ST JOSEPH'S CATHOLIC CHURCH, POYNTZPASS

The lease for the land on which the church was to be built was signed in 1762. The rent was to be one shilling and one penny, payable in two equal instalments per year. Saint Joseph's is now the second oldest church in the Archdiocese still using its original building.

Details concerning the edifice were recorded in the Ordnance Survey Memoirs of 1837, "The Roman Catholic Chapel of Poyntzpass, situated a little to the outside of the town, is a plain rectangular building of stone in good repair, built in 1790; length 62 feet, breadth 30 feet, accommodates one thousand people". The capacity of the building may seem unnaturally large given the measurements of the building but we must remember these figures were recorded at a time when the congregation stood for mass.

Tradition has it that a bottle of whisky was built into a wall of the church. It would seem the builders enjoyed this refreshment but were taken unaware by the arrival of the priest. Not wishing to be caught consuming alcohol while working they continued to work and since the priest did not leave they had no option but to build the bottle into the wall!

The oldest artefact belonging to the church is a small Ciborium bearing the duty stamps of 1807. Another treasured possession is the solid oak harmonium bought by the church in 1887 for a cost of 12. The Holy Water Font was erected in 1917 in memory of Barney Conlon the local blacksmith. In 1994 the families of Magill and Rafferty purchased a new altar cloth for the church, bought and blessed in Lourdes.

The church has undergone numerous alterations over the years. Electricity was finally installed in 1936, replacing lighting by oil lamps and candles. In the mid 1970's oil fired heating replaced the costly electric heating. The biggest alterations took place in the 1980's when the church was re-plastered, the stained glass windows repaired, a new porch built and the sacristy refurbished.

The parochial house in Poyntzpass was destroyed by fire in the 1970s. A new one was built beside the school in 1973 at a cost of 7,500.

1994 saw the celebration of the church's bi-centenary. At a service on the 27th November 1994 there took place a procession of former parish priests, each priest lighting a candle from his predecessor, symbolising the continuity of work within the parish.

Photo of the church.