Thursday, 23 May 2013

Church of the Holy Trinity Without, Ballybricken, Waterford City

The Catholic Church of the Holy Trinity Without stands to the north of the heart of Waterford's historic Viking/Norman centre, off Ballybricken Green. The present church was erected in the early nineteenth century, c. 1810,  and in many respects is typical of churches erected before Catholic Emancipation in 1830. Following a cruciform plan, the church could be described as a 'barn chapel'. These were functional chapels with few architectural pretensions, sometimes hastily erected, and often replaced later in the nineteenth or twentieth centuries when sufficient funds allowed for the building of more fitting churches. At Ballybricken, however, the church was enhanced rather than replaced, and while unpretentious in style, the church exhibits a noble simplicity. The west tower was added at a later date than the church building itself. The pinnicales that crown the tower have since been removed, but save for that, this view has hardly changed. 

Somewhat unusually Waterford possesses three churches dedicated to the Holy Trinity: the Catholic cathedral of the the Most Holy Trinity Within, Ballybricken church, and the most ancient, the Church of Ireland Christ Church Cathedral. The church at Ballybricken received the dedication of the Holy Trinity 'Without' as it was situated to the west of the ancient centre, beyond the city walls. The name in Irish is Baile Bhric-Ghein, meaning the townland of the tribe of Uí Bhric, a native Irish family. Throughtout the century the area served as the great meeting point between town and country. The green was for centuries a fair until the 1950s, when it was transformed into the city cattle mart. The mart itself ceased trading in 1977. The final image below shows Ballybricken Fair in the early 1900s.

As I have suggested before, many of the Catholic churches erected in this period were done with limited funds, often relatively small in size, built with a most efficient use of space in mind. While Ballybricken could hardly be described as small, it nonetheless conformed to the principle of economy of space, employing galleries in the nave and transepts. Galleries had the added purpose of allowing for the enforcement of strict social boundaries, with the 'better sorts' often having seats reserved above, while the poor stood below during Mass. The scene above is now rather different thanks to a re-ordering that took place in the 1980s; the high altar and reredos were removed, as were the galleries in the nave. 

1 comment:

  1. Great article. Made my confirmation and communion in that church.