Church of St John the Baptist, Newcestown

Letter to the editor: Cork Examiner, September 20th 1871

Re: The Church of St. John the Baptist and Presbytery at Newcestown in the Parish of Murragh

“And, first, with regard to the Presbytery.  On my arrival here I found the curate occupying, by kind sufferance, in a farmer’s house, a room 14 feet square, which had to serve as parlour, study, bedroom, etc.  I was at a loss to conceive how he could endure to spend a whole wet winter’s day in such limited quarters – how, after being tired of reading or writing, when he could not venture outside doors, he could contrive, amidst the miscellaneous furniture of this multifarious apartment, to stretch his cramped limbs –yawned he certainly must have often, to relieve his lungs by the mere physical effort, but as certainly not by the inhalation of pure air. “

He went on to describe the church.

“This building, better adapted for a barn than for sacred purposes, would have long since been swept away by the winds of Heaven, were it not that for the last half century it has been encircled with a zone of friendly trees, which give it to an approaching stranger the appearance of a snugly ensconced homestead, the lack of chimney and curling smoke however, damping the longing of the weary farer expecting relief, and making its purposes unto a puzzle.  And yet, with all its surrounding safeguards of trees and high walls, and formidable bolted in gate, he would be a bold man who would undertake its insurance from destruction, so liable is it at any moment to come down by spontaneous self motion, without extraneous force to effect, what ought to be regarded, aye, and prayed for as if most desirable consummated, did it only occur on any day other than Sunday or holy day. “

Fr. Cummins had already begun fundraising for he continued

I lately addressed my people, and succeeded in inducing them to make an unprecedented effort.  For four or five years they had been making up £450 – it is now over £500 – and they are now pledged to raise, in one grand effort, £500 more, which has been swelled to £600, by the increased donations of those who spiritedly rose above the scale proposed, and by the voluntary and generous offerings of the labourers and tradesmen.  In the event of my proposal being adopted, I guarantee to realise by my own exercises abroad, the necessary reminder, relying on the charity of the people of Cork, and on the assistance of my fellow townsmen of the adjoining parish of Bandon.  If I fail, it will have been my first miscalculation.  My character, in this report is the hands of those friends to whom I look forward for support, and with this feeling.  I do them only injustice, in saying that I am confidently sanguine of a favourable issue. “

Jeremiah Cummins, P.P.

South Monastery, Douglas Street.

September 20, 1871.

Also included in this issue of the Examiner, was the first of a number of subscription lists, published by Fr. Cummins over the following 5 years. We can trace the development of the new church through the pages of the Cork Examiner