St Fiaac's Church, Clonegal
Alias Moyacomb St. Fiaac's Church is built on a Dun or mound - a small fortress - and surrounded by a deep fosse enclosed by a rath. The Rath which is visible forms the boundary of the Church yard which consists of the sloping sides of the Dun. The Church is situated overlooking the beautiful village of Clonegal, the well known Huntington Castle and the picturesque valley of the river Derry. The present Church was built in 1819 on the site of a former Church and the graveyard around it has gravestones dating back to 1777. The parish embraces parts of Counties Wicklow, Wexford and Carlow.
On the 28th May 1818 a meeting of the vestry was held for the purpose of deciding to either repair the roof of the existing Church or to adopt a plan of erecting a new one. They requested the Lord Bishop of Ferns to visit the Church and, if it seemed expedient to him to have a new Church erected, to apply to the Board of Firstfruits for a loan for that. At a later meeting held on the 20th October 1818 it was stated that a grant of one thousand three hundred pounds had been received from the Board of Firstfruits for the building of a new Church and that sum of money was levied on the three parts of the parish, to be paid back over a period of seventeen years. The Church was built in the Gothic style with Tower and Belfry and under the supervision of Mr. John Bowden, Architect.
It contains three double stained glass windows; in the south wall a window depicting the Good Samaritan, in memory of the Braddell Family; the East window (by Kemp of London) with a scene from the Good Shepherd and dedicated to the memory of Alexander Durdin and Melianna Jones Durdin; and the third window situated in the West wall (by J. Clarke of Dublin) depicts the Resurrection scene, this was erected by Rev. Treasurer Ffrench in memory of his Aunt Eleanor Metge and also in memory of the Rev. E.A.Tickle M.A., for many years rector of Clonegal. Other memorials are: Holy Table and Communion rails of oak in memory of members of the Robertson family, Huntington Castle; Font in memory of Mary Ann Durdin, Huntington Castle; Alms dish in memory of Harriet Bradish and Lectern in memory of the Rev. Canon J.H.Bradish, Rector 1907-1939; Oak Cross for Holy Table in memory of George Rothwell, Woodlands, presented by his wife and family in 1993.
In July 1821 a meeting of parishioners of St. Fiaac's was held and a synopsis of a document drawn up at that meeting is preserved and displayed in the vestry,-it states that the parishioners wished to subscribe to the building of a new Roman Catholic Church in the parish of Clonegal, the money to be paid to the Rev. Fr. Martin Doyle. It also states that the parishioners of St. Fiaac's feel greatly indebted to Fr. Doyle and his curate, Fr. Daniel Lawlor, for their unceasing exertions to promote the peace and good will of this extensive parish and we offer them our hearty thanks for their conduct to which, we are convinced, the perfect harmony now existing among all classes of inhabitants is chiefly to be attributed.'
On 22nd July 1945 the Consecration of the graveyard extension took place. This addition to the graveyard of St. Fiaac's was made possible by the good will and generosity of Denis Doyle. In February 1989 an extension was added to the Church car park, this was made possible by the generosity of the Hickey family in providing a portion of ground for that purpose. A new turnstile was erected in 1989 by George Rothwell to give easier access to the Church grounds for the many visitors who call to view the church and ancient burial ground or to visit the graves of relatives who rest there. In 1992 a ramp was built leading from the new car park and in July 1993 the parishioners painted the interior and exterior of the Church. A new coping and path were laid from the middle gate to the steps leading to the main door and standard lamps were erected. To bring this history of St. Fiaac's Church to 1993 a Flower festival was held from the 20 - 22nd August l993 inclusive with the theme 'For the Beauty of the Earth'.
There were two schools in the parish at one time, Moyacomb School and Raheengraney School. Moyacomb was opened in 1822, the teachers were John Sterne and his wife, Mary Ann. They were appointed by the Rev. John Brown on 23rd September 1822, their income was £9. l5s. This school closed in 1967. Raheengraney School opened on 12th February 1817, teacher, Mrs. Annie Bowe, also appointed by Rev. Brown. According to church records, Mr. Samuel Rothwell, Clonegal, was the last teacher at a salary of £17 per year.
A branch of Mothers' Union was formed and an admission service took place on 22nd May 1955, with Mrs. Grace Talbot as first enrolling member. The members presented a Notice Board to St. Fiaac's Church to mark Centenary Year of Mothers' Union in Ireland in 1987. The branch now forms part of Bunclody Mothers' Union. - Rachel Warren.