1868 – Ardragh Church of Ireland, Co. Monaghan

Architect: Slater & Carpenter


Designed by Richard Herbert Carpenter and William Slater of London who afterward also produced plans to extend St. Finbarr’s church in Carrickmacross. The interior featured a great deal of local alabaster as decoration. Unfortunately the dampness of the church in more recent times led to major deterioration in the alabaster work which was stripped from the walls. There is also alabaster work in the pulpit and font.

“Slater’s design for Ardragh is relatively simple. A short, four-bay gabled hall with a bell cote over the gable front and a polygonal apse at the east end with an ashlar roof, perfectly formed like a miniature baptistery. The four drop arched lancets of the nave are framed between off-set buttresses which continue around the chancel. The stonework throughout is of exceptional quality with small squared blocks of rock-faced limestone, quarried locally at Carrickalim, contrasted with the pink hues of the freestone from Lough Fea demesne. When the carpenter George Thomson wrote to Evelyn Shirley on May 16th 1866, about Ardragh, he explained some of the difficulties in obtaining the materials for the building: The stones from the rubble quarry will not chop or dress for the outside in a proper way but we have found another quarry about half way between Corvalley and Carrickmaclim that we hope will do well.” (PRONI, Shirley Papers D/3531/E/1)

“St. Patrick’s Church at Ardragh is picturesquely sited on an eminence in a grove of beech trees at Corvalley in rural countryside between Carrickmacross and Shercock. Solid and well-built in a simple Gothic style, this perfect small church was conceived by Evelyn Philip Shirley of Lough Fea, ultimately for a new parish to be formed on 4th February 1868, but also in part as a mortuary chapel for the Shirley family. Designed in 1866 by the important, London-based architect, William Slater, the first stone was laid on Thursday, 23rd November 1865 by Sewallis, Evelyn Shirley’s only son.” Dublin Builder, 1 December 1865.

“St. Patrick’s, Ardragh, County Monaghan. This church, or rather part of a church, has just been consecrated, and has been built by Mr. E.P. Shirley, from Messrs. Slater & Carpenter’s designs. It is a simple oblong building, with an apsidal sanctuary opening out of it by an arch at the east end. The whole is to form the chancel of a much larger church, but for the present it will be used for the parishioners. It is four bays in length, and has lancets moulded on the inside. The chancel arch is built up in the west wall, and encloses a traceried rose-window, with a temporary door and porch under. The roof is of timber, with arched principals. The sanctuary is apsidal, with a moulded lancet in each side. The roof is of solid stone, arched on the inside, and weathered on the outside. The walls are lined with polished alabaster. The floors are of rich tiling. The sanctuary is raised seven steps, the Shirley vault being formed in the crypt below. The windows are all filled with stained glass, by Messrs. Clayton & Bell ; the rose-window illustrating the life of St. Patrick ; the sanctuary windows the Passion of Our Lord. The other windows are of simpler design. The marble work is by Sibthorp, of Dublin, and the builder was Mr. Parks, of Carrickmacross.” The Builder, January 9 1869.

Photograph Copyright and Courtesy of Colin Boyle.