New organ is replica of original instrument
PIPE organ music can be heard once again at St Mary’s Church in Kilmuckridge since the reconstruction of an old Telford & Telford organ dating back to 1926.
Last week the parish committee organised a celebratory concert. They nvited special guest Dr Richard Dunster-Sigtermans from England who demonstrated the capability and versatility of the new organ installed by Wexford based company Neiland & Creane from Newtown, Killinick. The programme of music included pieces from Elgar, Bach, Hayden just to name a few. Local flute player Gavin Blake joined Richard for some duet performances, followed by some sweet music from the Blackwater choir.
In a welcoming speech, Patrick Chawke, chairman of the Parish Finance Committee of Kilmuckridge Church, said that the inaugural concert was a particularly proud occasion for the parish adding that commissioning the new organ had received widespread and generous support from the local community and seasonal visitors.
Gary Creane of Neiland & Creane expressed his gratitude to the Parish Finance Committee for entrusting the project to his company, noting that it gave him particular satisfaction to undertake the commission in his native parish. Gary also spoke of the challenges of replicating the original 1926 Telford & Telford organ.
Fr Frank Murphy, parish priest, said the tonal and build quality was highlighted and admired by organist Dr Richard who complemented Neiland & Creane for producing an instrument of remarkable quality.
The story of the pipe organ in St Mary’s Church dates back to the year 1926. Nicholas Power of Kilmuckridge made a bequest to the parish for the commissioning of a church organ. It was fortuitous that this occurred during the pastorate of Fr John Brown, a man who had a considerable impact on the parish of Kilmuckridge.
During his pastorate, Fr Browne enlarged the church, building the nave of the present church; he enlarged the ‘ high altar’ and installed two stained glass windows; he installed new altar-rails and commissioned Telford & Telford of Dublin to build an organ for the church.
This organ was designed for the bell-tower gallery which was quite a restricted space.
The organ was formally launched by the noted Wexford musicologist Dr William Grattan Flood in 1927. William was a organist and a musical director at Saint Aidan’s Cathedral, Enniscorthy and the author of The History of the Diocese of Ferns.
The organ was serviced in 1945. In 1957 the bell tower gallery was removed and the organ was transferred to the current gallery where it remained until about 1975 when the organ, altar rails and stained glass were removed.
Although the organ was severely mutilated during its removal, the remnants were taken into storage, where they lay for 40 plus years. Although the worst for wear, the parts were sufficient to provide a clear picture of the design and specification of the original organ.
In April 2017, the Parish Finance Committee decided to undertake with a restoration/reconstruction project of the organ, awarding the contract to organ builders Neiland & Creane of Wexford.
Initially it was thought that some original parts, especially the soundboard, were sufficiently intact to be usable in a refurbishment. However, this was not the case.
Parts that were unfit for re-use provided a pattern and model for new parts to be constructed.
The organ as it stands today is, in most respects, an exact copy of what was built by Telford & Telford.
To avoid height restriction, the Parish Finance Committee originally decided to situate the organ on a platform in the transept at the ‘mortuary entrance’.
This was eventually reconsidered in favour of locating the organ on the gallery. However, the lower roof height necessitated a re-design which was done very sympathetically and aesthetically
Today’s organ is inspired in its specification and tonal quality by the original Telford & Telford organ, and has been built to the same quality standards and attention to detail that is exemplified in the work of Neiland & Creane.
The quality of build and workmanship is unsurpassed and everyone attending last week’s concert was delighted to hear the organ ring out again in the church.
RJ and Ann Blake with their son Jonathan.
Organ builders Gary Crean, MD of Neiland and Creane organ builders, Killincooley, Danny Creane, Daniel Spencer and Daniel Neiland, MD of Neiland and Creane organ builders.
St. Brigid’s Church Choir, Blackwater.
Organist Dr. Richard Dunster-Stigtermans and Fr. Frank Murphy.
Winnie Hall and Billy Donnelly.
Paddy Chawke and Peter Prendergast.