Inmates at Wheatfield Prison restore old church furniture

By Maurice Garvey

INMATES at Wheatfield detention centre polished up on their good behavior by restoring church furniture for a Cherry Orchard parish.

The completed restoration work takes pride of place on the altar at the Church of the Most Holy Sacrament.

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The restored furniture on the altar 

Fr Michael Murtagh, parish priest in Cherry Orchard says it was a match made in heaven.

“They are our nearest neighbours, and parishioners were really impressed and appreciative of the work,” said Fr Murtagh.

“I heard about it (inmate community projects) in The Echo. Good news travels fast, so I gave them a call and they were happy to help.”

The furniture was delivered to Cloverhill Road before Christmas for two weeks, but inmates had the project finished in time for services over the festive period.

Fr Murtagh continued: “The furniture is at least 40 years old and had become very faded and ground down with wear and tear. A lot of it had gone white and the bases were very bad.

“I’m not sure what exactly they did or who did it, but it was nicely sanded down, varnished with a few cans and polished. It is in far better condition now.”

The Irish Prison Service have a range of workshops within their institutions including woodwork, metalwork, construction, craft and horticulture.

Inmates have previously worked on local projects to build buddy benches, hanging baskets for tidy town groups and fences for community gardens.

“We hope to continue our working relationship with them,” said Fr Murtagh.

“When the young lad was helping me load the furniture into the van before Christmas, he thought I was going into the prison to say Mass. That’s not the case. I said Mass before in Wheatfield about 15 years ago during a visitation, but they have their own chaplain services.

“I never got a chance to thank them for their work, but it is important to say thanks.”

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