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Diocese of Cashel, Ferns and Ossory

Celebrating the restoration of the Lady Chapel in St Laserian’s Cathedral, Leighlin

St Laserian’s Cathedral, Leighlin – ‘A liturgical laboratory in a large room’

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The Service

On a balmy evening of Trinity Sunday 15th June, the multitudes gathered to St Laserian’s Cathedral in Leighlin for the Service of Thanksgiving to mark the restoration of the Lady Chapel and the Installation of the Venerable Andrew Orr as Archdeacon of Leighlin.

The Service was led by the Dean, the Very Revd Tom Gordon in the presence of the Bishop of Cashel, Ferns & Ossory, the Rt Revd Michael Burrows.

The singing was led by the Choir of Saint Nicholas Collegiate directed by Mark Duley with organist Ronan De Burcha.

The Preacher was the Reverend Professor Liam Tracey OSM from Maynooth.

The cathedral was at capacity and included parishioners, friends, and those from the wider ecumenical community and also the newly elected Mayor of Carlow, Cllr John Pender.

Following the gathering of God’s People in the cathedral the evening candles were lit during the singing of the canticle ‘Phos Hilaron’ by Stainer.  The Choir and ministers processed to the hymn ‘All people that on earth do dwell’.

Installation of the Archdeacon

There followed the installation of the new Archdeacon with the Registrar the Revd Tim Irvine reading the Mandate and the Dean leading the Ven. Andrew Orr to his stall in the chancel.

The Ministry of the Word was led by Mr George Kidd of the Cathedral Development Committee and Ms Ellen Atkinson a parishioner of the Cathedral and the Gospel was read by the newly installed Archdeacon.


In his address the Revd Professor Liam Tracey talked of the function of a cathedral both in times gone by and also today.

Dedication of the Lady Chapel

The dedication and Act of Thanksgiving for the restoration of the Lady Chapel took place.  The churchwardens, Mark Wenman and Andrew Marshall, petitioned the Bishop to carry out the task to which the Bishop acceded ‘right gladly’. The Choir sang Charles Wood’s ‘Magnificat’.

The Intercessions were led by young parishioners recently confirmed: Brian Atkinson, Melanie Griffith and Agnes Wenman.

Cutting the tape

At the conclusion of the service a tape was ceremoniously cut by Mrs Elizabeth Tomkins to open the newly refurbished Lady Chapel. She was assisted by Ellen Atkinson and Adam Watchorn, grandchildren of John Atkinson and Sam Rigley, both prominent cathedral parishioners who had died recently and who would have been delighted to see the restoration work complete and to have been present at the thanksgiving liturgy. Both had been hugely involved in earlier years in the maintenance of the cathedral and in fund-raising

Mrs Tomkins was presented with a bouquet of flowers by Ms Roisin Wenman.

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St Laserian’s

A monastic church was founded on the site by St Gobhan in the 7th Century.  His successor, Saint Laserian, was instrumental in establishing the Rome observance of the date of Easter for the Irish Church. The cathedral dates from the 12th Century with the later addition of the 16th Lady Chapel, transepts and tower.

New facilities

Now with the Lady Chapel restored with modern facilities it can boast the provision of hospitality amenities, disabled access and new sound and lighting systems which will expand the use of the cathedral for the purposes of tourism, education and cultural events, in addition to its ongoing presence as a place of worship and prayer.



There has been generous support of those individuals and organisations which has enabled the project to reach its present stage of completion.  In particular the County Carlow Development Partnership (Leader Programme) has been the principal source of funding.

Funding over the years has been Carlow County Council, the Heritage Council, the Vigor’s Bequest, Priorities’ Fund, the Marshall Beresford Fund, the Representative Church Body, the Department of Heritage and the Environment, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland and the Kathleen Day Fund.


Acknowledgments by the Dean

In his words afterwards the Dean thanked everyone who had been involved in the extensive work; he paid tribute and made presentations in particular to Ms Margaret Quinlin (Conservations Architect) and her extensive expertise in this sphere, to Connor Morarity (Project Manager) for all his guidance and for ensuring the work was completed and to Pat Tallis (Specialist Conservation Builder), for his detailed work with enormous degree of sensitivity.

The Dean also spoke of the link with St Patrick’s College, Maynooth and thanked to Fr Liam professor of liturgics for attending and for preaching.  The Dean also acknowledged with appreciation the great music provided by the choir and led by Mr Mark Duley.

The Dean went on to acknowledge the small community that is the parishioners and the Development Committee and their unstinting commitment to create and sustain what is now here in Leighlin.

This particular project would not have been possible without the various funding that they were able to tap into, while appreciating all who supported, the substantial part came from the Carlow Leader Programme and Claire O’Shea and how instrumental she was in opening the necessary doors for it all to happen.

The Dean offered his best wishes to the Ven. Andrew Orr in his new role as Archdeacon.

The Bishop concludes

Finally the Bishop recalled his very first visit many years ago as a small child to Leighlin for the Choral Festival when his uncle Andy Willis was rector in Urglin and during Dean Bolton’s time.

The Bishop said that even for him then there is something about the holiness, the atmosphere and the mystery and the possibility that captured him that day.  He never thought he would back, let alone sitting in the ‘big chair’ listening to what is said about those who are meant to sit in it, but it has been marvelous to see over the years and especially in recent years with the work of everyone, how such a vision has been realised.  And also how much this is all due to the skill, the wisdom and the vision of the Dean.

St Laserian’s is a place of pause and gave thanks for the fruits by which ministry is known and to remember ‘God has set our feet in a very large room’ as the Psalmist said.

Leighlin cathedral is truly a large room, a liturgical laboratory, a place of imagination and creativity and ad multos annos.

Refreshments were served in the refurbished Lady Chapel.