100th anniversary of building of local church
EASTER Monday marked the 100th anniversary of the day work started on building the Catholic church in Knightstown, on a site provided by the Knight of Kerry overlooking Valentia Harbour, Renard Point and Ardcost.
For many years the inconvenience was felt of having only one church for a parish of the size and population of Valentia. The importance of the island had also increased as it became the headquarters of the Pioneer Cable Company that connected Ireland with America. The subsequent development of trans-Atlantic telegraphy brought into the island a new colony of operators and their families. Later on the island became a station for the Marconi Wireless Company which again enhanced its importance.
Valentia, with its beautiful scenery was also attracting a growing number of tourists who regularly stayed in the nearby Royal Hotel and would be facilitated greatly for worshipping purposes with a very short and scenic walk to the new church. The people of the island were also growing in prosperity with most of them becoming the owners of their holdings which gave them security of tenure to improve their lot.
The population of the island at that time was about 1,700 and the existing church situated in Chapeltown in the middle of the island was not able to reasonably accommodate this number. It was also situated more than two miles away from the more populous village of Knightstown. The question of providing an additional church near the pier had been under consideration for a considerable time. The bishop of Kerry Dr. John Mangan felt that the time was appropriate to make a start.
A meeting of the residents took place with an active committee being appointed to assist the parish priest the Rev. William Keane. A fund was opened and the people of the locality contributed handsomely to it.
The Cable Company, the catholic members of whose staff the new church greatly facilitated, also gave a substantial sum. The Knight of Kerry provided a very suitable and picturesque site, while the clergy of the diocese promised generous material support, even offering to set up collections in their various parishes. Plans were prepared by the well known church architects of that time Messrs Ashlin and Colman of Dublin.
Messrs John Sisk and sons were accepted as the building contractors.