Dr. Comerford says of St. Joseph's Church, Baltinglass, that "The fine parochial Church of Baltinglass was built during the incumbency of Rev. Daniel Lalor, but chiefly through the exertions of his curate, Rev. John Nolan. the finishing and decoration of the interior were carried into effect by the Very Rev. Dr. Kane. The Altar of the B. Virgin is a memorial to Fr. Lalor, as the subjoined inscription indicates: 'Erected in memory of Rev. D. Lalor, P.P., whose enlightened munificence in the cause of education and religion deserves deep and abiding gratitude. Died, 24th January, 1871, aged 81 years. May he rest in peace.' The second side-altar has been erected in memory of Dr. Kane, and is dedicated to St. Philip Neri, his patron Saint. A monumental Brass records the fact: 'This altar has been erected principally by the Parishioners of Baltinglass, in grateful remembrance of the eminent talents, great services, and exalted religious sentiments of the Very Rev. Dr. Kane, P.P. of Baltinglass, and V.G. of Kildare and Leighlin. Died, 2nd July, 1883, in the 61st year of his age, and the 35th year of his Sacred Ministry.'"
The great Fr. Lalor was Parish Priest for 40 years from 1831 to 1871 and was succeeded immediately by Fr. Kane.
Fine is too small a word for the cavernous Church of Baltinglass, more worthy of the title of Cathedral than the edifice that bears it, in my humble opinion. Mercifully, the fittings remain almost intact and almost complete. The massive Altar rails have been moved back but retained and the predella of the High Altar is shortened but not by much. If 'Summorum Pontificum' had any application in that Parish, it would be a pleasure to serve Mass there.
The Church was one of the earliest designs of John Bourke, whose career was spent working almost exclusively for Church patrons but mostly additions or alterations, such as the restoration of Ballyconnell Church in Carlow in 1858, his only other work in this Diocese. The foundation stone was laid in 1846 and the Church substantially complete by 1854. The magnificent high altar and tower of 1872 are to the design of J.S. Butler, who also designed Churches in the Diocese at Raheen (1859), Mountrath (1861), Clogherinkoe (1861-2), Emo (1861-6), Broadford (1862-5), Allen (1866-8), tower at entrance of old Ss. Peter and Paul's Portlaoise (1872). The tower of St. Joseph's is strikingly similar to the 1810 tower of the earlier Catholic Church, which had to be detatched from the Church building because of the English Penal Regime.
The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage describes the Church as "Detached multiple-bay single-storey Roman Catholic church, built c.1860 in Early English Gothic style to designs by John Bourke. The building is constructed in mainly ashlar granite and is articulated with reducing buttresses and recessed bays. The plan is cruciform with gabled transepts and various porch and vestry projections. A five-stage clock and bell tower advances on the front symmetrical elevation. Front entrance doors are set to the side of the tower and are timber sheeted and set within Gothic-arched openings. Window openings are generally Gothic-arched lancet and often arranged in pairs. The pitched roof is finished with natural slate with cast-iron rainwater goods. Although reordered following the Second Vatican Council, the interior is well preserved and has retained the high altar and reredos along with stations of the cross and the gallery. The roof trusses are exposed. The building is set back behind a curved gate screen with paired square gate pillars with pyramidal caps and wrought-iron gates and matching railings. This is a well preserved example of a mid 19th-century church. It is a somewhat unusual choice of style for church of the period. It adds a bearing and dignity to the general area. The interior is particularly well preserved and has an impressive exposed trussed roof." I agree!
It's our Catholic heritage and we want it preserved!
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