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Celebrating 200 Years At St Mary’s Church, Carrigaline

St Mary’s Church, Carrigaline is currently celebrating its bicentenary with a wide-ranging year long programme of events to which everyone is invited. Writes Leo McMahon

It began last February and runs until February 7th, 2024, to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the construction and consecration of the much-admired church.

‘The programme of events every month is aimed at showcasing the diversity of talent in the parish’, Rev Canon Elaine Murray told The Carrigdhoun who began by looking ahead to what is coming up this summer and beyond.

A major highlight of the 200th anniversary year, so far, was the Flower Festival in St Mary’s Church over the weekend of July 14th to 16th. The theme was ‘Flowers Through the Ages’. Special guests were a group of 25 from the linked parish of Perton near Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, England, in the Diocese of Lichfield which itself is linked with the Diocese of Cork, Cloyne and Ross. Some of the visitors stayed with host families in the parish.

Members of St. Nicholas Brass Band: Ger Goodwin (Tuba); Alan Campbell (Tuba), Chairperson; Alan Murphy (Euphonium) & Noel Galvin (Conductor), Carrigaline, at the Carrigaline Summer Fete, St. Mary's NS Carrigaline, 24th June 2023. Photo Siobhán Russell

Another popular event is the Family Barbecue in the grounds after 11am Sunday Service in St Mary’s Church on Sunday, August 27th.

On Saturday, September 23rd, there will be a Musical Evening in the church organised by musical director Bebhinn Ni Mheara and followed by refreshments in the hall. At 11am, the following day, it’s the annual Blessing of Animals Service in the church and this year there also be farm animals in the outdoor pen.

On Saturday, October 7th, Henry Forbes and his team are organising a Harvest Supper and Ceilidh in Canon McCrea Hall and everyone is invited.

The same venue will host a Church Bicentenary Play/Pageant about the church on Friday and Saturday, November 24th and 25th organised by Mary Murphy and Olna Trotter of the parish drama group.

December is a busy month beginning on Sunday the 3rd with a charity Tractor Run starting from Carrigaline GAA grounds. Organisers include Philip Whitley, Henry Forbes and Jim Griffin.

On December 15th, there will be a Community Carol Service in the church featuring Carrigaline Singers followed by mulled wine and mince pies in the hall.

Very interesting, said Canon Elaine, will be a Crib Festival commencing after the Carol Service in the hall and running until Sunday, December 17th. A wide variety of Nativity scenes from all over the world will be on view.

The 200th anniversary celebrations continue into 2024 with a major event, the launch on Friday, January 19th in the Parish Hall of a history booklet which will include a special poem written by parishioner and poet Mary Cowhig and a lecture presentation about St Mary’s Church. It will be followed by the raffle of a magnificent painting of same by acclaimed Carrigaline artist Dorothee Roberts which also features on the bicentenary brochure. The church’s silver plate will also be on display.

On Wednesday, February 2024, exactly to the date the church was consecrated in 1823, the Closing Service will take place in St Mary’s where the preacher will be Most Rev John McDowell, Archbishop of Armagh. Bishop Colton and other visiting clergy will be attending. It will include the dedication of the Reredos, an ornamental screen covering the wall at the back of the altar which was salvaged from the near ruined St Paul’s Church in Ballymoney and painstakingly restored by Cecil Poole and William Warren-Perry.

Sarah Foott, Clodagh Bryan & Ruth Mahony: Plant Stall Volunteers, at the Carrigaline Summer Fete, St. Mary's NS Carrigaline, 24th June 2023. Photo Siobhán Russell

The closing service will also feature the dedication of the Parish Bicentenary Patchwork Quilt, an exciting project co-ordinated by Millie Kingston comprising squares from many contributors. Refreshments will follow in the Parish Hall.

Great credit is due to the ‘1823 Committee’ that includes chairperson Lesley Roberts, Canon Elaine Murray, Hilary and William Warren-Perry, Oriel Hosford, Sydney Hutton and Tracey Pierce who have met regularly since late 2022.

Canon Elaine said she was delighted with the input and involvement of some many talented parishioners and the support of wider Carrigaline community.

The year of celebration began with an opening Choral Evensong in St Mary’s on February 7th where the preacher was Rt Rev Dr Paul Colton, Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross. Co-ordinated by Bebhinn Ni Mheara, it included performances by organist Colin Nicholls and Clerks Choral followed by the re-dedication of the renovated Parish Hall and dedication of the Four Gospels Book in memory of the late Vivienne Sharpe.

On February 18th, the Parish Auction in Canon McCrea Hall in St Mary’s School, Waterpark was a complete sell-out with auctioneer and parishioner Stuart Cole doing a sterling job.

Over the weekend of February 24th to 26th, Dr Anne Francis of the Pastoral Care Team at Marymount University Hospital and Hospice, Curraheen, led a wonderful Retreat for the parish in Mount St Anne’s, Co Laois established by the Presentation Sisters. A group of 25 from the parish attended.

Very successful in March was a photo exhibition about St Mary’s Church and environs held in the parish hall with over 200 excellent pictures on display. These can still be viewed until the end of the year, said Canon Elaine.

There’s a long-standing warm relationship between Church of Ireland, Roman Catholic and other worshippers in the Carrigaline area as exemplified by the poignant and well attended Ecumenical Stations of the Cross in St Mary’s Graveyard and church grounds on Good Friday, April 7th. It was originally organised by Canon Elaine and the then parish priest of Carrigaline Fr Pat Fogarty and it’s wonderful that Monsignor Aidan O’Driscoll continues to support the initiative, said the Rector.

The weekend of April 14th to 16th featured a wonderful exhibition of paintings by Dorothee Roberts in the Parish Hall with 25% of all sales going to parish funds.

Sunday, May 14th marked the launch of bespoke bicentennial handmade chocolate bars. It was inspired by Canon Elaine and featured in monochrome a painting of the church by Dorothee Roberts (the original painting will be raffled at the end of the year). The chocolate is produced by O Conaill Chocolate, near neighbours at Church Road, Carrigaline. The customised bars are on sale at the back of the churches in Carrigaline and Monkstown.

On Saturday, June 24th, the eagerly awaited annual Parish Fete and Midsummer Garden Party was held the grounds of St Mary’s School, Waterpark with music from St Nicholas’ Brass Band, Cork.

The afternoon featured barbecue food, bric-a-brac, a toy stall, bouncy castles, games for children, cake and plant sales, strawberries, and cream and much more.

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