Following the regular 10am Mass on Friday 22 December 2023, the parishioners of St Mary’s Church, Castleblayney, together with others, marked the blessing and official opening of a new and much-needed car park adjacent to the church. This new facility is the result of astute planning by the parish leadership team and the generosity of the parishioners of Muckno and also that of people from adjoining parishes and areas – despite the reality that much of the fundraising had to be conducted during the Covid-19 pandemic when the church was closed.
The new car park is located on a piece of property, known for decades as Mallons. This well-known property came on the market in early 2020 and the parish was only able to purchase it quickly due to the outstanding generosity of people who donated various sums of money so that that parish could acquire it to provide parking for churchgoers, thus addressing a long running issue of parking provision in that area of the town. This need was particularly acute at Mass times and when other events were held at the church. The new car park can accommodate up to 80 cars and it is landscaped to enhance the surrounding area.
The blessing ceremony was led by Canon Adrian Walshe PP and he was assisted in the opening by members of current and past Parish Finance Committees Paul Short, Declan McAteer and Olive Bolger. The first car to drive through the gates to the car park at Beech Corner was “Rebecca”, a vintage car belonging to Blayney native, Fr Seamus Whelan SPS, who was ably assisted by parishioners Nora Woods and Mary Greenan.
Speaking this week, Canon Adi was fulsome in his praise for those who made the project happen drawing attention to Fr Stephen Duffy CC and the finance team. ‘At the time when the option to purchase came to us, our churches were closed due to Covid and we had over €1m of debt arising from the recent renovation and refurbishment of the church. Taking those factors into account alone, the response of people has been phenomenal. It is a great tribute to the generosity and the vision of ‘Blayney people and that of the people of neighbouring areas that we were able to undertake this enormous task and complete it in such a short space of time. Our design team and contractors also did a magnificent job in ensuring that this facility is now available for people to come to St Mary’s to pray and to visit the cemetery.’
Canon Adi went on to add that the new car park brings environmental and road safety benefits to the town in terms of the provision of off-street car parking during church opening hours and the visual impact it has for passers-by. ‘This new car park deals with the long-term parking problems we have had and also provides a pleasant landscape adjacent to our beautiful church, a place where there is also space for God’s creation to flourish. None of this would have been possible had it not been for our parishioners and friends’, he said.