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Gortnahoe Village Church

The Church of the Sacred Heart stands on a most prominent site on the western side of the main village crossroads of Gortnahoe and was built about 1820 under the direction of Fr. Michael Meighan (parish priest 1805-1847) at a cost of £1,000.  There were further very extensive refurbishment and alteration works carried out in 1923 directed by Fr. John Walsh (parish priest 1921-1941) costing £7,000.  The final phase of interventions was post Vatican II reordering and the insertion of modern services.  These works were completed in 1975 while Fr. John Lambe was parish priest and cost £25,000.

Originally the church consisted of a simple cruciform plan with pointed lancet windows typical of the Emancipation era.  In 1923 the refurbishment work brought a pronounced classical effect to elevations with the addition of cornicing work and detailing in concrete to the window surrounds.  As part of this phase the main church window heads were modified from pointed to round headed types and more significantly four Harry Clarke rose windows were installed.  Each rose window comprises twelve panels, six large and six very small panels, decorated with flowers and leaves surrounding a single central panel depicting the Sacred Heart to whom the church is dedicated. 

The principal axis of the cruciform plan is south west north east and the church is constructed in rubble stone with a painted cement render finish and a slate roof with flat raised gables.  There are a series of later additions probably 20th century in origin including storm porches located at the south, east and west gables.  A bell gable in concrete, almost certainly dates from Fr. Walsh’s refurbishment phase in 1923.  The flat roofed sacristy located to the north was extended and upgraded in 1975.  There are three distinct window types in the church, four circular rose windows with stained glass designs by Harry Clarke set in concrete framing tracery, ten round headed lancet type windows to the main body of the church and six similar but smaller windows to the three storm porches.   Finally there are two windows flanking the altar at high level and six windows dating from the 1975 refurbishment. The main external doors are in wood with elaborate decorative metal strap work, internally there are half glazed softwood doors leasing from the storm porches into church with modern replacement doors internally and externally to the sacristy.  The floor is a suspended timber type with a central tiled processional route to the altar now carpeted, a tiled concrete floor to the porches and carpet and vinyl tiles to the sacristy.  A surviving timber gallery is located at the south-western end of the nave, originally the church had tow others located in the east and west transepts, these were removed in 1975.

Concrete paths circle the churchyard that is enclosed on two sides by attractive metal railings surmounted on a painted and rendered wall set between piers to the north and east sides of the site.  There are stone and concrete boundary walls to the west and south.