History of St Patrick's Church

On Sunday, 11th October 1891, the foundation stone of the present church in Trim was blessed and placed by Bishop Nulty in the presence of Bishop Donnelly (Clogher) and Bishop O'Donnel (Raphoe). In the recess underneath the stone were placed some scapulars, medals, current coins and a scroll giving the history of the foundation and an account of the ceremony.

Fr Behan announced after the ceremony that he had already £547.7.6 (that's seven shillings and six pence) towards the building, and a further £303 was suscribed that day.

Building began immediately but, by the time the church had risen to 30 feet, building was suspended by the turmoil of the Parnell controversy which split the people. Fr Behan was succeeded by Fr Callary and building resumed in 1895. By June 1898, £9,000 had been paid to Mr Nolan of Monaghan, the contractor, and £450 to Mr Hague. Another £4,000 was required to make it ready for worship. The estimate cost of the church was £16,000 but the final cost was £22,000, an increase caused by changes in the plan and in the materials used.

Fr Nicholas Woods succeeded Fr Callary in 1899 and the firm of WH Byrne was chosen when Mr Hague died.

The church was solemnly dedicated to St Patrick by Bishop Gaffney on 12th October 1902, with Cardinal Logue presiding.

Dr Joseph Smith, at the organ, and a choir of 42 from St Kevin's South Circular Road, Whitefriars Street and Dominic Street, Dublin rendered the Ecce Sacerdos Magnus, Missa Solemnis, by Gunod, a Rossini Motet at the Offertory and Handel's Hallelujah Chorus after the Benediction. Music was also provided on this joyful occasion by the band from Oldcastle.


The High altar and reredos was by Pearse & Sons (head of the firm being Padhraig Pearse's father). The frontal consists of three panels in white marble the Sacrifice of Abel, the Sacrifice of Abraham and the Sacrifice of Melchizedek. The reredos consists of a marble statue of St Patrick under a marble canopy followed by high reliefs, The Nativity and The Transfiguration, a large brass crucifix, highly chased and moulded; then high reliefs of The Resurrection and The Ascension (with a marble statue of St Brigid under the marble canopy).

A note in Fr Wood's account book reads: 'In the original contract, the sanctuary floor was to be in pitch pine. Mr Byrne and I changed this for mosaic.'

The sanctuary mosaics were worked by Messrs Oppenheimer of Manchester. The Celtic designs and motifs are beautifully worked. A small entry in the account book gives us their source: 'To Mr Lawrence, photographer, six shillings for photographs from the Book of Kells, as patterns for the Sanctuary'. At the centre of these designs is a small mosaic picture of  boat. Pope Celestine is at the helm, the sails are wind-filled and St Patrick and his companions look towards the Western Isle. The mosaics at back and sides of the sanctuary depict instruments of the Passion of Our Saviour the scourge, crown of thorns, the seamless garment and pair of dice, sponge, reed and spear.

At the front of one of the steps is a quotation from the Book of Armagh, attributed to St Patrick: 'Ut Christiani ita ut Romani sitis' ('As you are Christians be ye also Romans').

The mosaic work in the sanctuary shows two intentional 'mistakes'. On the sanctuary floor there are mosaics of the 12 apostles, six on either side. St Peter on the left side has five fingers and a thumb on his raised hand. On the rear wall the golden tree on the right side has a leaf out of place, as if falling, and out of symmetry with the golden tree on the left. It was the craftsman's way of saying this mosaic is by a mere human, not the Divine Artist.

The Sacred Heart Altar, with statue and reliefs, was created by G. Smyth, Brunswick Street, Dublin. The panel on the left is Jesus with the children. The panel on the right is Jesus with the sick and poor. Our Lady's Altar is, also, by Smyth of Dublin. The left panel depicts the Annunciation; the right panel, the Coronation of Our Lady.

The Sanctuary window and gallery window are by Hardman of Birmingham, England.

Most of the seats were made by a Mr Beakey, some made by Mr McAdory (Dundalk). All the stone carvings outside were by Mr P. Troy.

The Stations of the Cross were imported from France by Gills of Dublin. The Organ was by G. Benson.

The St Patrick window and the window of Our Lady of Trim (both of amazing detail and colour) are by Mayer of Munich. All the woodwork and doors were by Andy Gogarty & Sons. His masterpiece must be the organ gallery and its supports.

The design of the church is pointed Gothic, 140 feet from gable to gable; 60 feet between the aisles; transept 70 feet; spacious nave with clerstory; arches in wrought stone; pillars of polished granite with polished marble bases and moulded capitals; chancel 27.5 feet by 32 feet; roof of wrought and moulded timber, framed principals, beautifully arranged inter-spaces of pitch pine and other woods.

The spire topped by a cross is 208 feet. The belfry is set in the spire at 86 feet.

From the book 'St Patrick's Church, Trim, Co. Meath, 1902-1996 Its History and Features'.

For a general history of Trim town, check the Wikipedia link here.

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