

The Irish Press, Monday, July 15, 1968.

The Drogheda Independent, July 19, 1968, p. 1.

The Meath Chronicle, Saturday, July 20, 1968, p. 1.

The Meath Chronicle, Saturday, July 27, 1968, p. 12.

Chronicon of Enfield Parish.

Conversations with local people, whose names are included under Acknowledgement to contributors.