Re: Re: Brother Michael Augustine O’Riordan

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The Church of St. Barrahane, Castlehaven, Co. Cork (1840)

This is a truly interesting little country church with much of its original fittings intact. Noteworthy are the windows which appear to be original and contain much of their original glass.

The church is monocameral with classically rounded windows. It does not appear to have had a ceiling. In many respects, it resembles Ballyhea and to a lesser extent Castletown-Kinneagh.

Remarkably, it sill has its external altar rail, though it has lost its internal altar rail. In a picture of the Ballyhea taken in 1934 in an earlier posting, this feature can also be seen.

The door frames at either side of the altar appear to be original or may have been brought from Skibbereen Cathedral.

The High Altar is the original altar from St. Patrick’s Pro-Cathedral in Skibbereen as are all three pictures hanging on the wall behind the altar. It is possible that the church also had the two votive altars from Skibbereen – the present Volksaltar may indeed have been one of them.

The central picture is a crucifixion painted, I think, by the Cork painter Forde and clearly reflects the work of P.P. Rubens. On the right is St. Patrick -a clear indication of its original provenance – although the church is dedicated to St. Barrahane. On the left is a peculiar version of the Immaculata (possibly also by Forde) whose painter knew something of the canons laid down for the school of Seville by Francesco Pacheo’s Arte de la Pintura which are consistently ignored in the picture.

It is dificult to say whether the church ever had a serliana. Certainly, that which was originally in Skibbereen did not make it out to Castlehaven when the furniture of the original sancturay was dismantled by G.C. Ashlin. Most suspiciously four very fine corinthian colums support a porch before the front-door of one of the houses in the terrace opposite the Pro-Cathedral in Skibbereen and could very well have come from the serliana in the cathedral.

As at Leap, Castlehaven church is badly blighted by an ill-considered car-park that has reduced its cartelage to a wilderness. Plans are posted in the church porch re. planning permission to landscape the present frontage. Praxiteles doubts, however, that planting two yew trees outside the main door will solve the problem of an intrusive car-park.

Praxiteles also finds its lirurgically curious, indeed, eccentric, to re-install the original baptismal font in “an outdoor gazabo”, which, we are told, will afford photo-opportunities for wedings. All this smacks just a little too much of the unsightliness of commercialism copulating with bad taste. Praxiteles also fears that the present incumbent is unaware of the origin of the word “gazabo” and of its muslim connotations.

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