Influential church celebrates 65 years since it’s first service

By Maurice Garvey

OUR Lady of the Assumption Church is celebrating a special Mass today (Thursday, March 15, 7.30pm) – the 65th anniversary of the church’s very first service (March 15, 1953).

Many of the congregation attending the first mass in 1953 had to stand – despite the installation of 1,980 mahogany seats costing £10,000 - a reflection of the excitement surrounding the opening of the new church.

assumption church bally

Our Lady of the Assumption in Ballyfermot

The iconic structure was a vital build at the time, required as a focal point to develop the young town of Ballyfermot, which was only five years old at the time.

Work started on the building in May 1951.

It was designed by Robinson, Keefe and Devine, and cost £68,000 to build.

In a jubilee book published in 2003 ‘The Assumption Parish – Celebrating 50 years of community in Ballyfermot’, the then parish priest Fr Joe Kett, spoke of how “influential” the church was in forming the community.

“The interesting thing to realise is how influential the church was in the whole story – the school going population was enormous.”

“The De La Salle Brothers and Dominican Sisters educated the children, while the Little Sisters of the Assumption looked after the needs of the young families,” said Fr Joe.

1952 saw the opening of De La Salle school with 380 students.

Started from scratch

One of the first Ballyfermot priests Fr Donal O’Scannaill, wrote about how he “started from scratch” after his appointment to the parish in December 1949.

“There were only 270 houses occupied” at the time, according to Fr Donal, “all the rest was a building site and green fields.”

“School buses were our first concern. One day in 1950, I bought a builders paint store off O’Hogan Road for £200 and we were in business.

“We washed the walls, put in a little altar and so begun our hut chapel. It was out first milestone and we couldn’t be stopped from then on.”

First stewards and collectors

First stewards and collectors in Our Lady of the Assumption Church in 1953

Shortly after this, the Little Sisters came to Seven Oaks, the De La Salle Monastery and schools began, followed by the Dominican Convent and schools.

Fr Donal said they were allocated Rafter’s house and farmyard site for the location of the new Assumption Church in early 1951.

A financial dispute arose between the church and the corporation (who were looking for £1,700), but Fr Donal managed to get the site for nothing, citing money required for demolition costs.

He moved into the old ‘rat infested’ house and began cleaning it up – the only method of cooking was an electric ring on the kitchen floor.

During the build of the new church, Fr Donal said the parish was “growing rapidly” with “houses numbering 2,500 on the left hand side of Ballyfermot Road, up to Le Fanu Road”, and “no sign of other priests arriving.”

Fr Donal was “delighted” when Fr Canon Troy and Fr Paul Boland were appointed to Ballyfermot in July 1951.

“I went on holidays immediately,” said Fr Donal.

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