The Church Of The Holy Trinity.
Durrow Co. Laois.
In 1823 Daniel O’Connell formed the Catholic Association, and started his campaign for Catholic emancipation. His efforts, bolstered by British public opinion, finally led to the passing of the Roman Catholic Relief Act of 1829, by the Duke of Wellington and Sir Robert Peel.
With the dismantling of the Penal Laws, imposed by British rule, Catholics were now free to worship openly. In 1833 plans were underway in Durrow for the construction of a Roman Catholic Church for the town. Lord Ashbrook, of Castle Durrow, donated the site on which the church stands, and also contributed the railings.
After three years of fund raising, construction on the building began in 1836. It took a further three years before the building was completed, and Mass was celebrated in the Church of the Holy Trinity, for the first time, on March 31st, 1839. It was Easter Sunday.
From 1870 – 1880 the church seats were crafted by Richard McCormack and his sons Michael and Joseph, who had a joinery which was situated behind what is today, Dec’s Bar, on Chapel Street.
The four spires on the church were erected in 1904, bringing it’s total height to 88 feet. Tragically on Monday, 20th June, 1904, a stone mason, Edward O’Brien, who was 40 years old, and from Kilkenny city, was killed when he fell from scaffolding, whilst working on the spires.
Charles Wall, a labourer, who was with the deceased that day, recounted that Edward O’Brien was working above him, pointing the wall. At around 11:30 a.m. he heard what he described as a “tussle”, and a man by the name of John Haslam, who was working inside the belfry, shouted “Brien, Brien, what is wrong with you?” Wall said, he then looked around and saw O’Brien plummet between the scaffolding and the building. His next sighting of the man was when he was on the ground, some 80 feet below.
He was attended a short time later, by Dr. D.J. O’Brien, who pronounced him dead, citing shock and a fracture to his skull as the cause.
Haslam told how he had seen him fall and hit the roof, before crashing to the ground. It was noted that the deceased was perfectly sober at the time of the accident, and no fault was found with the safety of the scaffolding, which was properly guarded.
Edward O’Brien was buried in St. John’s Cemetery, Kilkenny.
Source – An Historical and Social Diary of Durrow County Laois 1708 – 1992, by Edward O’Brien.