St Catherine’s Church Newry

I am wont sometimes to let my attention stray from divine worship as I contemplate the beauty of the architecture in my local church St Catherine’s (The Dominican).

The following is what Bassett’s Directory said about it shortly after the edifice was first raised.

‘Of the Dominican Church in Queen Street, justice requires it to be said that a more beautiful and symmetrical edifice is not to be found in Ireland.

From its ornate and lofty tower to the least finished detail, it is a harmonious work.

Three arched doorways opening from a broad platform, reached from the street by a flight of steps, are of Portland stone, the central one being particularly deep and richly ornamented.

The nave is supported upon splendid pillars of polished granite which rest upon white marble bases. The capitals, in Portland stone, are different in design and support six arches at each side over which are twelve clerestory windows.

A pulpit worthy of the house had been erected by Patrick McDonnell (1884) in memory of his wife. This beautiful work of art is of white veined marble set with carved panels of Carara marble, the largest face depicting the transfiguration. The pulpit rests on green marble pillars.

A handsome organ loft of carved Portland stone over the entrance contains a fine instrument.

St Catherines Newry

The Church floor is tiled and that of the chancel is richly carpeted in green overlaid with crimson cloth. (Today all is tiled except beneath the worshippers’ feet in the pews, which floor is of recently-laid polished oak).

St Joseph‘s Altar is of pure white and coloured marbles, set with a creamy bas-reliefs in Caen stone, representing the saint in his fatherly relation, the Holy Family and the death of Joseph. The Altar of the Virgin is a work of great elegance abounding in marble carvings of flowers and delicate filigree.

The High Altar is at present (c. 1888) a temporary one.’

Today the High Altar is a worthy centrepiece – open, as befits the Post-Vatican Council philosophy. There is much other here to commend. The description continues in this vein. I must say I agree in regard to the Church’s beauty.

But it is not for this alone that I attend here each Sunday.

The Dominican Choir – numbering variously between six and twelve singers – is just fantastic and enhance the Sabbath’s liturgy no end.


I consider I’ve got a double up when the day’s preacher is the Prior Father Gerard Fearon.

Gerard is a liberal, informed, intelligent and respectful preacher and I listen and learn from every sermon. He can be hard-hitting too and doesn’t shirk from taking a rather independent line. All quite challenging and stimulating at midday on Sundays!

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