06 December-St Mary’s Church Carlow

St Mary’s Church is located close to the centre of Carlow town Ireland. It is the Church of Ireland Parish Church of Carlow. The church is located on a site which has been a centre of worship for centuries. It has been updated and refurbished several times during its long history. The last programme of refurbishment, which took seven months, was completed in March 2013.

An ancient church called St Mary’s Abbey was founded in Carlow in 634. The present church, which was erected in 1830’s, is the third church on the same site as St Mary’s Abbey. The first church was built around 1669. In 1724 Jonathan Swift, Dean of St Patricks Cathedral in Dublin, preached in St Mary’s Church. During his visit to Carlow he stayed in nearby Centaur Street and his observation of the town was: ‘a high church and low steeple, a poor town but proud people’.

The second church was opened in 1732 but fell into disrepair and had to be replaced in the early 1800’s. The present church which is based on the plans of the architect Thomas Cobden incorporates parts of the older church. Thomas Cobden also designed the Roman Catholic Carlow Cathedral. He designed many public buildings, private residences and churches in the Carlow/Wexford area and the midlands.

St Mary’s church was built and a new spire erected in the year 1832. The spire which is over 64m (210 feet) high is the tallest building in Carlow town. The ceremonious laying of the cross at the top of the spire was performed by Colonel Henry Bruen of nearby Oak Park.

The decision to make application to the Board of First Fruits for funding to build the present St Mary’s Church in Carlow town, Ireland was made at a Vestry Meeting in the year 1827 On This Day.


Map of Carlow by brookscl on 2015-10-04 10:41:02

Carlow photo

Photo by The British Library

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