Ferns Parish Church

Aerial view of Ferns Church.

Built 1824 - 1826. Served the community until 1975.

General View of Ferns

by Robert French - Laurence Photograph Collection.
Image courtesy of the National Library of Ireland.

The origins of Ferns parish go back to the early days of Christianity in Ireland, being the site of St. Maodhóg’s first foundation. Relics of the early centuries are St. Maodhóg’s Well and the ancient crosses to be seen in the grounds of the present Church of Ireland Cathedral of St. Edan, which occupies part of the 13th-century cathedral of which the remains of the choir still stand.

The ruins of the chapel of St. Mary’s Abbey, founded in 1160 by Diarmaid mac Murchadha for the Canons Regular of St. Augustine, are a short distance away, a noteworthy feature of which is the tower, square to roof level, and round to the top.

St. Peter’s Church appears to have been constructed subsequent to the year 1537, as it is not mentioned in a list of ecclesiastical buildings at Ferns in that year. Stones from St. Mary’s Abbey and the 13th-century cathedral were used in its building, giving it a more ancient appearance.

During the Penal Days there were three Mass rocks in the parish – at the Cross of the Big Tree, at Crory and at Kiltown. In 1740 a barn about half a mile from Ferns was used as a chapel, and about the year 1778 a little thatched chapel was erected at Newtown. This was burned on the 18th of November 1798 after the Insurrection and was replaced by another building in 1801.

A fine new church was built in Ferns in 1824-26 and dedicated to St. Aidan by Bishop James Keating iin 1839. Rev. Theobald Mathew, OFM, Cap., preached there in 1840. This church served the community until the present church was opened in 1975.

Castle Ruins Ferns

by Robert French - Laurence Photograph Collection.
Image courtesy of the National Library of Ireland.

Catholic Church

by Robert French - Laurence Photograph Collection.
Image courtesy of the National Library of Ireland.

The foundation stone of this new church of St. Aidan was laid and solemnly blessed on the Feast of St. Aidan, 31st January 1974, by Most Rev. Donal J. Herlihy, assisted by Very Rev. Patrick Canon Doyle P.P., the architects being Meehan Levins Associates, Arklow. The building was completed, blessed and opened for public worship by Most Rev, Dr. Herlihy on the feast of the Presentation 2nd February 1975. The altar & church was consecrated by Most Rev. Dr. Herlihy on the 18th September 1977 assisted by Very Rev. Patrick Canon Doyle P.P., Rev. Patrick Cummins C.C. and Rev. A. Hassett C.C.

The granite lectern and chair were designed by O’ Neill and Roe, Dublin; the Stations of the Cross in beaten cooper are the work of Paul Meehan, Shankill; and the stained-glass windows are by Lua Breen, Howth. The main contractor was P.J. Furlong & Sons.

Further improvements were made to the exterior and interior of the church - 1977/87.

In 1990, a new monastery and chapel, designed by Albert Lennon, of Lennon and O’ Keefe, Wexford, were erected on the site of the previous parish church for the Sisters of Adoration by Byrne and Byrne, Bunclody.

Text above adapted from – 'Churches of the Diocese of Ferns – Symbols of a Living Faith'.

Published by Booklink, Ireland. Text copyright Diocese of Ferns 2004.

Used with Kind Permission.

Improvements - May - September 2007

Following problems caused by water entering in various places the roof was stripped of all slates and replaced with zinc sheeting. The opportunity was also taken at this time to insulate it well to prevent heat loss. The interior of the church was also refurbished to a high standard to the great satisfaction of all parishioners. The total cost was €657,516.