The Old Church on the Lurgans
With the passing of the Catholic Emancipation Act in 1829, and the partial ending of the Penal Laws against the Catholic Irish a movement to build Catholic Churches began all over the country. Before this time Catholics had to make do with Mass Rocks and Mass Houses. In Carrickmacross the building erected about 1745 on the Lurgan Hill, the site of which is still to be seen, can have been a little better than a structure of four walls and a thatched roof, as we read in the appeal to Lord Weymouth for a site on his estate for the erection of a new church (1).
Petition for a Catholic Chapel in Carrickmacross c1780 to the Right Honourable Lord Viscount Weymouth, one of his Majesty’s Principal Secretarys of State etc. The humble petition of the Roman Catholic Inhabitant Tenants on your Lordship’s Estate in and about the town of Carrick Mc Ross and County of Monaghan.
Most humbly shewth that your petitioners have for these many past years, laboured under a very great grievance and inconveniency for the want of a proper and convenient place whereon to build a Chappell or place of worship.
The present situation of our Chappell is on the Honourable Mr. Shirley’s Estate, very far from the town, and some miles distant from a very great number of your Lordship’s Tenants, built on a blake hill, very much exposed to the severity of the winter by which means it has often, at the time of divine service in rain, hail, frost and snow, stripped of all its covering and we exposed to the inclemency of the weather without any relief or place of shelter.
We shall not take up your Lordship’s precious time from the more weighty matters of state in which your Lordship is justly honoured by our most gracious King, but refer your Lordship for the further information and authenticity of this our most humble Petition to the worthy gentleman Mr. Nevil Bath, who will have the honour to hand it to your Lordship and who was so exceedingly obliging as to go and take a view of our present place of worship.
We must humbly beg leave, further to your Lordship, that we and all our forefathers have always been faithful and loyal subjects of the present Royal Family and are ready and willing to defend them (with our lives and fortunes) against any power on earth, and would be willing at any time to testify the same upon oath, and in which voluntary Act of Allegiance to his Majesty’s Kingdom of Ireland, where we are a very considerable number of his Majesty’s faithful and loyal subjects.
All we require and most humbly beg of your Lordship is a small spot of ground about half an acre or three rods convenient to the town whereon to build a Chappell or place of Worship, which we would endeavour to make somewhat decent and comfortable at our own expense, and for which we shall willingly pay any rent that your Lordship will please to lay on it. We have taken the liberty of pointing out to Mr. Bath a particular spot of ground at the back of the town which we imagine would answer our purposes. This or any other spot that your Lordship out of your great benevolence will please to order for us will make us perfectly happy and contented (2). And leave us your Petitioners, for ever in duty bound to pray for your Lordship’s long life and prosperity and all your most noble family.
Signed for and in behalf of ourselves and all the rest of your Lordship’s Roman Catholic Tenants.
Randle McDonnell President & James Carolan Secretary (3)