The famous skyline of Killybegs will be transformed on Monday, as a massive, 60 foot spire is finally put in place atop the Church of St Mary of the Visitation.
The event will mark the realisation of a dream that goes back over 175 years, as it was always the intention for the church to have both an apse and a spire. However, due to financial constraints, the church opened without either in 1844. Even the floor was incomplete at that stage, leading locals to bring hay to kneel on during that first Mass on Christmas Day.
Work started on the €2.5m refurbishment of the church last Easter Monday and, Tony O’Callaghan explains, the plan was to have the church open again in time for this year’s Easter celebrations.
“It’s a big development. The fundraising has been a challenge. So far, €1.7m of the €2.5m needed has been raised.
“The interior is virtually completed. They are still working on the roof and the spire has to go on, next Monday. That will be a big day for Killybegs and we expect big numbers of people to be out with their cameras.
“The addition of the 60ft, steel-ribbed spire will really dominate the skyline which will be changed forever after Monday but it’s a change that was part of the original plan.
“It should also make the tower watertight at last. The tower was never staunch, water was seeping down through the years and causing damage. Hopefully will sort that out.”
Most of the work should be completed by the end of April. First Communions and a number of weddings will be held in the church during the month of May and Bishop Boyce will perform the re-dedication of the building on Friday, June 1 at 7pm .
A commemorative booklet on the history of the church is being compiled, so if you have any stories or photos, please contact the parish office.