On Sunday next, 8 December 2019, Saint Mary’s Church, Castleblayney, Co Monaghan (Parish of Muckno), will be solemnly re-dedicated by the Bishop of Clogher, Bishop Larry Duffy, following extensive renovation works and re-ordering, at a cost of €2.1m.

This will be the first re-dedication liturgy to be presided over by Bishop Duffy since his appointment as Bishop of Clogher and comes on the first anniversary of the announcement of his appointment by Pope Francis. Bishop Duffy served as a priest in Castleblayney for 16 years, from 1978 until 1994.

The recent renovations and re-ordering at Saint Mary’s were the most extensive in the history of the building. The work involved the creation of safe entrance area and welcoming space, the renewal of all furnishings, the removal and restoration of the roof to enable the installation of insulation, new heating and electrical systems and new lighting as well as the painting of the entire building.

This outstanding work was initiated with vision by Canon Patrick McHugh (PP Muckno 2010-2018) along with members of the Parish Finance, Property and Administration Committee, chaired by Declan McAteer. The architect was Karl Pederson of Mullarkey Pederson Architects and the principal contractors were McGuigan Builders, Clontibret.

A notable aspect of this renovation work was the fact that during the closure of Saint Mary’s (June 2017 to August 2018), the Catholic community here was generously and willingly accommodated by the Church of Ireland community next door in Saint Maeldoid’s Church. This was due to the kind offer of the then Rector, Rev Neal Phair and the Select Vestry, together with the agreement of Bishop John McDowell and Bishop Liam MacDaid.

Saint Mary’s Church was constructed in the 1850s on the site of an earlier church and was first dedicated by Bishop Charles McNally on 5 November 1861 under the invocation of the Immaculate Conception, the doctrine on which had just recently been proclaimed by Pope Pius IX. Always known as Saint Mary’s, it witnessed further renovations in the 1930s and again in the 1950s when it was extended on its western side. A special plaque commemorating both dedications will be unveiled and blessed at the end of Sunday’s celebration.

Speaking this week, the present Parish Priest of Muckno, Canon Shane McCaughey, extended an invitation to all parishioners to come to this special and historic liturgy on Sunday.

“We have a beautiful church that has been renewed as the sacred space where we praise God and celebrate the sacraments. This is God’s house and it is also the house of the people – teach an phobail. The people of the entire parish and all those involved in this wonderful achievement deserve special thanks and praise for their generosity and courage. Next Sunday will be a special day for all of us as we mark the completion of the project and set this place apart once more”, he said.

After the ceremony, all are invited to refreshments in the Íontas Arts and Community Resource Centre, on Bree Road, Castleblayney (Eircode A75 HK09).

The liturgy will begin at 3pm and will be broadcast live on www.mucknoparish.ie and on https://www.mcnmedia.tv/camera/st-marys-castleblaney

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