Categories of Special Interest
Architectural, Artistic, Cultural, Social
Saint Mary's Catholic Church
In Use As
Heritage centre/interpretative centre
1810 - 1830
Free-standing single-cell Roman Catholic Church, built c.1820, with five-bay nave, square-plan three-stage bell tower to north, and late nineteenth-century sacristy to west. Faces north. Now in use as cultural centre. Pitched slate roof having tooled limestone copings, with cross finial to south gable. Cast-iron rainwater goods to south elevation of tower, replacement uPVC rainwater goods to remainder of building. Roughcast rendered walls having rendered plinth eaves courses. Rendered string course to bell tower with parapet of crenellations and pinnacles. Pointed-arch window openings with painted moulded stone reveals and painted sills, five bays to east having Y-tracery stained-glass windows, one bay to south and two bays to west having stained glass depicting Our Lady and Saint Daig, patron saint of Inishkeen. Intrusive square-headed door opening to centre of east elevation, with double-leaf timber panelled doors covered by projecting slated canopy, supported by timber brackets. Square-headed door opening to east elevation of tower. Six-over-six pane timber sliding sash window to north and south of sacristy. Timber pointed-arch vaulting to interior of church, with modern galleries at first floor level to north and south, accessed via recent timber stairs at west. Exhibition space at ground floor level utilized as stage for productions of Kavanagh’s works. Timber pulpit over entrance at east over stained-glass screen. Nineteenth-century black and red tiling to exists. Church set back from road with graveyard to east, south and most recently expanded to west. Rendered stone wall to north of site with square plan gate piers and wrought-iron pedestrian gate.
In 1820 the community of Inishkeen built Saint Mary's Church on the site of an earlier thatched church, and since then this site has been of social importance to the Inishkeen community. It served as a centre for religious worship until the modern church of Mary, Mother of Mercy was constructed in 1974 west of the village. The Patrick Kavanagh Centre was established in the former church to commemorate one of the foremost Irish poets of the twentieth century. Born nearby, he worked as a farmer, and he and his wife are buried in the adjoining graveyard. The stained-glass windows are said to have been crafted by Willie Early, a student of Pugin, and the timber vaulting and the choir are referred to in Patrick Kavanagh’s novel, Tarry Flynn. Although no longer in use as a church, the building makes a significant contribution to the architectural heritage of the village and, in its new role as a cultural centre, preserves its place as a social focal point in the area.