County Tipperary church celebrates its 200th anniversary with pride and style

Holy Trinity Church Fethard Bicentenary Celebrations

Back: Fr. Eugene Everard, Canon Tom Breen, Archbishop Kieran O'Reilly, Fr. Liam Everard, Fr. Iggy O'Donovan. Front: Aoibheann Collum, Meadbh Collum, Giovanna Aguiar, Emily Spillane.

The community of Holy Trinity R.C. Parish Church Fethard came together in a joyful celebration of its Bicentenary last Sunday, June 9, 2019.

Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly was present to concelebrate Mass at 11 am to honour the 200th Anniversary. Fr. Liam Everard P.P., Fr. Tom Breen, A.P., Fr. Iggy O’Donovan OSA, Prior, Augustinian Abbey and Fr. Eugene Everard, P.P. Tipperary Town, were also present on the altar. This Mass was the culmination of various events arranged throughout the year to celebrate the foundation of the church which opened on Holy Trinity Sunday 1819. 

Fr. Liam Everard, P.P. welcomed everyone, giving thanks for the gift of faith passed on faithfully over the past two hundred years and expressing the hope that the same faith will continue to nourish and support the church community in the future.

In a ceremony rich with symbolism, the Mass began with the bringing to the altar of gifts representing various aspects of the church’s history.

Mrs Rosemary Ponsonby and her son Julian brought the keys of the church recollecting the donation of the church site by their ancestor William Barton, the Protestant landlord of the time, who also donated 100 guineas towards building costs.

Secondary school pupils Ciarán and Cathal, accompanied by former teacher Mr. Dinny Burke, brought up the ceramic replicas of Fethard’s three medieval wooden statues that they had made during the year.

Photographed at the Bicentennial Mass in Holy Trinity Parish Church Fethard are from left: Paddy Kenrick, Clonmel and formerly Burke Street), Archbishop Kieran O'Reilly, Frances (née Kenrick) Hetterley and David Hetterley. Frances and David travelled over from Hereford, England, for the occasion.

Mrs Mary Carroll brought up the Baptismal register commemorating all those baptised in the church as well as the generosity of the Carroll family who donated the church organ in 1886. Local wood sculptor, David Gorey, brought up the beautifully carved wooden plaque he made, surmounted with the symbol of the Holy Trinity and oak leaves representing Fiodh Árd.  The plaque records the names of all the parish priests who served in Fethard in the last two hundred years.

Mr. John Stokes brought up a chalice engraved with the name of Fr. Daniel Ryan dated 1893, remembering also early benefactors of the church, Mrs Ellen Coyne who donated the High Altar in memory of her brother Dr. John Stokes in 1883 and Patrick Coffey, Main Street who donated the side altars. Finally, Mrs Margaret Slattery presented the Commemorative Booklet published by the parish committee to celebrate the Bicentenary of Holy Trinity Parish Church. 

On this Pentecost Sunday, the Archbishop’s address spoke of the need for all to invoke the Holy Spirit in speaking the language of the heart comprising forgiveness, love and understanding. Gathering to celebrate two hundred years of Holy Trinity Church in Fethard he said that while he church of the future may indeed be very different from that of two hundred years ago, the key to how we rise to the challenges inherent in finding new ways of being church is in trying to use that language of the heart in our daily lives. 

Four first Holy Communion children from Holy Trinity N.S. Fethard and Killusty N.S. brought up the gifts of bread and wine at the Offertory.

Archbishop Kieran O'Reilly with members of the Ponsonby family, Grove, Fethard. Julian Ponsonby, Archbishop Kieran O'Reilly, Rosemary Ponsonby and Patricia Ponsonby. Rosemary Ponsonby and her son Julian brought the keys of the church to the altar of gifts during the Mass, representing various aspects of the church’s history. It recollected the donation of the church site by their ancestor William Barton, the Protestant landlord of the time, who also donated 100 guineas towards building costs.

The choir, under the baton of Ms Ann Barry, comprised the combined forces of the Parish Choir, Fethard Choral group, Abbey Choir and the Killusty Choir. They rose to the occasion with a wonderful performance of a wide and varied selection of church music finishing with the rousing recessional ‘Walk in the Light’.

In conclusion, Fr. Liam Everard thanked all those who had contributed to the celebration. He mentioned especially Goldie Newport who has served so faithfully for so many years as the organist in the Parish Church, continuing a long-established family tradition. He also invited the congregation to the Fethard Ballroom for refreshments after the ceremony.

Copies of the Commemorative Bicentenary booklet were distributed free as people left the church. Further copies are available from members of the Parish Committee.  The Bicentenary Mass was streamed live on the internet worldwide and is now available to view in the ‘Recordings’ section at