Creeslough Church Jewel Makes Milestone
ST Michael’s Church in Creeslough will mark a milestone this weekend when she turns fifty on Sunday.
The iconic structure was the fifth in a series of seven churches designed by famous architect Liam McCormick.
The church was built by John Hegarty as a replacement for Doe’s old church. Doe Church was built by Father Bernard Rodan, a native of the parish, in 1784 and rebuilt by Father Peter Gallagher in 1830. It was the oldest church in use in the Diocese of Raphoe and had
served the people of the community for almost two centuries.
The site would have been acquired by the father Ennis Mc Bride, deceased in 1794 and buried in the cemetery of Clondahorkey. Another story goes that the priest was a Franciscan, Father Dominic Curden, who died in 1809 and is buried at Doe Castle. He asked the owner, William
Wray d’Ards, to grant a location for the chapel. Father Dominic was a cousin of Father Rodan. Until then, people had to attend mass at various Mass Rocks – Cashelmore, Creenera, Carnamaddy, Creeslough, Kilmacloo, Gortnalake and Sandhill.
The new church was built near and within sight of Mass Rock at Cashelmore.
The opening of the new church on August 15, 1971 by Bishop Anthony McFeely, Bishop of Raphoe, marked the beginning of a new chapter for the community. Mass was celebrated by Father James Deeney CC and the village was decorated with banners and papal flags for the occasion.
The day the church was packed and the ceremonies were relayed through a public address system to hundreds of people who had to stay outside. When the Bishop arrived, he inspected an honor guard drawn from D Company, 24th Battalion FCA under the command of Lieutenant C Gallagher. Tea, cakes and sandwiches were served for everyone thanks to the late Ms. Mona Gibbons and her “staff” of twenty helpers.
Her brother, Father John Silke, attended the opening of the church that day.
The new church was commissioned by Bishop McFeely who commissioned many churches from McCormick to Donegal.
St Michael’s is considered one of McCormick’s most innovative and impactful commissions.
The design is influenced by Le Corbusier’s Chapel of Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp, France and reflects the hunchbacked shape of Muckish Mountain and integrates it into the rugged landscape.
Father Tommy Doherty played a very important role in building the church and undertook a huge fundraiser. Construction costs exceeded £ 10,000, a very significant amount at the time. Father Doherty ran a fundraising campaign and it was truly a parish effort. He was successful in obtaining loans from other parishes and toured the United States to raise funds for the project. He was joined on the tour by people from Letterkenny including Dan McTeague.
The foreman involved in the project was John Mc Laughlin of Fahan, the works clerk was Cathal Boyd of Toomebridge and the artwork was designed by Helen Moloney, Veronica Rowe, John Behan and Ruth Brandt.
The stained glass windows in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, depicting images from Bible stories, are the work of Helen Moloney. The baptismal font, the cross with “the crown of thorns” to the southeast of the site and the tabernacle were designed by John Behan. The altar tapestry was also designed by Helen Moloney and executed by Veronica Rowe.
The bell from the old church of Doe was reused in the free-standing belfry and some of the slabs were also taken to be placed in the church square.
Fifty years later, this Sunday will mark an important day for the community when first communions will again be held in the church. All celebrations officially marking the fiftieth anniversary have been postponed until next year due to the pandemic.
Pastor of the parish, the Very Reverend Martin Doohan is very impatient to be able to mark the milestone in 2022.
Parish Priest, Father John Joe Duffy said: “I would like to pay tribute to the parish of Clondahorky and in particular to the church district of Cresslough who continued to build the church in this area. They not only took great care of the physical building, but also of the living church by nurturing the faith of the region and passing that faith on from generation to generation. It is beautiful to see so many young people coming to church on Sunday.
“I would like to thank Father Doohan, Father Seamus Murphy, retired priest of the Diocese of Westminster, and the Capuchin Convent of Ards for their contribution to this parish community.
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Posted: 9:54 AM Aug 22, 2021