Until 1973, the Dominicans were a religious community in Limerick City. In 1973, they were asked by the then Bishop, Henry Murphy to form a new parish, which would be located between the Roxborough Road and Glenworth Street. The first parish priest of the new parish was Fr Clement Lavery OP. The present day population of the parish of St Saviour's is around 2,500.
In Medieval Limerick, there were five parishes in Limerick City; St John's, St Mary's, St Michael's, St Munchin's and St Patrick's.
In recent times, the boundaries of these parishes have been altered to form the following parishes:
St Mary's was divided into St Mary's and St Nicholas' (1991).
St Michael's was divided into St Michael's, Our Lady of Lourdes (1963), St Joseph's (1973) and St Saviour's (1973).
St Munchin's was divided into St Munchin's, Our Lady of the Rosary (1964), Christ the King (1970) and Corpus Christi (1976).
St Patrick's was divided into St Patrick's, Monaleen (1971), and Our Lady Help of Christians (1981).
St John's parish has not been altered.
St Paul's was formerly part of the parish of Mungret/Crecora and was created in 1971.
Our Lady Queen of Peace (1961) and Holy Family (1970) were formerly part of the parish of Donaghmore/Knockea.
St Saviour's church is also the parish church of St Saviour's parish. This parish was created by Bishop Henry Murphy in 1973 and was formerly part of the parish of St Michael's.
The present day church in Glentworth Street was built in 1815/6 when the Dominicans moved from Fish Lane under the leadership of Fr Joseph Harrigan. Edward Henry, the Earl of Limerick donated the land to the Dominicans. The original church here was a plain church and it gave the impression of Gothic architecture. The church was designed by the Pain (sometimes spelt as Payne) brothers to replace the penal chapel in Fish Lane.
The foundation stone of the church was laid on 27 March 1815 in the presence of Dr Tuohy, Bishop of Limerick and the Father Provincial of the Dominicans, Patrick Gibbons. The architect John Wallace renovated the present church in 1861/4. A clerestory was added raising the height of the church by 20 feet. The church is dedicated to the Most Holy Saviour Transfigured. The priory next door to the church in Glentworth St was rebuilt in 1943.
Inside the church on the left aisle, there is a chapel to the Sacred Heart (also called the Carbery chapel), beside which is a statue of St Anne. There is also a statue of the Child of Prague in the left aisle. The chapel to the Sacred Heart was erected in 1898 to the memory of Fr Carbery. At the top of the left aisle of the church there is a side altar to St Joseph.
There is a small cross on the side of the eighth seat from the front in the left aisle. This cross marks the site of the tomb of Fr Simon Joseph Harrigan OP, who was the main instigator of the building of this church in 1816. Fr Harrigan died on January 23rd 1838.
Opposite the Sacred Heart chapel, there is a chapel to St Martin de Porres. The Stations of the Cross are frescoes. An oak frame surrounds each fresco.
The stained glass windows are all of a similar nature in the left aisle. However the stained glass windows in the right aisle show different religious figures. They are (from the back) two Dominicans saints, St Thomas Aquinas on the left and St Albert on the right. This window is dedicated to the memory of Michael and Margaret Ryan. The next stained glass window depicts St Mary Magdalene in the left panel and St Luke the evangelist in the right panel. The next stained glass window is again divided into two panels, which depict St Catherine of Sienna on the left and St Dominic on the right. The next window shows St William and St Margaret. The stained glass window at the top of the right aisle depicts the Virgin Mary and St Joseph.
Paintings on both sides of the centre aisle show various Dominicans saints. They are (from the back left) St Vincent, St Catherine of Ricci, St Pius V, St Albert the Great and St Catherine of Siena and (from the back right) St Rose of Lima, St Peter the Martyr, St Margaret of Hungary, St Thomas Aquinas and St Dominic. They were all painted by Fr Aengus Buckley, a member of the Dominican order
Fr Buckley also painted the fresco "The Triumph of the Cross" over the chancel arch in 1951. This fresco shows Heavenly Father receiving the sacrifice of his Son into the glory of the Trinity. Some members of the church are looking on in contemplation. A detailed description of the fresco is given at the main door of the church. The stained glass window in the apse shows the Transfiguration. Over the marble altar, there is a life-size statue of St Martin in bronze. There are also statues of SS. Peter and Paul. There is a stained glass window by Messrs Murphy and Devitt.
To the right of the high altar, there is an altar to Our Lady of Limerick. The statue of Our Lady is from the 17th century and is called Our Lady of Limerick. Patrick Sarsfield brought the statue from Flanders in 1640. (This is not the Patrick Sarsfield who was a general in the Jacobite army during the Siege of Limerick in 1691.) Sarsfield donated the statue due to the outrages done by his father to Sir John Bourke. The statue is made from oak. For a number of years, the statue was buried in a box in the graveyard in the grounds of St Mary's Cathedral to avoid capture from the English authorities. The base of the altar shows the Arms of Limerick are incorporated into the crest of the Dominicans.
The Bishop of Emly, Terence Albert O'Brien, a Dominican, was hanged in the abbey ruins in 1651 for leading the resistance to General Ireton's siege. In 1982, an oratory to Bishop O'Brien containing a portrait of the bishop painted by Thomas Ryan was added to the church. This oratory is to the far right of the High Altar.
There is also a stained glass window in the oratory that depicts a number of different scenes. These scenes begin with the execution of Bishop O'Brien and continue to depict a number of the major events that happened in the Limerick region since O'Brien's execution in 1651. The stained glass window includes the following images, the coat of arms of Limerick in the Dominicans' crest, the persecution of Roman Catholics by the ruling English, the boat of emigration, agriculture, Ardnacrusha power station, Ireland's entry into the EEC and the Papal Visit of 1979.
As you enter the oratory, there is a statue on the right of St John Macias OP, who is the patron saint for exiles. The Baptismal font is also in the oratory and it is dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary of Limerick & the Help of Christians.
The Dominicans own a number of very old and interesting chalices. The oldest chalice in their possession is the O'Callaghan chalice, which dates from 1639. It was originally kept in the Dominican priory in Kilmallock, Co Limerick. The second chalice, the Sarsfield chalice was buried with the statue of Our Lady of Limerick in the graveyard of St Mary's Cathedral. It dates from 1640.
The next chalice of historic note is the O'Meara chalice, which dates from approximately 1744. The final chalice dates from 1810 and is called the Harrigan chalice. This chalice was donated by Honoria M. Raymond to James Harrigan for her son John Bernard and her spiritual comfort.
They are also in possession of a two sided cross known as Bishop O'Brien's cross.
Buried within the church are:
Fr S. J. Harrigan
Died January 23 1838
Fr V. O'Carroll
Died January 8 1860
There is a burial vault to the right of the church. Buried within the vault are:
Fr W. McDonnell
Died April 19 1868
Fr L. D. Conway
Died December 28 1878
Bishop J. J. Carbery
Bishop of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Died December 19 1887
Br H. Carroll
Died May 6 1906
Fr M. A. Duhig
Died December 24 1920
Fr J. J. McGovern
Died January 26 1923
Fr S. A. O'Kelly
Died August 15 1930
Fr A. O'Coigley
Died September 7 1943
Fr D. D. O'Connell
Died March 6 1947
Fr B. W. Costello
Died June 2 1949
Fr J. M. Noonan
Died September 13 1949
|1991||Hugh Costello||Walter Hegarty|
|1992||Hugh Costello||Walter Hegarty|
|1993||Maurice Fearon||Walter Hegarty|
|1994||Maurice Fearon||Walter Hegarty|
|1995||Maurice Fearon||Walter Hegarty|
|1996||Donal Mac Suibhne||Walter Hegarty|
|1997||Donal Mac Suibhne||Walter Hegarty|
|1998||Donal Mac Suibhne||Declan Gowen|
|1999||Dermot Brennan||Declan Gowen|
|2000||Dermot Brennan||Declan Gowen|
|2001||Dermot Brennan||Donal Mehigan|
|2004||Dermot Brennan||Br. James Ryan (Asst.)|
|2006||Dermot Brennan||Joe Bulman|
|2007||James Donleavy||Joe Bulman|
The list of Priests from 1704 to 1836 is compiled from information gained in Begley's History of the Diocese of Limerick Vol. III page 598. The remaining years are compiled from the Catholic Directories. Information contained in a directory of any given year refers to what happened the previous year. For example if a priest is recorded in the 1954 directory as being in a particular parish, this would mean that he was actually there in 1953.
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