St Mary's Church, Castleblayney alongside the neighbouring St Maeldoid's Church of Ireland Church which was home to the Catholic community during the recent extensive renovations.

On Sunday next, 8 December 2019, St 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. The liturgy will begin at 3pm and will be attended by parishioners, people from surrounding parishes, together with clergy and religious and representatives from other Christian denominations.

The liturgy will also be broadcast via webcam on and on

The recent renovations and re-ordering at St Mary’s were the most extensive in the history of the building. The work involved the transformation of the sanctuary area into a space where the entire assembly can celebrate the sacred mysteries in a worthy manner while continuing to honour what tradition has given to the place and people. 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. The re-cycling of material for re-use was one of the strong features of this work.

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 St 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 St 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.

The dedication or re-dedication of a church is a solemn act, reserved to the bishop, and one which sets the building apart. The Rite of Dedication takes place within the celebration of the Eucharist and follows the Profession of Faith. It begins with the Litany of the Saints, followed by the Prayer of Dedication. Then, the consecration of the altar and the anointing of the walls of the church form the principal part of the rite, marking the altar as the centre of the thanksgiving – eucharist – where the memorial of the Lord is celebrated. Following the anointing, the altar and church (both building and people) are incensed to honour the presence of God, the holiness of the building and to emphasise that those assembled are set apart as the People of God.

St 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 St 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.

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.

Sunday’s liturgy itself has been planned and prepared by the Parish Liturgy Group. A special liturgical booklet for the occasion will be available and the music for the occasion will be led by all the choirs of the parish.

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