The College Chapel is one of the most beautiful places of worship in Ireland. The College was founded in 1795 as the National Seminary, and this is the principal Chapel of the College. Over 11,000 priests have been ordained from Maynooth since its foundation, and they have ministered in every parish in Ireland, and most parts of the world.
Built between 1875 and 1891, this Chapel has 454 carved stalls, making it the largest of its kind in the world. Augustus Welby Pugin had designed the adjoining quadrangle in the 1840’s and the Chapel was designed by JJ McCarthy, professor of Architecture at the Catholic University. The spire was added to commemorate the first centenary of the College in 1895, and was designed by W Hague. Completed in 1902 at 273 feet, it is the tallest building in Leinster.
The funds for the Chapel’s construction were collected from the Irish people at home and abroad. It is a safe presumption that most Irish visitors to the Chapel will have had relatives who contributed to the construction of this building during the difficult years of the Land Agitation.
As you enter the Chapel by the main door at the western end, the first impression is the neo- gothic style, everything points heavenwards, the arches, the ceiling, the windows and the finials.
“Laus Deo” or “Praise God” is the theme of the Chapel, and the decoration supports this theme with all of God’s creation portrayed praising God.
· The vegetable kingdom is illustrated in the wooden carved finials, each different, and each pointing heavenward praising God.
· The animal kingdom is represented in the stringcourse carvings above the Stations of the Cross.
· On the ceiling, the heavenly host is illustrated praising God.
· Meanwhile the carved oak choir stalls contain the students and staff of the College, raising their voices in praise.
Saint Mary’s Oratory is at the heart of the prayer life of seminarians. Adjacent to their living quarters, it is where the seminarians and the College community attend the daily celebration of the Eucharist and gather for morning and evening prayer.
Saint Mary’s Oratory was restored for the new Millennium of 2,000 to celebrate the great jubilee of the Lord’s birth. The new design involved the alignment of all major liturgical points (tabernacle, celebrant’s chair, altar, ambo and organ) along the spine of the east-west axis. This allows the liturgy to occupy the central worship space, with the private devotional area and tabernacle located on the western wall. We are indebted to Saint Joseph’s Young Priests Society for their help with this project.
Above the tabernacle (by Benedict Tutty), a tapestry of the Transfiguration (by Patrick Pye) occupies the wall between the two stained glass windows (by Earley Studios), and an abstract painting on canvas (by Kim En Joong) surrounds the Tabernacle. This ensemble, designed by the late Richard Hurley, creates an explosion of colour on the western wall, and presents a strong and prayerful focus, outside of the Eucharistic area.
Saint Mary’s Oratory is in the quadrangle designed by A W Pugin in the middle of the 1800’s. At that time, this space was used as a study hall. However, a disastrous fire in 1879 destroyed this portion of the College and when rebuilt it was turned into Saint Mary’s Oratory for the increasing number of students. This accounts for the plaster vaulting and panelled ceiling – quite different from what Pugin would have built thirty years before. Following Vatican II in the 1960’s, a poor modification was made, moving the altar to the centre of the long north wall. This had the effect of dividing the community in two, and was not satisfactory for the celebrant or the members of the congregation.
Beyond an elegant glade of Yew Trees in the park, lies the College Cemetery, first opened in 1817, with the entrance designed by William Haughton Beardwood.
The Yew is the ancient symbol of eternal life, so yew trees appropriately adorn the entrance to the cemetery. Some of those buried under magnificent Celtic Crosses made lasting contributions in Ireland and internationally.
Dr Nicholas Callan from County Louth, (1799 – 1864), invented the Induction Coil. The coil is still used in our cars, and enables a 12 volt battery to give us the large voltage required for the spark plugs each time we start.
Professors François Anglade (1758 – 1834) and Louis Delahogue (1739 – 1827) taught in the Sorbonne before the French Revolution, but refused ‘The Oath’ and had to leave France.
Dr Charles Russell from County Down (1812 – 1880) is very topical now following the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman, who wrote in his Apologia pro Vita Sua in 1864, that Dr Russell ‘had, perhaps, more to do with my conversion than anyone else’.
The youthful remains of Eoghan O’Growney from County Meath (1863 – 1899) are housed in the mausoleum designed by W A Scott in the style of the small chapel in Glendalough. O’Growney was professor of Irish, and was to found the Gaelic League with Douglas Hyde and Eoin MacNeill before he died of TB at the age of 36.
There are a number of students, Sisters and staff resting there too. Many of the students died of consumption, as tuberculosis was called at the time, and are remembered in the Classpieces of the time. The Sisters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul provided the healthcare for students and staff. The most recent burial was that of Maurice Dunne from Tralee (1939 – 2009). He had worked in the College since 1961 and died on his 70th birthday.
While the College was founded in 1795, the first to be buried in the new College Cemetery was Rev Francis Power from Cork (1737 – 1817), who was the first Bursar and Vice President, was appointed Professor of French in 1802, and died in 1817. Four members of the College staff, who died before 1817, were buried in Laraghbryan Cemetery on the Kilcock Road, west of the Campus.
· Rev Maurice Ahern from Kerry, (1735 – 1801), Professor of Dogmatic Theology
· Rev Clotworthy McCormick from Antrim, (d.1807), first Sacristan, who before coming to Maynooth was the last Abbot of Bangor Abbey, associated with St Comgall and St Malachy
· Rev Edwards Ferris from Kerry, (1738 – 1809), Dean & Professor of Moral Theology
· Rev Charles Lovelock from Galway (d.1814), Professor of Greek & Latin, Humanity & Rhetoric.
2.1.1. College Museum (link)
2.1.2. Pontifical University (link)
2.1.3. Irish Bishops’ Conference (link)
2.1.4. National Centre for Liturgy (link)
2.1.5. Russell Library (link)
2.1.6. National Board for the Safeguarding of Children in the Catholic Church (link)
2.1.7. Trócaire (link)
We're always fundraising to improve Saint Patrick’s College so why not donate and help make us better!