Hope for St. Brigid’s Famine Irish Church?

March 30, 2008

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(This article courtesy of Sheila Houlihan Fee and Edwin Torres, board members of the Committee to Save St. Brigid.)

The Committee to Save St. Brigid is happy to announce a major legal breakthrough. The New York State Court of Appeals in Albany has agreed to review the profoundly important legal issues raised by the Archdiocese of New York’s decision to demolish St. Brigid’s Church. The Court of Appeals is New York State’s highest court and generally, it takes on very few cases. It is enormously significant that they thought that the legal issues in this case have sufficient merit to warrant a review.

This beautiful old church was designed by Patrick Keely, an architect from Tipperary who built 600 churches in the USA. He employed local craftsmen from the nearby East River shipyards. One of the distinctive features of the church is its vaulted ceiling, crafted to resemble an upside down sailing vessel; unusual for a consecrated building, the shipwrights sculpted many of their own likenesses into the corbels. The impressive stained glass windows are steeped in history, too, for they were donated by parishioners in memory of relatives who had perished in the famine. The building was financed by public subscription, mostly on the nickels and dimes of those lucky enough to escape the Great Hunger. Construction was completed in an astonishing fifteen months and, in1848, St Brigid’s was dedicated by Archbishop “Dagger John” Hughes. So great was the crowd at the opening that some of the surrounding walls collapsed from the weight of onlookers; miraculously, no one was injured.

Will this lovely old church building be destroyed by the wrecking ball? Lawyers for the Committee to Save St. Brigid and the Archdiocese are in the process of presenting their arguments to the Court of Appeals in Albany. St. Brigid supporters hope this latest development leads to direct negotiations between the Committee and the Archdiocese.

For the latest news updates on this case, go to www.savestbrigid.com . You can demonstrate your solidarity with the St. Brigid’s community by expressing your written opinions to the Archdiocese of New York.

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