Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

Carlow Methodist Church.
Athy Road. Carlow.

The Carlow Methodist Church, Athy Road. Carlow.
The Carlow Methodist Church, Athy Road. Carlow.
This article appeared in the Carlow Nationalist April 1998.

Exactly how Methodism came to Carlow is not known but that there were Methodists in the town before 1765 is certain. There are two ways in which Methodism could have been introduced. Carlow was a garrison town in the 18th century and may have been yet another place to which Methodist junior officers brought their particular form of meeting for worship. On the other hand, Carlow was a town sufficient importance to have been regarded as strategic by John Wesley’s preachers, and one of them may have been the pioneer.

The place in which the early Carlow Methodists met was a disused Huguenot church. This was a very small building which had been erected for a number of non-conforming Huguenots who had settled in he town. This church was located at the end of a narrow passage from Tullow Street, bounded at one end by Cockpit Lane. John Wesley visited Carlow in 1765, 1767, 1769, 1771, 1787 and 1789. While Wesley was delighting in the improved enthusiasm of the Carlow Methodists, they were seeking a solution to a problem, which had been caused by the improvement. The old Huguenot church was no longer large enough for them, nor was it sufficiently dignified. There was difficulty in obtaining a site on which to build another church. Eventually, a site was found in Meeting House Lane (now Charlotte Street). This had been leased by Trustees of the Quakers of Carlow in 1784 to one James Delahunty who transferred the lease to the Methodists, and a chapel was duly built before the end of 1787.

In 1790, the conference established the Carlow circuit, which embraced all of County Carlow, the greater part of County Kilkenny and part of County Tipperary.

In 1892, a site for a new chapel was secured – a quarry site on the Athy Road just behind the Courthouse. As the new site had been used as a quarry, it therefore needed to be filled, and this was achieved at a remarkable cost. Some buildings were being demolished in the town, and the site was only half as far from these as the place where the rubbish was to be dumped.

Douglas arranged to pay the carters one penny for each load they dumped at the site, which the gladly accepted as their journey was halved. For an expenditure of £5 the site was filled.

In the early months of 1897, building operations commenced. The suite of buildings comprised a chapel and adjoining lecture hall, and in the basement, a tea room or Sunday School room, a store and a heating chamber. The external work was of “fine grey granite, finely axed and tooled”. The work of building continued for just over a year and the opening services were held on Friday, April15th 1898.

Carlow Methodists have continued to worship in this church for almost 100 years, and on April 15th 1998 they celebrated their centenary which was followed by a celebration service followed by the launch of the book, ‘Asses, Colts and Loving People’, an intriguing title for an intriguing history of Methodism on the Carlow circuit. The book was written by Rev D. A. Levistone Cooney, from which the above paragraphs have been extracted.

Source: Carlow Nationalist April 1998

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