Re: Re: reorganisation and destruction of irish catholic churches

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Church decoration in The Holy Trinity -Allen

Does anyone know anything more or have pictures of the interior of this church in Co. Kildare. . The superbly stenciled decoration looks like it might be the work of the Hodgkinsons of limerick.

Church of the Holy Trinity – Allen[/align:1b3x2bmk]

The church still contains a complete decorative scheme in the sanctuary area and, according to Mary McGrath, conservator of fine art, Rosetown Lodge, Newbridge, this is the original decorative scheme dating back to 1868-1870, when the church was built. Intact, original decoration is now quite rare as a result of redecoration over the past 150 years and the changes in the liturgy after Vatican II. This painted decoration is, consequently, significant in a historical context. It is of a very high quality, detailed, complex and carefully designed to enhance the architectural features of the sanctuary, chancel arch and side altars.

The figure of the Holy Trinity, wearing a three-crown mitre[/align:1b3x2bmk]

Decorative schemes were individually tailored for a specific churches, although some design motifs were employed over and over again. The church in Allen has a polygonal apse which required a considerable amount of planning to decorate.

A highly-worked stencil decoration of St Brigid, in the sanctuary[/align:1b3x2bmk]

Stencil decoration was much favoured in the 19th and early 20th century for church decoration. Augustus Welby Pugin (1812-52), an outstanding architect and a convert to Catholicism, formulated a series of designs and colours considered appropriate for church interiors.

Furthermore, a book called the Grammar of Ornament, published in 1856 by Owen Jones, formally outlined what parts of a church should be decorated, and how and why. The basic rule is that decoration should not be used for itself alone – its function is to enhance architectural features.

It can be assumed that the land for the Church of the Holy Trinity in Allen was donated by Sir Gerald George Aylmer succeeded his father as 8th Baron of Donadea in 1816.

The church was designed by J. S. Butler in 1866. This was just a short time after the Great Famine in Ireland when the country was still recovering from that overwhelming natural disaster.

When the Rev. Eugene O’Reilly decided to build a new church in Allen, he appointed John Sterling Butler as architect. Butler was one of the foremost ecclesiastical architects of his time and the catalogue of his works is most impressive – churches, convents, great houses etc. all over Ireland. He was elected Dublin City Architect on 1st October 1866. His works in the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin include:

St Bridget’s Church, Clogherinkoe 1861,
Broadford Church 1862,
Church of St Fintan, Mountrath, Co. Laois 1861,
Church of St Paul, Emo, Co. Laois 1861-1866,
Courtwood Church, Co. Laois 1877,
Raheen Church, Co. Laois 1859,
Mountmellick Convent, Co. Laois 1860,
Parochial house, Portlaoise 1861,
Additions to Clongowes Wood College, Clane 1873.

The cut stone, Gothic Revival church in Allen was put out to tender in June 1866, with the closing date for acceptance of tenders as 12th October 1866. Construction work began in early 1867.

First Mass
The church is built of dressed limestone and has an octagonal spire atop a square tower. It was completed in 1869 at a cost of £4,000 and the first Mass was celebrated in the new church on Easter Sunday 1872.

The cross on the steeple was made locally by Michael Dempsey, blacksmith, the grandfather of Sheila Dooley, Skew Bridge, Allenwood South.

The bell was cast in James’s St Foundry, Dublin, and placed in the Belfry in 1891.

The church was renovated in the 1920s (during the pastorate of Rev. John Kane) with money bequeathed for this purpose by Rev Edward Lawlor. Some minor repair work was carried out on the roof of the church in the early 1960s.

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