Did you Know ?
The land on which the church now stands was bought in 1911 and the presbytery was built in 1912. The remainder of the site was cultivated as allotments by two parishioners -- Mr Michael Harrington and Mr Jeremiah Canty.
In 1917 Monsignor H Irvine became parish priest and began to raise funds for the building of the new church. It was not until 1926 that enough money was raised to enable the first steps towards the building of the new church could take place.
The architects were D C Goldie and Partners of Westminster and the contract for the building was awarded to E Turner and Sons of Havelock Place, Grangetown, who promised to employ as much local labour as possible. However, the next four years were to prove a nightmare for the parishioners and builders alike.
Turners appointed a parishioner, Mr George Barnett ( father of parishioner Mary McAleavy) as their general foreman at the new Church site. He lived in Llanmaes Street, just two doors away and was able to pass on much information about the building, especially the problems the builders experienced in reaching a ‘solid bottom’ on which to lay the foundations.
As they dug deeper through the mud, they came across skeletons of fish and crabs, which show that at some time in the past, sea water ( probably tides) covered the ground.
Below where the piety stall is, extra deep foundations were built to support the planned ( but never built) bell tower.
By the end of 1928 the foundations and footings were well advanced , although the increased cost of having to excavate so deeply was causing some concern to both the Architect and Canon Garrett, the now Parish Priest, as correspondence which passed between them at the time shows.
Matters were made worse as Britain moved ever more deeply into Depression, and unemployment rose rapidly which had an adverse effect on Parish income and its ability to finance the building costs.
The foundation stone which is on the left just outside the front door of the Church was laid by Doctor Dennis Cantillon in the presence of Archbishop Mostyn and about 4,000 men from all the Catholic Parishes of Cardiff on the Feast Day of St Patrick March 17th 1929.
From then on work proceeded very quickly, and exactly one year later, on St Patrick’s Day 1930, the new Church was opened.
The total cost of the building excluding that of the High Altar, Communion Rails and Pulpit was £11,800 and there was accommodation for 750 people. The High Altar, Communion Rails and Pulpit were donated by the Cantillon Family to whom they are a memorial.
The Western Mail of Tuesday March 18th 1930, reporting on the opening ceremony of the previous day said that
“The style has been kept as simple and as free from ornament as possible, but there is scope for future decoration.”
Indeed there was scope for future decoration, but, the extra cost of the foundations and a short-fall of money generally , had caused the Parish Priest, Canon Garrett, to remove almost every item of decoration from the final scheme including the provision of side-altars. Both the Sacred Heart and Our Lady's Altar were brought from the old church and even the organ was a second-hand one bought from a private house in Dinas Powis.
In a very sad letter to Canon Garrett from the architect, Mr Downie explained that the removal of the bell-tower would not bring about the savings that Canon had hoped for because most of the cost was in the foundations which were already in place.
However, many of the parishioners were of the view that the beauty of the new Church lay in its very simplicity and lack of ornamentation which seemed to focus attention on the magnificent High Altar.
We look at this Altar every time we come to Church, but do we see what is there? It is constructed of Portand Stone and Marble. The back panels on either side of the Tabernacle contain eight mosaics showing the final hours of Jesus' life before the Crucifixion.
The altar rails consisted of Portland Stone arches, topped with marble slabs.
The pulpit was very impressive. Its platform held up with stone and marble colums contained three large mosaics. To the front a large mosaic contained the monogram I H S which is another name for Jesus. The side mosaics were representations of Saints Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the writers of the four Gospels which were proclaimed from the pulpit.
Dr Cantillon's generosity to St Patrick's Church did not end with his death. In his will he provided a small income to the Parish, which is why from time to time you will see in the Mass intentions, in the newsletter, a mass for the Cantillon family.
At the opening of the Church the estimated number of parishioners was 4,000, there were three resident priests and four Masses each Sunday.
Footnote: In 1971 when the Church was remodelled , the Communion rails in front of the High Altar were taken down and a section incorporated into the design of the present free-standing altar. The pulpit was also taken down and its mosaic panels used to decorate the front of the Sacred Heart/ Blessed Sacrament Altar, next to the Sacristy.
The opening of our new Church meant that plans could now be made to utilise the old Church building ( which adjoined the old school) in Durham Street for three additional classrooms.
The sanctuary became the Head Teacher's office and the sacristy was converted into a stock room.
The new rooms were used by the senior classes and went some way to ease the overcrowding which had brought criticism from the school inspectors in 1927.
Those who remember the old church will be interested to know that the painted panels that formerly overhung the High Altar were taken down and remounted in the assembly hall of the present school in 1979.
A feature of the new Church was the introduction of pew (bench) rents, where, for an annual payment, parishioners could have a bench or part of a bench reserved for their use. These benches were at the front of the Church and had name plates on them. These plates were removed in 1955.
Canon Garret, the parish priest died in 1936 and was succeeded by Canon Thomas Phelan who came from St Teilo's Whitchurch. One of his first decisions was to discontinue the practice of some parishioners endowing stained glass windows in memory of their families, on the grounds that 'they make the Church gloomy.'
However, Canon Phelan would soon have far more serious problems to contend with.
Grateful thanks to Mr Joe O'Reilly.