The Thanksgiving Celebrations for the tercentenary of Rathcoffey Church culminated on Sunday 10th October with a Mass of Thanksgiving.
Fr Paul O’Boyle, parish priest of Clane & Rathcoffey was joined by Fr Joe Travers, Fr Denis Harrington, Fr Willie O’Byrne, Fr Vincent Murphy, Fr Paul Dempsey, and Fr PJ Byrne for a special Mass of Thanksgiving in the church. A large crowd packed into the church for the ceremony, where music was led by Rathcoffey Choir, under the direstion of Brian Maher. They were joined by members of Clane Folk Group and Clane Parish Choir for the occasion.
Fr Joe Travers, a native of Rathcoffey shared a little of the history of the church in the area, and spoke of his days as an altar boy in Rathcoffey. The shared memories added greatly to the sense of community and continuity in the area. Fr Joe also reminded us that the church is not the building, but the people, and challenged all present to continue sharing the Good News.
Many thanks to Fr Joe, for sharing his memories, and for his gentle presence at all the celebrations over the weekend. We look forward to many more happy times in the Church of the Sacred Heart.
After the Mass, the celebrations continued in Rathcoffey GAA centre with refreshments for everyone, and young and old enjoyed each others company for the rest of the afternoon.
Sincere thanks to all who helped to organise the events over the weekend–this was surely an example of parish and community at its very best.
About Rathcoffey Church
Rathcoffey—Coffey’s Rath or Fort. The hill at Rathcoffey was a central gathering point on the high road leading from Tara to the Kingdom of Leinster. Rathcoffey was the residence of the Wogan family, the first of whom, John, Lord of Picton, arrived in 1295. Three Viceroys of Ireland were Wogans.
Archibald Hamilton Rowan, United Irish Activist in the 1790s purchased Rathcoffey Manor from Richard Wogan Talbot of Malahide. He levelled the old castle ruins and built a fine mansion on the site.
The Church of the Sacred Heart is a small stone structure with balconies on either side of the altar. It originally had a thatched roof. The church was built in 1710 by Lady Frances Jennings, wife of the Duke of Tyrconnel, Viceroy of Ireland. She was a Wogan of Rathcoffey. Her husband had died during the Seige of Limerick. She is reputed to have gone to France before the Duke’s death. She returned to Ireland and joined the Order of Poor Clares at King St, Dublin.
The origin of Christianity in the Rathcoffey area began with St Mochua, who built monasteries at Clondalkin and Celbridge. In November 1974, the church was re dedicated to the Sacred Heart by Bishop Patrick Lennon. The church was completely refurbished in 1997 at a cost of £86,000.
Rathcoffey Church is the oldest post reformation Catholic church in the Diocese of Kildare & Leighlin and will celebrate its tercentenary in 2010.