St. James’ Church

St. James’ Roman Catholic Church

Fr. Thomas Lawlor became Parish Priest of Killorglin in January 1884.

Fr Thomas Lawlor

He inherited a parish church that dated back to Penal times (1790s) and a school built before the Famine (1838/39). In October 1886 Fr. Lawlor undertook a 10-month fundraising tour of diaspora Killorglin communities on the east coast of the USA to finance the building project.

Walter Doolin, a Dublin-based architect, designed the building which initially included a spire. Daniel Devlin was offered the contract on a tender of £7,500. The foundation stone was laid on September 6, 1888, by Bishop Higgins, and the work started apace.

The limestone and lime mortar were horse drawn from the Steelroe Lime Quarries. Huts were erected in the grounds where the stonecutters dressed and shaped the stone for their various positions. The brown sandstone, also horse-carted, was from Tralee Mountain, dressed according to plans and fitted in place for the stone masons. The slate for the roof was purchased from the Ormond Slate Company of Carrick-on-Suir.

The dedication ceremony was performed by Bishop Coffey on Sunday, May 3, 1891. At that point the church was far from complete, with much internal fitting out – altar, railings and furnishings etc. – yet to be installed. By September 1909 £14,628 had been spent on the project. Fr. Thomas Lawlor died in July 1916 and was buried beneath Our Lady’s Altar.

The proposed convent and presbytery were never built and so Fr. Lawlor’s plans were not fully realized. Yet, by any standard, his achievements were immense. The people of Killorglin have reason to remember his dedication and zeal. St. James’ Church is a fitting monument to this outstanding pastor./p>

At the turn of the millennium a “Fr. Tom Lawlor Memorial Committee” was established to commemorate the immense contribution of Fr. Lawlor to the revitalisation of Killorglin parish. This took the form of the adjacent bust of Fr. Lawlor – unveiled and blessed on Saturday, November 1st, 2003 – and a book Saint James and Father Tom – A Saint and his Priest.