Categories of Special Interest
Archaeological, Architectural, Artistic, Historical, Scientific, Social
In Use As
1775 - 1785
Attached five-bay double-height Catholic church, built 1779-84; dated 1784, on an L-shaped plan originally five-bay double-height single-cell on a rectangular plan comprising four-bay double-height nave opening into single-bay (single-bay deep) double-height transept abutting single-bay five-stage tower (north) on a square plan. "Improved", 1822. "Restored", 1856; 1860-3, producing present composition. Renovated, 1987, with sanctuary reordered. Pitched slate roof on an L-shaped plan with ridge tiles, cut-granite "saddleback" coping to gables on cut-granite "Cavetto"-detailed ogee kneelers, and cast-iron rainwater goods on cut-granite eaves retaining cast-iron octagonal or ogee hoppers and downpipes. Rendered, ruled and lined walls with rusticated cut-granite quoins to corners; rendered, ruled and lined surface finish (east) on battered base. Round-headed window openings in tripartite arrangement with cut-granite sills on scroll consoles, carved timber arcaded mullions, and cut-granite surrounds centred on "bas-relief" keystones framing four-over-four timber sash windows having two-over-two sidelights below overlights (north) or storm glazing over fixed-pane fittings having leaded stained glass panels (south). Full-height interior with panelled organ gallery (west) on an elliptical bowed plan on paired Ionic pillars supporting timber panelled pipe organ, encaustic tiled central aisle between cruciform-detailed timber pews, cut-Caen stone Gothic-style monument (1835) with stained glass memorial windows (1889; 1890), bowed stepped dais to sanctuary (east) reordered, 1987, with pedimented side altars centred on segmental pedimented high altar, and "Guilloche"-detailed coffered barrel vaulted ceiling on Ionic pillars with "Acanthus" plasterwork centrepieces in egg-and-dart-detailed frames; full-height transept (north) with pair of stained glass memorial windows (1891) centred on pair of Classical-style wall monuments (ob. 1814; 1816), pair of stained glass memorial windows (1890), and "Guilloche"-detailed coffered barrel vaulted ceiling with "Acanthus" plasterwork centrepieces in egg-and-dart-detailed frames. Set in relandscaped grounds on a corner site with rendered, ruled and lined boundary wall to perimeter having cut-granite "saddleback" coping supporting "Fleur-de-Lys"-detailed wrought iron railings.
A church representing an important component of the built heritage of Wexford with the architectural value of the composition, one occupying the site of 'a Franciscan priory established by 1260 on a church site dedicated to Saint John and Bridget that might have been an earlier foundation of the Knights Hospitallers' [SMR WX037-032019-], confirmed by such attributes as the angular plan form showing evidence of a pre-Emancipation "barn" chapel; and the "arcaded" profile of the openings recalling the William Day (1742-1827)-designed church (1798-1802) in Kilmore (see 15620004): meanwhile, aspects of the composition, in particular the Abraham Denny (1820-92)-esque Italianate tower attributed to Patrick Byrne (1782/3-1864) of Dublin (Dublin Builder 1860, 185; 1863, 103), clearly illustrate the continued development or "improvement" of the church over the course of the nineteenth century. Having been well maintained, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior controversially reordered (1987) in accordance with the liturgical reforms sanctioned by the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican (1962-5) where contemporary joinery; a 'richly carved Caen stone monument erected by subscription' to commemorate Reverend John Corrin (d. 1835); stained glass signed (1889; 1890; 1891) by Lucien Leopold Lobin (1837-92) of Tours; wall monuments commemorating Bishop James Caulfield (1732-1814) and Reverend Patrick Lambert (1754-1816), 'appointed by [Pope Pius VII] Apostolick Vicar in the Island of N.F.Land'; and a barrel vaulted ceiling 'carried out under the direction and inspection of Mr. Patrick O'Connor…whose character and talents as a worker in rich and ornamental stucco have been tested and highly appreciated in the splendid decorations of Johnstown Castle…and also in the county of Carlow' (Lacy 1863, 423), all highlight the considerable artistic potential of a church forming part of a self-contained group alongside an adjoining friary (see 15502158) and library (see 15502194) with the resulting ecclesiastical ensemble making a pleasing visual statement in Francis Street.