In 1854 the foundation stone of St. John’s Church was laid on the site of a chapel dating back to 1780. The ‘Chapel’ faced in the east-west direction. Some artifacts of the 1780 chapel have survived – the Holy Water font (Mortuary Chapel), Our Lady of the Wayside statue (near front porch on the outside), and the gables of the 18th century building, which are contained in the transepts of the present church. The building was completed, to the design of J.J. McCarthy, in 1861 with the erection of the Great Sanctuary window. In 1870 the tower and spire were added. The height of the spire is 200 feet.
Booklet On St. John’s Church entitled: ‘Church of St.John the Baptist, Tralee – A Visitors Guide’. This forty-page colour illustrated booklet outlines the history of St.John’s from the mid-nineteenth century to the present, including detailed descriptions of the architecture, stonework, stained glass, mosaic and sculpture in the church.
Copies available at € 5.00 at the Parish Centre
Stained Glass Windows in St. John’s Church
Stained glass is often referred to as the poor man’s Bible as it was used from the Early Middle Ages to illustrate scriptural stories and the lives of the saints to largely uneducated congregations. Interestingly, at least sixty-five fragments of glass, including some painted medieval pieces, were found during the excavations in Ardfert Cathedral in the 1990s. In more recent times, stained glass is viewed as a spectacular art form to enlighten, inspire, console and instruct those who look upon them.
This window, which ranks amongst the finest of its style in Western Europe, was completed in 1861. It is the work of Michael O’Connor (1801-1867). There are fourteen principal panels in the lower portion: these contain the figures of Christ the King, St. John the Baptist and the Twelve Apostles. A feature of this portion is that each Apostle is not only named but assigned an identifying symbol unique to himself. the panels in the upper portion represent the Annunciation, nine Choirs of angels and the Holy Spirit.
In 1960 the church took its present form after a major 10 year renovation scheme. A thirty foot extension was added to the Nave: the internal walls were stripped of their plaster and revealed stone was pointed. The 1990’s has seen a reordering of the sanctuary.
Over the entrance, on the inside, are two very interesting pieces of sculpture, (1) the higher of the two dates from the 13th century bearing the effigies of the two children said to be the twins of Thomas, 12th Earl of Desmond. (2) The aged Dean McEnnery (1824 – 54) hearing confessions of his parishioners during the famine.
The mosaic facing the entrance appropriately depicts the Baptism of Christ in the Jordan.
Western Transept (near Old Baptistry)
The windows, by Earley, depict the Transfiguration of Christ (1902) and the Adoration of the Magi. The Sculpture of the Crucifixion is from 1790.
The narrative window on the life of St. Brendan (Earley 1902) recalls the life and legends associated with him. The Medallions in the upper section contain representations of Ardfert Cathedral, St. Ita and Bishop Erc (his fosterer and educator respectively).
The Church of St. John the Baptist, Tralee is a 19th century Gothic-Revival Church. It places emphasis on height and pointed features for example the spire, pointed arces, lancet windows and the Baldacchino over the main altar. The body of the tower is local sandstone, and the octogonal spire is in limestone.
The Stations of the Cross are oil paintings by the late Sean Keating R.H.A. The Second Station ‘Jesus Carrying His Cross’ is by Gabriel Hayes (1959) and the Twelfth Station ‘The Crucified Christ’ is from 1790.
St. Brendan the Navigator
St Brendan and His Influence on the Community
A Chairde, Is mór an phribhleid ormsa bheith anseo inniu i bhur measc chun cupla focal a rá faoi Naomh Breandain agus an tionchar a bhí aige ar ár bpobaill.
Brendans life is well documented and I wouldn’t be best placed to comment on same. For context, I will mention that he was born locally in 484AD, was ordained by Bishop Eirc in 512AD- Established monasteries in Ardfert & Clonfert circa 560AD and he died in 578AD in Annaghdown in Co Galway almost 1500 years ago.
He sailed from Kerry undertaking a few voyages. Initially he returned each time and took on bigger challenges – gaining in confidence, travelling further each time and discovering new lands beginning with the Aran Islands, and then return journeys to Scotland, Wales and Brittany in a small boat known as a currach and then on a 7 year journey across the Atlantic. I believe that there are many parallels between St Brendans voyage 1500 years ago & our own journeys through life and perhaps we should take a moment to consider those as we examine Brendan’s connection & influence within our communities and in our lives.