Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

St. Anne's Church,
Athy Road, Carlow

The Church that went across the Barrow

Source:  Reference: The Carlow Advertiser
Monday 19 December 1983 (Page 6)

St. Anne's Church, Athy Road. Carlow.
Source: The Nationalist Nov 2009
St. Anne's Church, built in 1852, before it was dismantled and moved across the Barrow River in 1928.
St. Clare's RC Church. in Graiguecullen without the steeple.
St. Anne's Church, (now known as St. Clare's Church, Graiguecullen) once occupying a site next to Kelvin Grove on Athy Road has now been moved across the river. This may seem strange, but it is true. It went over stone by stone to become St. Clare's, Graiguecullen.

The church is part of Carlow's history and that history brings us back to 1841- the heyday of the Tory landlord. Colonel Henry Bruen of Oak Park and Thomas Bunbury were returned for the constituency by a close margin against Dan O'Connell - Junior, known as 'young Dan," and John Ashton Vates. Conservatives of Tipperary set the ball rolling by starting a presentation fund for Col. Bruen. Other counties followed suit. A deputation waited on Col. Bruen at Carlow Clubhouse on April 2nd, 1852.

They had 2,000 in hands and ideas about giving the Colonel a service of gold plate. Col. Bruen declined to accept any personal favour. Just then he was building a private church in his demesne in the form of a Greek temple, so he suggested that the money be devoted to erecting a free church for the use and benefit of Carlow parish. To this end he donated the field next to Kelvin Grove. A meeting of subscribers was held at Morrison's Hotel, Dublin, on 6th May 1842, and the project was approved. But even in those days 2,000 was too little to complete such a project.

Two years later the Carlow Sentinel of July 13th 1844, wrote that as not half the congregation could find places in the parish church. The Bruen Testimonial Committee should bestir themselves and take steps to build. Colonel Bruen responded by promising to make good the difference between the 2,000 and the cost of the completed church. Joyce, wife of John McDuff Derrick, the London architect, laid the stone forming portion of the east jamb of the south of the chancel on May, 21st. 1852. The stone contained a scroll and coins of the realm. When found during the demolition of the church in 1926 the scroll was handed to the late Archdeacon Ridgeway and is preserved in St. Mary's Vestry. The fate of the coins is not recorded.

The church, a gem of Gothic architecture, had been closed for worship owing to the lack of a congregation. In 1926 it was purchased by the late Very Rev, James Fogarty, P. P. Graiguecullen, taken down stone for stone and re-erected in Graiguecullen on what once was Haughton property. It still lacks its spire, the stone of which are awaiting a propitious time for erection. Both at the taking down and the erection of the church a steeplejack was killed.

Col. Bruen was an antiquarian, and though a staunch Conservative he voted in 1829 for the Catholic Relief Act.

St Clare's, Graiguecullen was originally A Church of Ireland Church on the Athy road. Thomas Thompson and Sons engineering works got the contract to dismantle it and re-erect it in Graiguecullen

St Anne's Wall. Athy Road opposite St Dympna's, The picture is taken looking towards Carlow.
The wall is all that remains of the former St Anne's Church (Church of Ireland) on the Athy Road. It was not used very often and was purchased by the Roman Catholic Parish of Graigue, was dismantled and re-erected across the River Barrow on its present site beside the Poor Clare Monastery and named St. Clare’s (Roman Catholic Church), It was originally built in 1852 by John Derrick, and moved by Thomas Thompson & Son Ltd, of Carlow.
Donated by "Carloman"

Note : "Carloman" adds:

The story goes that an engineer advised that the ground on which the church was to be built was not capable of taking the weight of the steeple and therefore it was not erected. The stones of the steeple remained stored in the chapel yard until the renovations in the 1960s when they "vanished".

The following anecdote about St. Anne's Church is gleaned from the files of The Nationalist & Leinster Times-for 1889:-  (Reference Carloviana (The Journal of The Old Carlow Society) 1985/86 Page 15) Note 1. (The author of this piece is not mentioned in Carloviana)

The Bruen testimonial church is pronounced by all competent authorities to be one of the most perfect pieces of architecture in Ireland, and few know the first sermon preached within its walls was by the late Cardinal McCabe when he was P.P. of Francis Street, Dublin.

At the time the church was finished, but not dedicated, Father McCabe was in Carlow marrying a near and dear friend of his. After the ceremony he wished to see the public buildings of the town.

A few friends undertook to be his guides. He praised some of the buildings very much, but the new church as it was then called, delighted him, after a very careful inspection of the entire building, he got into the pulpit, and no sooner was he there than his guides became seated, he took the hint, and for fifteen minutes "delivered one of the nicest discourses ever listened to".

II. Note: A very fine interior photograph accompanies this article with the caption "Interior of St. Anne's Church, Athy Road, Carlow, which was erected to commemorate the victory of Colonel Henry Bruen in the Parliamentary Election of 1841". (See Carloviana 1963). The photograph was presented to County Carlow Museum in memory of John and Amy Fitzroy, Court View, Carlow."

III. Note: Mr Bruen was at the time of the election building a family mausoleum in his grounds at Oakpark and re directed the finances towards St Anne's Church. The mausoleum remains incomplete and is mentioned in "The Carlow Gentry"

IV. Note: Refer to the description of the last interment at the Mausoleum (1969) in "The Carlow Gentry" by Jimmy O'Toole (Page 50)  ISBN 0 9522544 0 9

V. Note: St Anne's was an Anglican Church at this time. It later was moved stone by stone across the river Barrow to become St. Clare's Roman Catholic Church in Graiguecullen.


Ned Walker who lived on Maryborough Road, Graiguecullen worked on the moving of St Ann's church across the Barrow to become St Clare's church. He also worked as a store-man in Thompson's and was a keen Gardner.

Source: 'Carloman'

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