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Franciscan Church
© Franciscan Church

As the church was also in need of constant repair, it was decided to build a new church at the same location. Dr. Butler, Bishop of Limerick, laid the foundation stone for a new church on the same site on May 28th 1876. The builders were Messers. McCarthy and Guerin, and the architect of the church was William Corbett. This church was completed in 1886 and is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception. The church was extended and enlarged in 1930 when the present apse and sanctuary were added under the Guardianship of Fr Fridolin Fehily OFM. The architects were A.E. Jones and S.S. Kelly. The Most Rev. Dr. Keane DD, Bishop of Limerick on 12 December 1930, consecrated the new high altar. The apse of the church was not completed until 1942, in which year the lands behind the church were bought. The church is situated in St Michael's parish.

While visiting Ireland His Excellency, Most Rev. Giovanni Batista Montini, who was Papal under-secretary of State, said Mass in the Friary. He was later to become Pope Paul IV.

The façade of the church consists of four huge limestone pillars, which support an entablature and pediment. The statues on top of this are of St Francis, the Blessed Virgin Mary and St Anthony. Inside the church, large granite pillars support the nave. The clerestory consists of round-headed windows in sets of three, which are also supported by granite pillars. Around the walls of the clerestory are the words of a Latin hymn that the Franciscans used to sing.

Chapel to St Anthony
© Chapel to St Anthony

At the back of the left aisle of the church there is a stained glass window of St Bernardine of Siena, Italy. St Bernardine is known as the Apostle of Italy. Next to this is a painting that depicts different scenes of St Francis' life. It features the town of Assisi, St Francis receiving the Indulgence of Portiuncula from the Blessed Virgin and St Francis blessing Assisi before his death. Next, there is a stained glass window to St Louis of France and there is another stained glass window to St Elizabeth of Hungary who is Patroness of the Secular Franciscan Order (Third Order).

There is a chapel to St Anthony in the middle of the left-hand aisle that contains two phrases in Old Gaelic script. One phrase states "St Anthony preaching to the fish in Rimini". The second phrase commemorates the Miracle of the Blessed Sacrament.

Stained Glass Window of St Joseph and Child
© Stained Glass Window of St Joseph and Child

Further on this aisle there is a stained glass window to St Paschal Boylan OFM who was a Franciscan Brother. He is the Patron of Eucharistic Devotion. Joseph P. Lynch erected this stained glass window to the memory of the Lynch family. There is a mosaic of St Patrick expelling the snakes from Ireland. Mary B. Lynch presented this in memory of her parents and brothers. On the left of the main altar there is an altar to the Sacred Heart.

Mosaic of St Patrick  Mosaic Ceiling in Franciscan's Church
© Mosaic of St Patrick and Mosaic Ceiling in Franciscan's Church

The apse of the church is tiled with coloured marbles and mosaics. The mosaics and marble work were carried out in Venice and Pietra Santa. The ceiling of the apse depicts the granting of the Portiuncula Indulgence by Our Lord to St Francis. A number of Franciscan saints are also depicted on the ceiling of the apse. They are (from left to right) St Bonaventura, St Bernardine, St Clare, St Agnes, and St Louis of France and St Elizabeth of Hungary. The central panel shows Mary Immaculate.

Altar in Franciscan's Church
© Altar in Franciscan's Church

To the left of the main altar, there is a statue of St Joseph and the Infant Jesus, while to the right of the altar, there is a statue of St Francis. Further right, there is a side altar to the Immaculate Conception.

In the right aisle near the entrance of the church, there is a stained glass window of St Leonard of Port Maurice, who was a Franciscan friar. St Leonard is the patron saint of Missions & Retreats and he is also responsible for the Devotion of the Stations of the Cross as we know it today. St Leonard died in 1751.

Blessed Pope John XIII
© Blessed Pope John XIII

On the right wall, there is a stained glass window to St Anthony and the Child of Jesus. The window was erected by Michael Coffey in memory of his father John and his sister Augustine, who died in 1861 and 1889 respectively. There are also stained glass windows to St Bonaventure, St Claire of Assisi and St Francis. Under the stained glass window to St Francis, there is a shrine to Blessed Pope John XIII.

St Bonaventure  
© St Bonaventure and St Clare
St Francis  St Paschal Baylon
© St Francis and St Paschal Baylon

There is a stained glass window of the Sacred Heart and St Margaret Mary Alacoque, which was erected by Catherine Mary Roche in memory of her parents. St Margaret Mary Alacoque was a French nun to whom the Sacred Heart revealed the devotion of the First Fridays and the 12 Promises.

There is also a stained glass window of St Joseph and the Infant Jesus. Mrs. O'Kelly erected this window in memory of her husband Daniel who died May 14 1886 and her son Joseph who died on August 1st 1887. There is a shrine to Matt Talbot at the top of the aisle under this stain glass window.
Towards the top of the right aisle, there is a stained glass window of Mary ascending into Heaven. Catherine Mary Roche donated this window to the memory of her husband John who died on November 15 1858. The window was erected in 1883. The Catholic Literary Institute donated the statue of St Joseph in 1908, while the statue of St Francis was erected in 1931.

Shrine to Matt Talbot
© Shrine to Matt Talbot

The church has been renovated twice since its completion, in 1928/30 and in 1968 after the Second Vatican Council. At the base of the high altar there is Latin inscription on the stone which when translated reads:

This Church was dedicated to the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary on 18 May 1876 by Most Rev. Dr. Gregory Butler, Bishop of Limerick.

The Guardian at the time of the dedication was Fr Bonaventure McDermott OFM.

We would like to thank Br. Bonaventure Ward OFM for giving us information on the details of the Franciscan church.

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