Fr. Turner and the building of the
Church of St. Patrick & St. Bridget, Clane

In 1873, Fr. Patrick Turner the Parish Priest of Rhode in Co. Offaly was appointed Parish Priest of Clane. The Parish Chapel in Clane at the time was situated between the Gate leading to the present church and the front entrance into the church.

This Chapel had been built in 1805 and by the1870s was in poor repair with props having had to be put up under the gallery. It was also a small Parish Chapel, built for a parish the size of Clane.

Fr. Turner decided to build a new Parish Church complete with a steeple. A suitable site in the centre of the Village which would dominate the skyline was envisaged.

Photo of Clane Church

The site that was chosen was at the back of the Parish Chapel and was a garden owned by the Presentation Sisters and attached to the Convent. The plan was to build the new Church on that site and then demolish the older Chapel to allow access from the street.

However a new long term lease would have to be obtained for the site and from the spring of 1874 Fr. Turner worked tirelessly to obtain this. It was not until the Summer of the following year that he secured a new 999 year lease for the proposed church site. Work then got under way, and the first job was to develop a new entrance into the site, which was carried out in September 1875.

The next job was to employ a leading architect. William Hague who had emerged as an up and coming architect was chosen. At the time he was working on the designs of many churches including the Carmelite Church in Kildare Town.

Fundraising in the parish got underway with Fr. Turner assisted by the support of his parishioners. The site was cleared, preparation work was undertaken, and in 1876 the foundation stone was laid.

Many local tradesmen and labourers were employed in the building project. The stone was quarried locally in Marmions Quarry and lime was obtained from the Lime Kiln in Donadea.

From the time the foundation stone was laid it took eight years to complete. The consecration and opening ceremony took place in August 1884. At that time 7000 had been spent and a further 2,500 was required to complete the building to its original design, including a tower and spire at the southern entrance. This however, was found to be too costly and was not carried out.

The ceremony of dedication was performed by the Dr. Lynch, Coadjutor Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin. The new Church was named St. Patrick and St. Bridget after the patron saints of Ireland and Kildare.

However, there was also a local reason as two important sites close to the Church in Clane were associated with St. Patrick and St. Bridget.

Sunday’s Well at the Moat just off the Sallins road in Clane was also known as St. Patrick’s Well, and at the time there was an annual pattern to a Well. At the time there was a Holy Well dedicated to St. Bridget on the Dublin Road, just outside Clane, which was an ecclesiastical site of importance.

Clane Church wasn’t Fr. Turner’s only legacy; in 1858 when he was a curate in Goresbridge he assisted in founding a Brigidine convent. In the mid-1880s he gave his blessing for sporting events to be held on the Sabbath in his parish. This paved the way for the GAA to be established at an early date in Clane.

Fr. Turner died in 1889 at the age of 79 and was interred in the vaults of the Church.