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Church of Ireland, Westport

Church Of Ireland, Westport.

Introduction

The population of Westport had decreased considerably during the famine years (1845 – 1849). In the early 1850s, the population of Westport town was about 7,500. Life was difficult for people after those years and people were very poor.

It was not until the 1860s that Westport town was beginning to recover from the effects.

Farming and fishing was beginning to pick up in the surrounding areas. The Quay played a vital role in the economic development of the town. It provided a convenient location for the import of vital requirements for survival of the people in the surrounding regions.

Imports landed include timber from North America and the Baltic, Indian corn from the Black Sea and the United States and other items include sugar, coffee, tea and iron from Glasgow and Liverpool. This provided work for the shopkeepers and craftsmen in Westport, so they could make a good livelihood once more. Roads and footpaths were improved and were being maintained by the Town Commissioners and gas lighting was introduced.

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Holy Trinity Church, Westport.

Parish History

By 1855, the Church of Ireland community in Westport had grown too large to be accommodated in the old church. As the old building was falling into disrepair, plans to repair or build a new church were being considered.

In April 1869, plans were approved to build a new Church on the Newport Road in the town. It would replace the old Parish Church that had been built in 1797, in The Demesne of Westport House.

The site chosen on the Newport Road was a wooded area and trees had to be cleared for the building of Holy Trinity Church. This site had been donated to the parish, for the purpose, by the Most Noble George John, Third Marquess of Sligo, on 23rd of December 1868.

The Holy Trinity Church was consecrated on 26th of September 1872, by the Right Rev Dr. Charles Broderick Brendan, Bishop of Tuam.

Thomas Newenham Dean designed the Holy Trinity Church in Westport. Amongst his other great works in Mayo, is Turlough House Castlebar, where now the National Museum of Country Life is situated.

The Holy Trinity Church is of Gothic style, consisting of a semicircular apse at the east end, the organs been in the north side and the tower and spire on the south side. The porches are on the west side. The spire reaches a height of 185 feet; the spire is surmounted by an Irish cross in gilt metal, 6 feet long. The Church is built of Irish stone, believed to be located in the locality, punched, the dressings been in Scotch stone.

Since its opening in 1868, much work has been done on the interior of the Church to improve its decoration.

 

Rector of the Parish

“George A. Birmingham” was pen-name for Canon James Owen Hannay (1865-1950), Irish novelist and playwright and religious writer. He was born July 16 1865 in Belfast, was educated in England and Trinity College, Dublin, before entering the church, was ordained and became rector of Holy Trinity Church, Westport.

He was very interested in the Irish language and shared the cultural nationalism of his friends Arthur Griffith and Douglas Hyde. He wrote about the Gaelic League in two books, ‘Is the Gaelic League Political?(1906)’, and a novel, ‘Benedict Kavanagh (1907)’. Amongst other novels he wrote: The Seething Pot (1905); The Red Hand of Ulster (1912); The Lost Tribes (1914) and Inisheeny (1920), whilst amongest his plays the best known is ‘General John Regan’, a novel featuring Dr. O’Grady and Major Kent in a tale about a nationalist monument raised by a returning American to a non-existent Irish hero; while being presented in Westport on February 4, 1914, it had to be stopped during the second act when angry protesters stormed the stage.

Chairs were thrown, some stage property and scenery destroyed, the theater itself was badly damaged. The riot was stopped only after the intervention of the parish priest, Father Canavan, who pleaded with the audience to stop.

Hannay was happy in Westport and served there for twenty-one years (1892 – 1913)..

 

More recent times

In 1972, to mark the centenary of the Church, members from the Holy Trinity and St Mary's Church combined, for The Thanksgiving Service. Schools and church choirs joined together for the celebrations. It was a great communal event which celebrated not just 100 years worship in the church, but also a new ecumenical possibility in Westport.

In 1984, major restoration work was carried out on the church. A restoration committee of parishioners from the Holy Trinity and St Mary's Church raised funds to complete the work. With the help from local subscriptions and a national appeal, the work was completed by 1986.

In 2004, St Mary's Church was closed for major renovation works. The Select Vestry in Holy Trinity was able to offer St Mary's parishioners hospitality during the renovation. Weekday and some weekend Masses were celebrated in Holy Trinity. It was the most natural thing in the world.

It is recorded that thirteen rectors have served in the church since it was opened. Most recent was Archdeacon Gary Hastings, which served from1995 until 2009. He is replaced by Rev Val Rogers.

 

Service

Sunday: 11.30am, Holy Communion.

Sunday school is held every Sunday for children.

Tea/coffee and biscuits is served afterwards, everyone is welcome.

This is a great occasion for any new members to communicate and make friends with people from the local community.

A welcome pack is available on request.

 

Contact Details:

Rev Val Rogers

The Rectory

Newport Road

Westport

Telephone: 098 25127

 

More information on the History of ‘Holy Trinity Church, Westport’ can be found in a contribution by Caitríona Hastings to the “Cathair na Mart 2009 journal of the Westport Historical Society”.

 

Youth Activity

In our Parish there is a small youth group called ‘DIG’, we meet in Holy Trinity School, every few weeks. Our youth group has been running for 20 years or so.

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The word DIG stands for ‘Do It God’. During the meeting,

we look at and discuss different topics, wisdom, water and faith for example. We would try to make a space at the meetings for young people to experience and understand the mystery of God.

 

Contact Details: Steve Brickenden

Telephone; 098 29810

 

 

Church Of Ireland, Westport.

 

June Bourke

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