|Early 20th Century postcard of the two churches via Tomás Sullivan|
We have spoken before about Faithlegg Church, built in 1824 under the direction of the new landlord to Faithlegg, Nicholas Mahon Power. Nicholas died 1873, which corresponded to completion of a refurbishment, similar in most respects to the church that we see today including its impressive spire and belfry. But the work was not without it’s problems and thanks to a legal squabble afterwards(1), we can now look more closely into the project.
|A modern view of the spire. Photo credit Hannah Doherty|
As often occurs, not long into the building project new ideas surfaced. It was claimed the Power sisters, Nicholas’ daughters, cajoled their father into extending the build. The plan for an 80 foot spire was increased to 120 foot. It was claimed in court that this was to compete with a neighbouring church and to ensure Faithlegg would be more beautiful, more imposing and to ensure it would outshine it. Nicholas it was said was not known for “being liberal when it came to improvements” but the ladies got around him to “flatter their tastes”.
|The gallery and behind the doors the private seating area of the Power family.
Photo credit Hannah Doherty
But the demands were not yet finished. Apparently a belfry was an after thought. As it was at this point a new bell was requested costing £75 and an extra £10 to hang it. And still more adornments to to the spire costing £44 12s, which one imagines must have been the alteration and louvered timbers to emit the sound. The work was completed by a new mausoleum to the family and a walled in space to set it apart from the rest. This was said to cost £30. Still to be seen on the right as you walk in the main gates.
Although some of his workmanship was called into question in court the Buildings of Ireland has stated in their appraisal “…The construction of the tower attests to high quality local stone masonry and craftsmanship, which is especially evident in the fine carved detailing throughout…” And whatever the claims in court in relation to the wants and desires of Nicholas’ daughters, and the spire that spiralled out of control, their vision and resolve to cajole their aging father has left us a building that is a gem and has become one of the countries wedding venues of choice.
If you have a story, an insight or a family connection to Faithlegg or the house you can contact me by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
(1) Waterford Standard 19th July 1876. P.2.
(2) For the work described this seems a small sum.