“This is a place of awe; his is God’s house, the gate of Heaven, and it shall be called the royal court of God”
[Taken from the Entrance Antiphon for the dedication of a church]
The Church of the Holy Spirit was blessed and opened on 3rd December 1967, giving the people of Ballyroan a very beautiful, modern church and adding a new chapter in the long history of the ancient parish of Rathfarnham from which the parish of Ballyroan was constituted in 1968. Canon Tom O’Donnell, PP Rathfarnham was in charge of the building of the church and became the first parish priest of Ballyroan.
The church has the traditional cruciform plan but the constructional expression is completely modern. The transepts accommodate a large proportion of the congregation near the altar. Several features combine to make the sanctuary a very beautiful focal point for liturgical worship and prayer, affording a pleasing harmony of light, colour, design and space. The lighting at high level into the church through a strip of stained glass at each gable of the church isolates all the major walls from the arches and is very striking.
The altar of white Carrara marble is placed well forward in the sanctuary. The marble screen [designed by the architect] behind the altar enshrines the tabernacle with its own canopy and has a dual symbol of the Tree of Life and the Cross of Christ.
The modern crucifix over the tabernacle was designed and executed by Imogen Stuart in the medieval technique of poly-chromed carved wood. The softly muted glow from the full length glass windows on either side of the altar adds colour and warmth.
The walls in the transepts are notable for two original and magnificent murals by the world famous Irish artist, Seán Keating, RHA who lived nearby. These show the Baptism of Christ in the Jordan and The Descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. All of the work in the planning, drawing, trials and composition took place in his studio. The artist himself placed them on the walls, finishing the work on top of a forty feet high scaffold, though, in his own words, he was “…rather old for this kind of game.” He considered it a happy job and one of his best works [especially the second piece].
The life-size stained-glass Stations of the Cross by John Murphy are unique and beautiful. In the daytime they provide the church with sufficient lighting for general use when no ceremonies are taking place. (See Photo Gallery which contains photographs of the windows)
A bronze symbol of the Holy Spirit surrounds the main entrance doors that are sheeted with bronze and have the words: “Come O Holy Spirit fill the hearts of thy faithful” hammered on them. They also have specially cast bronze handles depicting Pentecost in pattern form. Twenty feet high silver birch trees were specially transplanted in front of the main façade to soften the lines of the structure – they still thrive today!
The spire of tubular steel with plywood and copper is a landmark. It is supported at four points only at the apex of the roof. The cross on top is one hundred feet above ground level.
Considerable refurbishment: re-panting of the interior, improvements to the grounds, electrical work, a new heating system, fire and safety measures has been carried out in the new millennium. The most recent have included the removal of the altar rails and the relocation of the splendid baptismal font to a more central position near the sanctuary and the installation of a ramp to give easy access to the sanctuary.
The architect was Raymond F Mac Donnell, B.Arch, MRIAI associated with engineer, Donald St J Keogan, MA, MAI, DIC. The main contractor was Laurence Murray & Sons Ltd.
May all who visit here be blessed and give thanks. Many benefactors and voluntary helpers have given generously to this church over the years and our parish is grateful to them. We are also grateful to all who still share their talents and time in many different ways to enhance the beauty, order, worship and service of God’s house for the people of Ballyroan and the wider community.
“Open to me the gates of righteousness, hat I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it. I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation(Ps 118:19-20, NRSV).”
For more photographs of the Church please visit the photo gallery