WEXFORD UNION

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

The union of Wexford, in the diocese of Ferns, and in the patronage of the Bishop, consists of the rectories of St. Patrick's, Maudlintown, Killilogue or Kerlogue, Drinagh, Rathaspick, Kildavin, and Ardcandrisk; the rectory and vicarage of St. Mary's, and the impropriate cures of St. Iberius (Wexford), St. Bridget's or Bride's, St. Selsker's or Sanctum Sepulcrum, St. Tullogue's or St. Euleck's, St. Peter's, St. Michael's of Feagh, and Carrigg: of these, the parishes of St. Patrick, St. Mary, St. Iberius, St. Bridget, St. Selsker and St. Tullogue are within the walls, and being entirely built upon, pay no tithes or dues of any kind; the rest, which are without the walls, are described under their respective heads. The glebe of St. Patrick's, now the site of the parochial school, contains 20 perches; that of St. Mary's, now a dwelling-house and offices, 2 roods; of St. Selsker's, now a garden, 20 perches; and of St. Tullogue's, now the site of five small houses, 1 rood; making a total of 1 acre of glebe land within the walls.

By a return to a regal visitation made in 1615, it appears that there were then 20 churches in the town; at present there are but two, those of St. Iberius and St. Selsker. The former, erected in the latter part of the last century, is now the principal, though not the mother church of the union, that of Rathaspick being so considered, and the new incumbent being therefore inducted first into it and afterwards into each of the other churches. It is a plain structure with stone quoins and surmounted with a cupola; the interior has a gallery round three sides, and the fourth, containing the altar, forms a semicircular recess separated from the body of the building by an open screen of two pilasters and two columns: the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have granted £252 for its repair.

The church of St. Selsker is a small edifice, erected in 1818 at an expense of £1400, in the early style of English architecture, with pannelled buttresses at the angles, terminating in pinnacles, and plain buttresses between the lancet-shaped windows on each side and a combination of three similarly shaped windows at the east end; the body of the church is connected by a small vestibule with the massive ancient tower of the old church: the interior is fitted up with open seats instead of pews: there are several monuments of great antiquity in the church-yard. In St. John's churchyard is a handsome mausoleum erected by J. H. Talbot, of Talbot Hall, Esq., to the memory of his wife.

In the R. C. divisions the union or district of Wexford extends over the whole of the town and suburbs, and includes 11 of the 16 parishes constituting the Protestant union: of the remaining five, Drinagh, Rathaspick, and Kildavin are included in the union or district of Piercestown; Carrigg and Ardcandrisk in that of Glynn. The chapel of the Franciscans has been long used as the principal chapel of the Wexford union. The conventual Franciscans settled here in the reign of Henry III.: about the year 1380 they obtained possession of the convent and church of St. Bridget and St. John, which had previously belonged to the Knights Hospitallers: at the dissolution the buildings and lands were granted in perpetuity to two laymen.

The community at present consists of a guardian elected triennially at a general meeting of the Franciscan order in Dublin, and six friars. The building is a plain edifice, with the exception of a modern addition erected for a library, which contains a valuable collection of theological works, chiefly of the early Christian fathers, and also books in other departments of literature. The building, which is surmounted by a turret with a cupola and cross, and furnished with a clock, was erected under the superintendence of the Rev. R. Walsh, late guardian of the convent, who, with the aid of a subscription for the purpose, also collected the library, chiefly from the continent.

The chapel, dedicated to St. John and St. Bridget, and supposed to occupy the site of that of the ancient monastery of the Franciscans, is a large unornamented pile: the burial-ground attached to it has been lately enlarged, and a commodious house for the clergyman has been built adjoining the chapel, at an expense of about £1000. The nunnery was established in 1818 for nuns of the order of the Presentation: their house, adjoining the Franciscan convent and erected principally at the expense of the late Mr. Carrol, of the Faithe, contains a small chapel elegantly fitted up at the expense of the Countess of Shrewsbury, who presented £200 for that purpose: it is open on Sundays as a public place of worship: beneath the chapel is a commodious schoolroom, in which the girls originally attached to the Lancasterian school, and those belonging to the Redmond female orphan-house, are gratuitously educated by the ladies of the order, and also instructed in useful and ornamental needle-work.

The Wesleyan Methodists have two places of worship: a congregation in connection with the Irish Evangelical Society, and another, called the separatists, meet in private houses.

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