By Eimear Cotter A SPECIAL Mass to celebrate the milestone of 25 years of St Cronans Parish in Brackenstown has been written by the churchs musical maestro, Aileen Smyth.
This full-length Mass, including specially chosen scripture, songs and lyrics will be aired for the first time at the Church’s 25th anniversary Mass, which takes place on December 13, concelebrated by Bishop Raymond Fields.
From humble beginnings the parish of Brackenstown has grown and developed into a vibrant church and religious community.
The new parish of Brackenstown was constituted from the original parish of St Colmcille in Swords back in 1974 when the first wave of development hit the Fingal capital.
At the time Brackenstown, which lies to the west of Swords and adjoins the parish of Rolestown at its most westerly point, numbered a mere 825 families. Few could have imagined how Brackenstown, or even Swords, would grow.
By 1977 those 825 families had grown to 1,100 with a further 280 houses about to be constructed. In 2002 there are about 5,000 houses.
Although the parish was set up in 1974 it was another three years before a church was constructed. The two primary schools, St Cronan’s junior and senior national schools were built first on a site beside the proposed church. For a while Masses were even held in the school.
Finally the burgeoning parish of Brackenstown received some money to build a church from SHARE, the central diocesan fund set up by the Catholic Church for the development of new parishes.
The church was constructed during 1977 and by December it was ready for Mass. The first Mass was held on December 11, 1977, and was said by Fr JF McHale, the first parish priest of St Cronan’s, Brackenstown.
The most striking feature of the church building – a contemporary fan-shaped design – is how it naturally fits into (without dominating) the open campus that is home to the schools and Presbyteries situated in the heart of this fast-growing area.
The name St Cronan was chosen because Brackenstown has ancient links with the Irish saint. Patrick Archer, in his publication ‘Fair Fingall’‚ records the following: ‘Glassmore Abbey was founded by St Cronan about AD660 – a century later than the founding of Swords. This interesting ruin and its adjacent well are dedicated to St Cronan and may be reached from Swords by following the road which leads westwards from the castellated ruin on the main street.
‘The remains of this ancient Abbey are situated in the southern end of a large field, on the south side of the road from which they are several hundred yards distant.’
Under the rule of St Cronan, Glasmore Abbey flourished sufficiently to attract the attention of the Northmen of Inbher Domhnainn (Malahide) who raided and destroyed it and slew both the abbot and his entire fraternity in one night. Since then the abbey has been a ruin.
The booklet produced to celebrate the opening of the new St Cronan’s Church back in 1997 delighted in renewing links with the ancient past.
‘Today this association is renewed with the dedication of our new church to St Cronan. The opening of the new parish church, where the people of Brackenstown will meet and worship God, should be seen as another means of strengthening the healthy community spirit that exists in our parish.’
In the first year there were some 11 weddings and 184 baptisms held in St Cronan’s church. To commemorate this the Jubilee committee are hoping to hold an exhibition of photographs, old and new, of those who celebrated the sacraments of marriage and baptism in the church’s first year.
Also to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of St Cronan’s parish, the church building is in the process of getting a facelift. All should be ready for the visit of Mary McAleese on December 10.
Parish secretary Joanne Keelaghan explained: ‘To celebrate the jubilee we are putting in a proper ceiling, extending the Sanctuary, redecorating, rearranging the seating and laying down a new carpet.’
St Cronan’s 25th anniversary runs for an entire year, from December 11, 2002, until the same day in 2003. A whole host of events have been organised by the hard-working Church Committees to celebrate this milestone.
‘This is a very busy and exciting time in the life of St Cronan’s parish. We are all very much looking forward to the visit of President McAleese, the Jubilee Mass and all the other events organised throughout the year.’