Multyfarnham Abbey, is a Fifteenth Century Franciscan Church in Co Westmeath still used by the Franciscans. An impressive place, it was a romantic ruin when drawn by George Petrie in 1821 but reoccupied in 1827, two years before Catholic Emancipation, as the parish church. This reused the nave and south transept shown here. The opposite transept beyond the two round headed openings, is a small side chapel dating from 1912. The choir, directly ahead, beyond the crossing of the tower, was rebuilt from 1975-77. It is clear that the plasterwork of the emancipation church was removed at that time and the stonework exposed to match the choir. The only clearly Victorian remnant is the dark timber ceiling with its tongue and groove boarding. It makes for a startlingly dark interior of brooding intensity enlivened by colourful altar furniture and then a contrasting choir full of light. To me it says 1970's brutalisim at its best- a strongly spiritual place using elemental materials to deliver a powerful atmosphere - but here it is given more depth and meaning by the clear history of its fabric such as windows from different periods and memorials attesting to the history and continuity of this congregation - a rare thing to see in a catholic church in Ireland. In the porch is a panel reflecting the efforts of the builders in the 1970's renovation and the sense of community effort is palpable in this. It is a place not to be missed if you are ever in the vicinity. I dare you to walk in and not be moved.
Marks of Time
Sketches of buildings in the North West of Ireland and further afield with a little information about their history.