St Mary's Renovation

Here is an overview of the current situation (28 August 2014) regarding the renovation of St Mary's. It is based on extracts from the parish newsletters for March 2,  May 14, and June 22.

Newsletter, 2 March 2014
Following the damage of 14/15 February last, both the architect and an engineer from Moylan’s structural engineering company were independently consulted. They both agreed that the damage was in all likelihood caused by the flashing between the roof and the wall of the bell tower leaking water over some time. While the section that collapsed is distressing to behold, I’ve been told that the rest of the roof space is in relatively very good shape. Following an inspection by the insurance assessors, it is intended that remedial work be done to at least minimize the impact of the damage done. 

This is obviously only a short-term measure. The real work required is the re-roofing of the church, together with the re-pointing of the walls, and other improvements parishioners would want to see (e.g. sound, lighting, gallery, toilet facilities etc.). [. . .]  The scale of the fundraising needed will be a challenge, I know, but I’m confident that it is one to which we can rise. Previous generations, from the original Famine generation itself that built the church, have preserved this lovely church as a bequest to us. Surely we have a duty of care to the coming generations to pass it on as best we can. That is my heartfelt desire, and I know it’s one so many of you share.

Fr. Enda Cunningham

14 May 
Fr Enda and Matt O’Sullivan, Chairman of the PPC, have been working with the diocesan authorities to try and secure as early as possible a start to the repair work needed on the church of the Nativity of the BVM, Saggart. The diocesan finance committee, who must oversee a project of this scale, remain committed to supporting the parish to the extent of some €600,000, drawn on the Share Fund to which our parish, as every other, has been subscribing over the years. Following meetings on April 11 and May 15 here in Saggart, including discussion of safety concerns, the diocesan authorities have agreed the project needs to proceed a.s.a.p. In light of the latest cost estimate we agreed a two-phase approach:

Phase 1 : Essential work (i.e. repairing the roof, re-pointing the walls and restoring the vaulted ceiling;

Phase 2 : Internal improvements and redecoration
The project will be reviewed by the diocesan buildings’ and finance committees at the end of May, and we expect to have approval to proceed to tender by early June. We will keep you informed and ask you to continue to keep this project’s successful outcome in your prayers.
22 June
The latest developments in relation to the necessary repairs of Saggart Church are as follows:
1.  Both the Diocesan Buildings’ and Finance Committees have given approval for Phase 1 of the project to proceed. Phase 1 includes repairing the roof, re-pointing the walls and restoring the vaulted ceiling. The implementation of Phase 2, involving internal renovations, will be dependent on successfully managing the financial commitments involved in Phase 1 of the overall project.
2.  The architect has been instructed to invite tenders for Phase 1. He is currently finalising the detail of this tender proposal, which will be publicly advertised, both locally and nationally.
3The Parish Pastoral Council is in the process of forming a group to facilitate oversight of the project and good communication between the architect, Parish Council and the wider parish community. The priority is to ensure that the project is completed as quickly and as cost-efficiently as possible, without compromising the quality of the work being carried out for the benefit of the present and future generations of worshippers.
4.  Following joint discussion with the Parish Priest, the Board of Management of St Mary's NS and the executive of St Mary's GFC, the Dept. of Education has been persuaded to return to the parish the site currently occupied by the temporary class-rooms of St Mary's NS  in such manner as to facilitate the provision both of a carpark for the church and a grassed area, which grassed area which will be of benefit to the children of the school and the juvenile members of St Mary's GFC. The removal of these classrooms is due to commence in early July, on the understanding that the new building of St Mary's NS will be ready to receive children on September 1.

Subsequent Developments

9 November 
The Newsletter for Sunday 9th November carried an announcement of the beginning of the work of renovation. It may be read here.

Mid-February 2015 
A Special Newsletter (4p) was published on the subject of the renovation. Read it here.

8 March 2015 
The Newsletter for Sunday 8th March carried a 'Parish Project Update'. It may be read here.

5 April 
A Special Newsletter (2p) was circulated on Easter Sunday. Read it here.

24 May,  Pentecost Sunday
The work on the exterior of the church as well as repairs to the roof above the choir gallery on the interior have now been completed. The scaffolding and the crane are gone, and the whole church looks wonderful with its cut-stone fabric finally revealed. Fr Enda today launched the public part of the fund-raising campaign (see Newsletter for 31.5 here ).  €214,000 has been raised following private approaches to a number of parishioners over the course of the preceding months, with the target set at €350.000. Today also saw the announcement of the wider, diocesan fund-raising initiative (of which our fund-raising is a component), entitled 'Living the Joy of the Gospel'.  On the following Sunday, the Feast of Corpus Christi, pledge cards were distributed at Mass, with the message 'Every gift at any level counts'.  The Newsletter announced that €225,000 was now in (read here and the post on this webisite for 12th June here).

Wednesday 24 August 2016
The above narrative on the External Renovation of the parish church can on this day draw to a close with the announcement that the 'finial' (i.e. the round stone ball capping the top of each of the tower's four pinnacles) that had been taken down for repair in April/May of last year is now back in place, sixteen months or so later. Parishioners who noticed its being missing (creating an effect that may well be compared to the gaping hole left by a missing tooth) were overjoyed to see it back again, topping off the fine tower standing proud over an entirely reslated roof, itself showing off, underneath, the renewed splendour of the stone walls enclosing the lancet windows -- our dowdy, run-down St Mary's now calling forth from them novel feelings of admiration and wonder (as well as high-flown language!) while reminding them of Weston St John Joyce's words in 1912:  'Turning to the left at the end of this pretty lane, we enter the little village of Saggart, the most noticeable object in which is the fine Catholic Church, visible for a considerable distance around.'  Though the lane is no more (now the busy road past the Luas terminus), the approach to the village with its view of the church tower above and between the trees is still -- and now more than ever heart-liftingly! -- the same.

For the story in photos of the renovation, click here.

For the story of the 'Missing Finial', click here.                                                                                                              
To change slide, just click the screen (desktop) or touch it (tablet).  The control panel is to be found at the bottom left-hand corner of the screen. 

Putting the finishing touches on the tower      
5 September 2016

Text :   Donal McMahon  (Web. Sec.)

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