Earlier this year I became aware that the intrepid, local photography enthusiast, Nora Fealey had been in-spire-d to get into a cage and be propelled up and close to the spire of the Church of Saints Stephen and John during the height of last summer.
During her stay, some 170 feet up, there she took an amazing collection of photographs of the town and surrounding countryside.
If you ever wondered what a bird’s eye view of the town looks like then, this is as close as you’re likely to get.
Nora, kindly, shares her collection with us here. It’s appropriate to publish them now as the church will be the focus of great attention this week as the ‘Castleisland Parish Mission’ gets under way there on Sunday at 7pm
Nora’s photos were taken from near the top of the spire on June 5th-2013.
“Over the last few years, repairs and cleaning has taken place both inside and outside the church. I often thought it would be a shame not to have some photos taken from the top of the church and get a birds eye view of our town.
The last of the cleaning of the spire took place in the summer of 2013 and a hoist was available on the church grounds. With shaking hands and trembling knees I took my camera and headed to the roof of the church and what you see here is the result,” said Nora.
For the week that’s in it some additional information I had to hand mightn’t go astray. The following piece is taken from Divane’s 2000 Calendar and it provides a comprehensive rundown on the history of the church here:
“The new millennium celebrates 2000 years of Christianity. Our church is a magnificent edifice, built of local cut and dressed limestone, a true memorial to the craftsmen of the time. It is the principal church of the Deanery of Castleisland, Ballymacelligott, Brosna, Killeentierna, and Knocknagoshel.
Work commenced on the building of the church in March 1881 with the solemn and auspicious laying of the foundation stone on Thursday 24th. May by the Most Reverend Dr. McCarthy, Bishop of Kerry, in the presence of Archdeacon O’Connell PP. A large number of priests and some thousands of people thronged there from all parts of the parish. Unfortunately during 1882, the building contractors, Butler Brothers went bankrupt and were replaced on 27th. November 1882, by John Sisk and company which added £4,400 pounds to the overall cost of the project. On the 11thDecember 1883,the remains of three priests from the old “straw” church were re-interred in the new church. Finally, on the 5th October 1884, the great day arrived with the blessing and dedication of the Church to Saints Stephen and John by the most Reverend Bishop Higgins.
Cork Exhibition of 1883
On entering the Church, which is of cruciform design, one is immediately drawn to the Sanctuary. The beautifully ornate white marble high altar was first exhibited at the Cork Exhibition of 1883 and is the work of Samuel Daly of Cork. The side altars are dedicated to Our Lady and the Sacred Heart. Next to the Sacred Heart altar are the ornately carved portals of the Nuns Chapel. The beautiful stained glass windows were admirably executed by M/S Barnett and Sons. The organ was built by Mr.T. Magahy of Cork. The carved supporting pillars, with bases of local Lisheenbawn red marble, are enhanced by ten antique brass chandeliers which were installed in the 1930s by Archdeacon Browne. The splendid artistic stations of the cross exude a radiance of holiness.
Generations of Parishioners
In 1886 the gates, walls and pillars around the church were erected. In 1910, Patrick Murphy of Tralee built the spire which is 170 feet high and dominates the skyline for miles around. Our bell has tolled daily for generations, joyfully marking great family occasions and, with respect and sadness, accompanying each person on their final sombre journey. Within the church lie the remains of six Priests, and nine more are at rest in the church grounds. Close by is the Presentation Nuns’ Cemetery where fifty seven Nuns are lain to rest. Generations of parishioners have worshipped in this Church and over the century many who have died at home or in foreign lands are remembered there.
At the opening of the new century, our parish is served by the very Rev. Denis Canon O’Mahony, PP.; .Rev.Fr. William Stack, Very Rev. Thomas Egan, and our Parish Clerk, Mrs. Mary McGaley.
As we enter the third millennium, we remember there is one God, and the one God speaks with one voice-in his word, the Bible, and in His world, the Creation.”
At the helm today is Monsignor Dan O’Riordan as the parish prepares to welcome the Mission of 2014.