When the foundations for the walls of St. Joseph’s were being sunk two coffins were laid bare. They were lifted and re-interred inside the new church. One was the coffin of a Fr. McKenna who was ordained in St. Mary’s in 1850, celebrated his first mass next morning and died immediately afterwards. Pat Magee and James Marron were the men who lifted and re-buried the coffins.
When Fr. Meenan was appointed curate here in 1906, Pat Magee told him that in raising the coffin of Fr. McKenna, “the lid was accidentally lifted and revealed the remains in a state of perfect preservation, not a feature of the face changed nor any part of the clothing decayed after a lapse of ten years”.
A marble slab to his memory can be seen in the floor of St. Joseph’s where he is interred alongside two of his curates, Fathers James Joseph Hughes and Patrick Joseph McCullough who died in 1870 and 1868 respectively. Fr. Hughes was born in Donagh parish and Fr. McCullough was from Monaghan.
Plan of the Church of St. Joseph
“The Dublin Builder” on 1 May 1861 announced, “The new church in Carrickmacross is about to be completed. It will be 150 feet long by 60 feet wide and comprehend nave, aisles, transepts, chancel-double sacristy and spire etc. The style will be Gothic. Mr. J.J. McCarthy is the architect”.
Laying of Foundation Stone
Up to the laying of the foundation stone by Dr. McNally in 1863, a sum of over £4,500 had been accumulated, for as well as the lottery in 1860, a subscription list had been opened two years previously, which had presented a sum of £2,000. It had been decided to erect the new building partly on the site of St. Mary’s and partly on an enlarged site which had been granted by Lord Weymouth who also gave a subscription of £300.
It was at this time that the two acres for the cemetery at Drummond Otra was obtained from the same source. The ceremony of the laying of the foundation stone was performed in the presence of a large number of the clergy of the diocese and a vast crowd of the Catholic population. We read “The old chapel has stood the storm of 80 years and at the time of its erection, was perhaps able to accommodate the Catholics of the parish, but for several years past, notwithstanding the depopulation of Farney, it is far too small for the requirements of the people of this extensive parish”.
The occasion concluded with a dinner held in O’Neill’s Commercial Hotel (Now McMahon’s) at which the health of Lord Bath was toasted for his generosity and a tribute paid to Mr. Trench, agent “ for his kind conduct”.