ST BERNARD'S CHURCH
The new £80,000 parish church of Saint Bernard was officially opened and consecrated on Tuesday 25th June 1968 by the Bishop of Kerry Most Rev. Dr, Denis Moynihan.
The church was designed by Dan Kennedy architect, Tralee and stands on the site of the old church of Saint Bernard which was demolished in 1966. The church which was designed with the Vatican Council's decrees on the liturgy in mind incorporates some new and striking features. The baptismal font made of Galway limestone stands boldly out in the body of the church, this is to signify the prominent place that the sacrament plays in the life of the church.
The stations of the cross, which were displayed at this year's Oireachtas exhibition were designed and sculpted by Paul Meehan of Dublin. They are set to one side of the church to allow people to pray before them without interfering with the flow of traffic in either the centre or side aisles.
The filigreed copper cross breaking through a coating of liquid glass which hangs over the high altar was designed by Bro. Benedict Tutty of Glenstal Abbey. He also designed the sacristy lamp and baptismal font. The timber and steel roof of the church is carried on re-inforced concrete frames and by means of a series of steel portal frames concentrates the light on the main altar. As the bell tolled for the Angelus seven priests walked on to the altar of the new church and faced the people for the concelebration of mass. They were - Very Rev. D McCarthy, P.P., Abbeydorney, Very Rev. T. Cannon Sheehan, Leeds ( a native of the parish); Very Rev. G. Dillon, P.P., Caherdaniel; Very Rev. E. Stack, P.P. Ballydonoghue; Rev. D. O'Donovan, St. Brendans, Killarney; Rev. C. Nolan, Trinidad, ( a native of the parish), Rev. J. McKenna, C.C. Abbeydorney. Also on the altar were His Lordship the Bishop who was attended by Right Rev. Monsignor J. Lane, P.P., VG., Tralee, Dean of Kerry and Right Rev. Monsignor J. Moynihan, P.P. V.G. Millstreet. Rev. J. Shine, C.C., Ardfert acted as Master of Ceremonies. Rev. J. O'Keeffe, Secretary to the Bishop, Very Rev. T. Courtney, P.P., Causeway, Very Rev. E. O'Connor, P.P. Spa; Very Rev. J. Enright, P.P., Ballyheigue, Very Rev. E. Fitzpatrick, P.P. Ardfert, Rev. P. McAuliffe, C.C. Causeway, and Rev. J. Stack , Sydney also attended the ceremonies. The sermon was give by Very Rev. M O'Flaherty, President of St. Brendan's College, Killarney. Fr. O'Flaherty spole of the links between the new church and the ruins of the Abbey of Kyrie Eleison just outside the village.
"The Abbey of Kyrie Eleison was one of the first to be founded in Ireland by the followers of St. Bernard of Clairvaux" said Fr. O'Flaherty. "It was in this Abbey that the monks of the Cistercian Order came and settled. The people working in the fields around Abbeydorney must have come to know these white cloaked figures very well as they went about their daily chores". Fr O'Flaherty explained that it was through this link with the Cistercian Order that the new church, as well as the old,, had been dedicated to Saint Bernard. He said that it was fitting that when the old Church was dedicated in 1822 that a Fr. Eoin McCarthy was parish priest in Abbeydorney. Now that we are dedicating this new church we also have a Fr. McCarthy as parish priest. That simple Church has served the needs of the people for almost 150 years. He added that the new church would serve the needs of the people of Abbeydorney for generations to come.
In a sense this could be regarded as a first Mass. But let us not forget that tens of thousands of Masses have been celebrated on this very site and that the body of Christ has been administered to tens of thousands on this site", said Fr. O'Flaherty. Fr. O'Flaherty added that the increased prosperity of the Irish Catholic was reflected in the splendid builiding which the parishioners of Abbeydorney had erected. Many of the congregation may have tender memories of the old church and be sad to see its passing", he said, "but remember that the young people who are here today will see their children baptised and married in this church. Ir will be in this church too that mass will be offered for their departed souls. It will also be here, if they are luck enough, that someone will come to pray for them when they are dead".
Speaking at the conclusion of Mass, Most Rev. Dr. Moynihan, said that there were many features attractive but unusual, which set the Abbeydorney Church in a placeapart from the other Churchs in the Kerry Diocese. He thanked the parishioners for their co-operation and generosity and Fr. McCarthy, the parish priest, for having undertaken the work of constructing the new church. he complimented the architect on the design of this the first church in the Kerry Diocese for which he was responsible. The Bishop said that Mr Kennedy was now working on plans for a new church in that corner of Tralee which adjoins the parish of Abbeydorney. The Bishop also complimented the contractors, Messrs. Fitzgerald Bros. and their workmen, not alone on their work but also on the peace and harmony which prevailed from the start to the end of the project. Structural engineer of the church was Mr Maurice Walsh of Cork.