The first of the Rosary Churches to be completed was the Church of the Ascension, Gurranabraher, in 1955. The second was completed the following year, the Church of the Assumption, Ballyphehane.
While Gurranabrahar is visibly to the north of the city, Ballyphehane is one of the most successful of the mid-twentieth century planned suburbs to the south of the city and is the 'airport parish'. The names of the streets, after the leaders of Irish independence, reflect the era of the suburb's creation. Thus, for example, the Church of the Assumption is on Pearse Road.
The architect, J.R. Boyd Barrett, a dubliner, began his extensive Cork practice with the amazingly modernist Church of Christ the King, Turner's Cross, in 1931, a little to the east of Ballyphehane. Dr. Coholan, Bishop Lucey's predecessor, had a radical streak despite his arch-conservative reputation. As with his earlier 'Rosary' commission at Gurranabraher, Boyd Barrett was commissioned to design both Church and Parochial houses. He also designed the nearby school. Compared with his earlier work in Turner's Cross and Gurranabrahar, the Church at Ballyphehane is restrained and even conventional basilican form, but in the modern idiom.
For Kildare and Leighlin readers, they may see a similarity of the style with Boyd Barrett's only Church in that Diocese, at Daingean, Co. Offaly (1960). He was also responsible for the extension to the Church in Mountmellick, Co. Laois (1965), and for alterations in Stradbally and Vicarstown, Co. Laois (both 1963).
Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for us!
First published on the St. Conleth's Catholic Heritage Association blog in October, 2010.