The fourth of the Cork Rosary Churches was completed in 1960 and dedicated to the Descent of the Holy Ghost it is sometimes also known as the Church of the Holy Spirit, Dennehy's Cross. It was the seventh new Church in Cork, of a total of eleven, designed by J.R. Boyd Barrett and the third of the four Rosary Churches built to his design. It is to the west of the Church of the Assumption, Ballyphehane, and to the south of the Church of the Ascension, Gurranabraher.
To my eye, it is the best of the Rosary Churches and certainly the most conventional. Compared with Boyd Barrett's first Cork Church at Turner's Cross it represents a great retreat from modernism. In materials and basic elements it is very like the Franciscan Church in Liberty Street completed in 1955, just two years before construction of the Church of the Descent of the Holy Ghost began, except for neo-baroque elements that the single central dome is more articulated and the facade is faced in stone while the body of the Church is completed in brick.
The Parish's website states the following: "Our church is situated at the junction of two very busy thoroughfares, Model Farm Road and Wilton Road in the western suburbs of Cork city. Built as one of a rosary of churches on the edge of the city, as it was at that time, it is dedicated to the Holy Spirit.
Built on an old quarry and some adjoining pasture land, the site was blessed by the Bishop of Cork, Dr. Cornelius Lucey in November 1956 and four years later the site had been transformed: a large brick and limestone church with its distinctive dome rising 140 feet [42.67m], designed by J.R.Boyd Barrett and built by Pat Shea & Co., now dominated by the surrounding area.
The Church of Descent of the Holy Spirit, with a seating capacity for 1,100, was blessed and opened on Sunday, 25th September 1960, the feast of St. Finbarr, patron saint of the diocese, by Dr. Lucey
The dedication of the Church of the Holy Spirit, the first in Ireland, was highlighted by the magnificent Pentecost altar mosaic, which was designed and executed by the Italian artist Romeo Battistella, who was attached to International Mosaics of Roscommon.
The church is neo-classical in style with a plan of a Latin cross with nave and transepts, 193 feet [58.83m] long and 98 feet [29.87m] wide. A large bronze lantern stands on top of the copper-sheeted dome, surmounted by a 24-foot [7.32m] high cross. The design is reputed to have been influenced by the churches Dr. Lucey had seen during his visit to the Eucharistic Congress in Spain.
The sanctuary mosaic depicts the events of Pentecost, Acts.2: 1-4"
Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for us!
First published on the St. Conleth's Catholic Heritage Association blog in October, 2010.