A County Cavan church has finally got a bell tower and spire, 140 years later than originally planned.
The tower and spire are part of a €1m restoration project on the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Kingscourt, which was reopened by Bishop Michael Smith of Meath.
The project also included the renovation of the roof, major upgrading of electrical and mechanical systems, the restoration of stained glass windows, the provision of disabled access routes and the cleaning and repointing of the stonework.
Stained glass windows, one of them designed by famous artists Evie Hone depicting the Apparition at Fatima and two sets from Harry Clarke Studios, were also refurbished.
Parking facilities have been enhanced and closed-circuit broadcast system installed which will allow the relay of services through the parish website.
When the church was designed by William Hague, one of the leading architects of his time, the intention was that a bell tower and steeple would be included but they were never finished.
Hundreds of parishioners attended the rededication service, at which Fr Padraig McMahon, who is a native of Kingscourt, said a lot had happened since the doors of the church opened 140 years ago.
“We can only imagine the cares and concerns that have occupied the minds and hearts of those who have prayed here during world and civil wars, during depressions, recessions and times of plenty,” he remarked. One thing has remained constant, which is God’s presence; stones and slates are mere materials that stand around us.”
“It takes faith and trust to turn them into a place of prayer and into a house for God’s people," he said.
The design team for the refurbishment was headed by local architect Niall Smith and the main contractor was firm from nearby Beauparc.