St. Mary’s Catholic Church
St. Mary’s is the Roman Catholic parish Church of Rathkeale. Located on Rathkeale’s highest hill, and with an impressively tall spire, St. Mary’s may be seen from many miles away when approaching Rathkeale. Access is up a long stone stairway from the R518 or from the flatter aspect on Thomas Street. The adjacent graveyard is the resting place of many prominent families from Rathkeale. Graves date back to 1870. The well publicised Holy Stump of Rathkeale is also in the Church grounds.
St. Mary’s is a fine example of Church architecture in the Gothic Revival style, designed by J.J. McCarthy. Construction started in 1866 on a site donated by the Magnor family. Building was completed in 1881, with the Church bell installed a year later. The peal of bells still rings out across the town today.
Prior to St. Mary’s, Rathkeale had a modest thatched house of worship in Chapel Lane. The current church’s fine stonework is complemented by many beautiful features inside the building. There is a shrine to Jesus on the Cross and side altars dedicated to the Sacred Heart and Virgin Mary. The Stations of the Cross, several plaques and an array of stained-glass windows throughout the church commemorate past priests, many donors and are intended to inspire spiritual reflection.
The gravestones in the adjacent burial ground have been inventoried and are available for online search.
June 2019 by the Rathkeale Community Council. Pictures by Rathkeale Image & Tourism Committee.