Moville Churches

Moville Churches

A Historical Survey of the Moville Churches by Cannon David W.T. Crooks, M.A.,B.D.

St Patrick is supposed to have founded an abbey at Moville, which means. “the plain of the ancient tree”. A church was built as a private chapel for the Carey family in 1741. This in due course, became a chapel of ease, and eventually, the parish church.

The original parish of Moville was divided into Upper and Lower Moville in 1781. Upper Moville Church is in Redcastle, a few kilometres to the south of Moville. The church was built, and consecrated on 18th August 1853. It has a three bay nave, with large porch to the west and a bellcote. Over this in the west wall, there is a sexfoil window. The transepts are lit by paired lancets with sexfoils above and the east window is a triple lancet. Redcastle Church was closed in 1990. The ruins of an older church are in the graveyard.

The Parish Church of St. Finian at Greencastle was built in 1782. It is a rectangular building with a louvered and battlemented tower at the west end, and a sanctuary with a vestry room adjacent to it to the east. Inside, is a gallery. On the north wall are three plain windows, each with three lights, and each has three small circular lights overhead. In the south wall, there is one plain window. There is one plain window on each side of the west wall below the gallery. The sanctuary is lit by three stained glass windows. The hexagon stone font to the right of the entrance, is in memory of CMMcC and ARMcC, who are not otherwise identified. The pulpit is in memory of the Rev. Thomas McClellan, Rector of Macosquin near Coleraine, who died in 1896. The reredos behind the alter is inscribed Holy, Holy, Holy, and on each side are, on the left, the Apostles’ Creed, and on the right, the Lord’s Prayer.

There are eight memorial monuments or brass plaques on the south wall. The first, from the left is to William McClellan who died in 1858, and to his wife. There is one to W.A. Brown, who died in 1859, and to his wife. A brass plaque commemorates the Rev. Richard Smyth Benson, Rector 1923 to 1944, and his wife, and another commemorates Lt. Col. Walter Crosbie, D.S.O. Catherine, wife of Rev Richard Hamilton, Rector of Culdaff and Cloncha 1823 – 1847 is commemorated on a monument. She died in 1842. Mr Hamilton was one of thirty nine children! Next, a plaque commemorates the three men who from the parish died in the Great War. Also, William and Adelaide Press and the family, 1933, and Mrs Hugh Corbett, who died in 1859, and her family, are commemorated.

As the town of Moville grew larger than its neighbour, Greencastle, a new church was built there. It was consecrated on 16th April 1858 as a chapel of ease in the parish of Lower Moville. It is a rectangular building with a sanctuary extending to the east, to the left of which is the vestry room. On the south side, near the west end is the entrance porch, which is topped by a short octagonal tower and spire.

On the west wall are two clear windows with a circular light above. On the north wall are four plain windows, each with two lights. On the south wall are three stained glass windows, each with two lights. The first of these depicts the Good Shepherd, and is in memory of Thomas Wetherall and Mary Sproule, in 1887. The middle window depicts Mary and Martha with Jesus, and the window by the pulpit depicts Moses and Miriam. In the South Wall of the sanctuary, a window depicts the Good Shepherd in memory of Charles Seymour, D.D. Rector of Moville Lower, 1852-1862, and Dean of Derry, 1872-1882. There are three stained glass windows in the east wall.

The pulpit also commemorates Dean Seymour. The brass lectern is in memory of Laura Jane Forster who died in 1966, and a brass plaque states that it come from St. Michael’s Church, Norwich, and was given in 1976 by Ellen de Vere Walker. The prayer desk was given in memory of Canon Peter Cartwright, Rector, 1966-1980. There is a hexagonal stone font. The pipe organ is on the south side of the nave.

On the north wall are memorials to Bertie Kane who was killed in 1940, to Lt. James Montgomery of the Indian Army who died in 1843, and to Charlotte Morrison who died in 1940. There are monuments to Annie Hyland who died in 1839, to Capt. J.E. Hillman who died in 1877, to Richard Anderson who died in 1891, and to Pechell Irvine who died in 1884, and his family.

The memorials and monuments to the Montgomery family are on the south wall. Samuel Montgomery was a Derry merchant, and Sheriff of the city in 1774. He built New Park, the family residence in 1776. He also bought the site of Moville in 1768 and leased it. There is a monument to his son, the Rev. Samuel Montgomery, Rectory of Lower Moville, 1812-1830. The next monument is to Maud, wife of Bishop Montgomery, who was daughter of Dean Farrar, Dean of Canterbury. She died in 1949. A brass plaque commemorates Katherine May Montgomery who died in 1932, and another, Charlotte Montgomery who died in 1889, and May Montgomery. Another brass plaque commemorates Col. James Montgomery, Knight of the Order of St John of Jerusalem, who died in 1940. Rev. Samuel Montgomery and his brother, Sir Robert Montgomery of the Indian Civil Service, sons of the Rev. Samuel Montgomery, are commemorated on a monument. There is a monument to the Rt. Rev. Henry Hutchinson Montgomery, Bishop of Tasmania, 1889-1901, and Secretary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, 1901-1919. Bishop Montgomery was father of Field Marshal Montgomery of Alamein, a distinguished soldier in the Second World War.

The other memorials on the south wall commemorate James Baskerville who died in 1922, Col. Hugh Chetham Lyle, Royal Artillery who died in 1897, and Gilbert Thomas Baskerville, Royal Navy who died in 1914.

St. Pius X

Extracts taken from the booklet published for St Pius X Church – A Golden Jubilee Celebration 1958 – 2008

Chapels officially belong to religious orders or congregations and can normally be found in monasteries, castles and similar buildings. Churches, however, belong to dioceses and parishes. Belonging to the Mercy nuns, St. Michael’s was therefore a chapel. St. Pius X is technically a church even though the people of the parish still tend to retain the old term ‘chapel’.

The building of St. Pius X Church was a vast community undertaking which saw the involvement of practically the entire parish population both at home and abroad. It was conceived by the parish priest, Fr. Dan McLaughlin, the contract was awarded to a Moville firm, John McGuinness and Sons and it was built by local builders and craftsmen. Fundraising for the project involved young and old and everyone in between and included an incredible variety of activities.

Two types of stones were used for the chapel. The main walls, except the front, are brick. For the front facade Fanad Granite and Prehen Limestone were used. A Monumental Sculptor from Derry named Robert Bradley trained three men to help him sculpt the altar. Several other intricate pieces of stonework, such as the granite cross above the main chapel door and the altar rails all done by hand were also fashioned at McGuinness’ Quay Street base. Down at the workshop there were times the men couldn’t keep up with the demands placed upon them for new stonework. Due to the relentless nature of the work the sculptors would have to run up to Neil McDaid’s blacksmiths at Malin Road, to have their tools tempered. The people who worked on the chapel were bestowed the honour of having their names being placed in a pocket in the foundation stone.

The granite, from Fanad Head, and the limestone, from Lynch’s quarry in Prehen, were transported to Moville on board Lough Swilly lorries driven by local drivers. To mark their contribution to the building work, the Swilly drivers donated the cross at the top of the copper lantern to the new St. Pius X Church.

Some features of the St. Pius X Church were sub-contracted out – the roof and copper lantern. The stained glass windows and the ceiling – practically all of the new church was built by McGuinness’s workmen. This included not only the building itself but all the fixtures and fittings as well.

The bells for the new St. Pius X Church were donated by Crawford Norris. Although of different faiths, Crawford and Fr. Dan were firm friends and often enjoyed playing cards with each other. Crawford also was a major contributor to the American fundraising effort.

The Stations of the Cross were painted by Sheila McClean. Sheila remembers ”

I graduated in 1956 and was teaching full time when I accepted the commission to paint the Stations of the Cross for the new church being built in Moville by my uncle John McGuinness. I was invited by Fr. Dan McLaughlin, through Fr. Neil McCarron, who was at that time a teacher in St. Column’s College and also a gifted painter. This invitation was especially meaningful to me as Moville is my birthplace and the origin of my parents.

John Turpin, in his book ‘Visual Culture and Catholicism in the Irish Free State, 1922 – 1949’ says … “the academy of Christian Art was set up in 1929 to generate Catholic art and architect, but it failed to address the challenge of Modernism … stained glass was the one form where Modernism was influential” (the latter is cited from an abstract published online January 17th 2006). This is the background in which I accepted the challenge of what was for me an unique opportunity.

Fr. Dan acquired a studio for me in the office block of church architects, Devine and Fitzpatrick. He took me to see how other artists had resolved the problems of expressing theme, feeling and integrity in a work consisting of 14 pictures. The Stations of the Cross by Muriel Brandt in the Franciscan Church, Rossnowlagh, which I saw them, have always stayed with me and on a recent visit they did not disappoint. Her compositions are planned with a square format and painted in subdued tones throughout. They are devotional and artistically successful. However my style was to be quite different.

At that time I was influenced by the artist and painter Rouault, a strong commentator on the injustices of his time. His style, with its simple images in strong colour is most suitable for reproduction in stained glass. Style was always going to be dictated by the time factor and the particular gifts of the artist.

The employment of models was difficult, but in saying that, some of my friends helped out. Kathleen, in particular, who sat for Mary in the fourth station, is now a nun in the Sacred Heart Order, and the study is presently in the possession of Canon Frank Deeney who resides in England.

After studying the works of various artists of the past, I began my own compositions in monochrome, At this stage I showed them to Fr. Dan and he was very tempted to go for monochrome in the final paintings! In the end the paintings were completed in colour with decisions already made about size, proportion, framing and placement. He was generous in his approach and in fact gave me a free hand which was a great encouragement to me in my early work.

I looked for feedback – particularly from relatives. Some people found difficulty in accepting the modern treatment of the traditional images. Many others expressed their appreciation. I hope I have achieved an artistic resolution that creates an aid to prayer and meditation.”

Architects: Malachy Fitzpatrick and Michael Devine

Builders: John McGuinness and Sons, Building Contractors and Furniture Manufacturers: John, John Jun, Robin, Ned, Dan, Hugh.

Workers: Manny Gillen (Joiner and stone cutter), John Farren (Joiner and stone cutter), John Gillen (French Polisher), Pat Doherty, Charlie McHenry (Plasterer), Frank Cavanagh (mason), Mickey Duffy (Joiner), Robert Bradley (Bob) (stone cutter), Hubert O’Donnell, Mickey Joe Hunter, Mickey McDonald, Eddie Walls, Alex Hutchinson, Willie Mullan, Gerard Connolly, Jimmy McLaughlin, Barney McCauley, John Harvey, Kevin Barr, Hughie Farren and Johnny Long.