Church of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Midleton
The church of Saint John, which stood on the site now occupied by St. Mary’s High School, was built in 1808 to replace the small thatched Chapel of the Blessed Virgin, c1750. A constant outlay for repairs to the roof of the Church of St. John saw the need for a new Church.
Dr William Hutch, President of St. Colman’s College Fermoy, on becoming parish priest of Midleton in 1892 got the support of the people to build a new parish Church. An agreement was drawn up with Lord Midleton on the 18th July 1893 to purchase a plot of ground, over three acres, valued at £295 as a site for the new Church and cemetery. A seventeen member committee charged with the building of the new Church sought tenders for six foot walls surrounding the site by September 1893 and for the Church itself by January 1894.
George Coppinger Ashlin (1837 -1921) the leading Church architect of the time designed a new building in what is known as the Gothic style. Simply put, this style featured pointed arches and favoured height and more and bigger windows. A feature of the Gothic style is the timber roof resting on corbels, decorated stone projections, which convey the weight of the roof to the walls. In Holy Rosary there are two sets of corbels, one placed between the arches and the other set higher up between the rose windows. The separate stones or bricks of the arches are arranged in curved lines to retain their position by natural pressure. The pillars of Aberdeen granite give rest and resisting points to the arches. The outer walls of the Church are built of unusually shaped but perfectly fitting local limestone. The contract for the building was awarded to Jeremiah J Coffey & Son whose workforce based at the Coolbawn employed 14 stone cutters, 20 carpenters and over 40 other workers. The cost of the building and furnishings was £19, 920 at the time of the Dedication on October 14th 1896.
On a rainy Sunday, 13th May 1894, Archbishop Croke blessed the seven and a half ton foundation stone, the four corners, and the place of the high altar which was marked by a wooden cross. Dr Croke, a curate in Midleton (1853-1857), also had the privilege of performing the Dedication Ceremony. High Mass for the Dedication was celebrated by Bishop Browne and the sermon was preached by Cardinal Logue of Armagh.
Due to financial pressures it was decided not to build the spire and as a result the tower was roofed. Following a public meeting in April 1906 the Church Building Committee was reappointed, funds raised and a spire including a bell named Dominic was completed by June the 1st 1908. Cannon Hutch died in 1917 and the Mortuary Chapel (now the Adoration Chapel) dedicated to his memory was built in 1922.
The Consecration of the Holy Rosary Church, marked by the cross and candle holder beneath each Station of the Cross, took place on Sunday 7th October 1928. On a day of incessant rain Bishop Browne presided and in his sermon said, “This magnificent Church is a credit to the zeal of the clergy and people of Midleton and for all time will stand as a memorial to what this generation and their forefathers did for God”.