This Sunday mark the 50th anniversary of the official opening of our church here in Newmarket on Fergus. On Sunday 2nd May 1971 Bishop Michael Harty blessed and dedicated the new church to the most Blessed Virgin Mary of the Rosary. It was built at a cost of £120,000 and was the first church in the diocese of Killaloe to be built according to the new directives following the Second Vatican Council. The church with its seven gables represent the one time seven parishes in this area; Kilmaleery, Fenloe, Kilconry, Clonloghan, Kilnasoolagh, Drumline and Bunratty. These seven ancient parishes were united in 1782.
The previous church was built in 1802, one of the first parish churches to be built after the relaxation of the Penal Laws. It was situated behind the present building and the Mission Cross erected to commemorate the Jesuit mission of 1856 stands near the main entrance to the old church. One of the resolutions of that mission was to start collecting funds to build a new and larger church. But times were bad and conditions throughout the country depressing and the project was postponed. The money collected was ultimately used to build a wall around the church with large piers and a gateway that now provides the entry to Lemenagh cemetery.
Bishop Harty, in his address at the dedication of the new church on the 2nd May 1971 , stated… “the priests and the people of this parish have been looking forward to this day for many years and I am happy and privileged to be sharing your joy in May, our Lady’s month, as we dedicate one of the most outstanding new churches of our time to Our Lady of the Rosary.” Referring to the gap of over a hundred years since the plan to build a new church was conceived he went on to say… “I have looked over the names of the committee that came together in 1856 and I find some of the same names among the parishioners today. This is an extraordinary example of the continuity of faith and family tradition in this parish. What your grandparents planned and dreamed about, you their grandchildren have achieved. I thank you and congratulate you on the faith, generosity and enthusiasm which have made this achievement possible.”
Fifty years later, on the 2nd May 2021, we give thanks for the dedication and generosity of the many who brought the project to completion and have given us a house of worship to be a focal point for the community. In that house we raise our minds and hearts to God in prayer, praise and thanksgiving as we walk intimately and easily with God and his Blessed Mother. Since we cannot assemble as a community right now because of the pandemic, we will plan a fitting celebration at a later stage when circumstances allow. In May 1971 a century old dream was finally realised. Our dream is that the same faithfulness and loyalty which brought it to fruition will continue to flourish in our dearly beloved parish community.