SOME ROUGH NOTES ON THE RENOVATION OF THE CHURCH OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST, KILBRIN 1962-'63
From the diary of Fr. Patrick Murnane
Parish Priest, Canon O’Callaghan, informed me on September 8th,’62, that he had been in Cobh and the contract for the Church had been given to Dalys, Tullylease. (The architects, of course, were Sheehans, Limerick. Sheehan, senior had the reputation of being very gifted in regard to restoration work.)
A load of sand deposited in front of the main Church door on September 12th.
Found a man hacking at the rear wall of the Church on September 15th. By this time some scaffolding has been erected.
September 16th. P.P. and self asked people to donate the new windows. I asked also that the Confessionals be presented.
September 22nd Young Mr.Sheehan, architect, arrived. Contract signed.
September 24th Church cleared of furniture. Much of it moved to the hall. Some put in a house belonging to Mr.J.O’Riordan. Mr.J.Dunne put the Stations of the Cross in his loft. About 5 tractors and trailers in use. About 40 to 50 men turned up to help.
September 26th. When taking down the belfry, Mr.D.Daly was hit on the head by the Celtic Cross on top. Not seriously injured, thank God.
Celebrating ordinary morning Mass in the sacristy at this time. Celebrated first Sunday Masses in the hall on September 30th.
Work on the roof proceeded during October in very favourable weather. The 2nd Vatican Council opened on October 11th. Mass in the hall that morning at 9.00 a.m. About sixty present. This was also the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Both Sheehan architects arrived on October 19th. At that meeting it seems to have been decided to keep the dado and simply to plaster the walls inside. Later, of course, it was decided to batten the walls. The Canon was very nervous about this for he feared cracking later. However, the damp was really pretty bad. It was decided radically to alter the rear inside. The mortuary was to be eliminated and the stairs altered. The old narthex screen would go also. The stained—glass windows would be removed soon. (The Church was very dark at the sanctuary end.) It was finally decided to clear and point the stonework on the side wall facing the road.
P.P. spoke of parish debt being about £10,000 to the people. October 21st.
November 10th. 3 men from Newmarket pointing the stone. Principal of these a Mr.Browne.
November 19th. Ceiling being knocked down. Sacristy and end wall of Church being plastered. (There were usually something like 6 or 7 men working, sometimes less, hardly ever more than about 10.)
The main roof of the Church was practically finished by November 22nd. The roofing of the sacristy was starting.
November 28th. Architects here. Decided to slab the inner walls. Decided to bring out the dado and recess radiators and pipes. Decided to put up a soft-board ceiling. Decided to concrete sacristy floor and tile priests’ part and to put a new ceiling there if necessary. There had been some idea that there was a tomb under the floor of the sacristy. There wasn’t. The sacristy floor, joists and all, was very rotten.
December 10th. P.P. agreed to largely new roof and new ceiling for sacristy. An addition to the contract.
December 22nd. Work stopped in Church, for a considerable time as it turned out.
CRIB in hall. Signs of cold spell beginning. Door collection Christmas Day easily the biggest ever - over £14.00.
December 27th. Frost and ice really taking over. Snow began on 30th, continued on 31st. Water from melting snow falling into hall. Altar moved to side. New Year’s Day: Holiday of obligation. No cars at either Mass. A tractor at each. About half the usual number present.
February 6th,1963, Mr.Daly and three men return to Church to work for the first time since before Christmas. Ice, snow and frost has been going on all the time, with the odd thaw for a day or two.
Crowd around a TV set in the window of a shop. February 9th. Tullylease drowning tragedy in Cork, February 16th.
Good Friday, April 12th. Ground covered with snow. Did not last long. Work going on apace on church all this time.
Meeting with P.P. to arrange for digging up of walk into Church by voluntary labour on June 7th. Work began on June 10th and continued all that week. Between four and eight men there each time. The purpose was to lower the level of the passage to relate it better to the level of the Church floor. Fitzpatricks attended to further work.
Mr.J.Dunne took away the two statues in truck on September 13th. I presume this was to have them repainted etc.
State Glass Co. attended to windows.
September 15th. Last draw of Silver Circle, Diocesan Purposes Collection came to £50.
October 7th. Interior varnishing, painting going on.
October 10th. Tarmacadam being laid down on drive into Church.
October 22nd. Mr.John J.O’Riordan delivered back the Church seats he had stored.
Seats delivered back from hall to Church.c.2.00p.m. to c. 5.00 p.m. Two tractors and trailers from Mr.P.Lynch and Mr.M.Field, respectively. Plenty of men helping.
October 26th, Confessions heard in Church again. Two sessions c.75 there. Newly decorated statues arrived back c.4.30 p.m. A very rushed day, for vestments, cloths etc., had all to be brought back. Dave Daly sweeping up as people came for Confession.
Canon O’Callaghan celebrated the first Mass in the reopened Church at 8.30 a.m. Feast of Christ the King. Exposition.
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