The re-opening of the Church of Our Lady and St Joseph, Caragh will take place on Sunday 30th May at 3pm with a special Mass concelebrated by Bishop Jim Moriarty and local priests.

The local Caragh choir will lead the singing on the day and after Mass light refreshments and entertainment will be available. To coincide with the re-opening a souvenir booklet has been prepared by Fr. OConnell. This production has been modelled on a similar 1960 booklet prepared by the late Fr Bennett who was parish priest of Caragh for many years and who was largely responsible for the building of the church in the late 1950’s.

Restoration Work

Fifty years have elapsed since the opening of the Church of Our Lady and St Joseph, Caragh. During this period dramatic changes have taken place in the established church and it therefore seemed obvious that if the church in Caragh was to remain a vibrant force and a focal point in the communitythat it should be reordered to ensure it is a building suitable for all modern liturgical requirements while also fulfiling all present health and safety regulations. It was therefore decided that the Church of Our Lady and St Joseph should be reordered and that the work should be carried out in 2010 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the original opening of the church in 1960.

The building was designed by architects, Martin Murray and the physical work was by a team of architects and engineers working in close liaison with a small group of local advisors. The actual physical work carried out by the builders was preceded by a very big local team effort that took place in the week immediately after Christmas when everything was removed from the church and placed in safe keeping. The contractor, Pat Moore of Portlaoise commenced operations on 4 January and work was completed by early May.

To meet the requirements of a modern church and to make it more accessible to the congregation a number of significant changes have been introduced. These include in repositioning of the main and side alters and a creation of a large welcoming area inside the main entrance. New heating and sound systems have been installed, together with new floor surfaces and realignment of the stairs leading to the gallery. These changes are aimed at producing a spiritual and comfortable atmosphere in which the congregation and priest will be able to worship in close harmony.

Other structural changes included the creation of a new sacristy and the installation of community rooms, storage spaces and catering facilities. These community rooms are designed to cater for parish activities such as meetings of the pastoral council and various parish committees, choir rehearsals, exhibitions and social occasions. It is thus hoped that the church, will not only be used for the liturgy but will also become one of the focal points for the parish community.

History of Caragh Church

The original 1790 RC Church in Caragh was situated in the old cemetery in the village, approximately three miles from Caragh and served the community for many years. However during the 1950’s this old building was in a very poor condition and it was decided to build a new church on a site on the hill of Caragh donated by the Robinson family. This church was blessed and officially opened on 1st May 1960 by Bishop Thomas Keogh.

This gothic style Church has a 100ft high Anglo-Norman tower. This is capped with a slated pinnacle and is flanked on either side by a cone shaped chapels which contain the Baptistery and Mortuary which contain six small stained glass windows from the 1790 Church. The main door features Celtic moulding.

Inside the church is a plaque honouring Fr. Jeremiah Bennett, PP (1954 – 1987) on the 70th anniversary of his ordination in June 1996. He died in 1997.