FIFTY years on from its construction and one north Kerry church is still serving its function every bit as well as when it was brand new - even protecting the faithful from a major storm that coincided with its Golden Jubilee celebrations on Friday night.
Designed by leading Irish architect Michael Scott and built in 1964, Corpus Christi Church in Knockanure was the focus of a warm community celebration on Friday evening to mark the first 50 years of its existence; an event that began with a special Mass celebrated by Bishop Ray Browne, Parish Priest Fr John Lucid and four other clerics.
Parishioners packed out the Church, with the Parish Choir providing the perfect atmosphere and the talented First Holy Communicants of Knockanure National School impressing Bishop Browne no end with a special rendition of the hymn 'I'm Sorry God' performed on the altar.
"It was a wonderful celebration, apart from a desperate storm which came over us around 7.20pm and rattled all the windows and roof," Chairperson of the Pastoral Council Margaret Carmody said. "People actually had to be assisted out of the building with the rain and wind after Mass as it was so strong!"
It wasn't enough to deter the Kerry Bishop from fulfilling another duty on the night. "We had two yew trees to plant to mark the milestone and, in fairness to Bishop Browne, he dashed out at the height of the rain with a cap on to plant one of the trees," Margaret added.
Parishioners were out in strength to mark their gratitude for the sacred building but one member of the congregation was perhaps more gracious than anyone else.
"Listowel resident Donal O'Sullivan is, as far as I can make out, the last surviving builder from the project and it was while working on the Church he met his wife, Knockanure girl Kathleen Leahy. He said he came to the celebration because he owes an awful lot to the Church," Margaret continued.
Afterwards, it was down to the local community centre where volunteers laid out an amazing spread.
"We have a fantastic community spirit here and so many people helped out during the week in preparations and on the night," Margaret added.