Molly Lusk shares her memories of the Chapel and school.
May l share with you a journey ‘down memory lane’? My particular memory goes back to 1940, and the lane, one which was always referred to as ‘The Chapel Close’. Large iron gates flanked the entrance from the Main Street and l can‘t remember ever having seen them closed. The back of the Chapel House was divided into flower beds and in the corner where the garage now stands was a rockery and a vegetable plot. The extension, which was built on to the Chapel, now covers the site of a large open-fronted shed, used for storing coal etc. The house itself has changed very little over the years, apart from the addition of the back porch, and the conversion to a shower room of a tiny room which housed the hot water tank and an old cabin trunk in which the special, and seldom used vestments were kept.
A path of crazy paving led to a small gate set in a wooden fence. A wooden arch spanned the gate, over which rambler roses climbed in the summer time. There was no tarmac in the close then, and no paving stones by the Chapel wall, but flower borders ran along the full length of it. To describe the interior of the Chapel as it was then, I can only ask you to imagine it completely turned around. The side door was then the only entrance. On entry, facing the door was the stove, to the left of which was the organ and choir seats. From there, the pews ranged down to the altar rails which completely enclosed the altar, sacristy and confessional.
Adjoining the Chapel, and on the site of what is now the courtyard, was the little school. I seem to remember a door leading into it via the sacristy, but that isn‘t too clear in my mind. In any case, the main door to it led in from the close. I don’t remember much of the layout of the school room, apart from the little wooden desks and chairs, a blackboard on an easel, and the smell of chalk and old dust. For some time during the war years, the school became a storeroom for emergency rations for the area. The school brought us to the end of the Close, separated from a large field by a wooden gate. The field belonged to the Oliver family, who had a small farm directly over the Main Street. There were, of course, no houses in the close then, only the walled off gardens of the houses in the Main Street.
It was around 1950, in Dr. John Ward‘s time that the alterations were made to the Chapel, but the house remained the same until somewhere around 1970 when Father Michael Cassidy came to be our resident priest.
Though much has changed structurally, it’s comforting to see the original Stations of the Cross, our beautiful Chalice and Monstrance and the little Christmas Crib. The most important change to take place with the arrival of a resident priest was, of course, that of our Blessed Lord resting in His tabernacle, and the warm, welcoming glow of the Vigil Light.