The Church of the Assumption, Tullamore, is one of Ireland's most remarkable modern churches, having been rebuilt in the mid-1980s following a disastrous fire in 1983.
The previous church on the site, completed in 1906, was remarkable for the quality of its local stonework, which would be used again in the rebuilding after the 1983 fire. The design for the replacement was supervised by the Dublin architect Edward N. Smith (the practice now operates as Smith & Kennedy Architects).
The rebuilt church has a cruciform shape, with the sanctuary and sacristy relocated to the western end to allow easy viewing from three sides. It has attracted national attention for its use of laminated structural timbers and self-finished wood surfaces in the roof.
Themes from the Book of Durrow were used in the decoration of the sanctuary furnisshings, sculpted from a light creamy-yellow Jurassic limestone quarried near the city of Caen in north-western France.
The reredos, or background panel behind the altar, is of Travertine marble, a form of limestone deposited by mineral springs and commonly found in the USA and southern Europe. The images of the twelve apostles are carved in high relief.
A black wooden cross (formed from the charred remains of the old church timbers) and a fragment of the mosaic tiling from the old main altar are on display in the day chapel.
The church has benefited from four significant gifts:
Eight stained-glass windows by the noted Harry Clark Studios of the Dublin came from the Jesuit House of Studies in Rathfarnham Castle (south Dublin).
The Stations of the Cross (fourteen representations of the final stages in the life and passion of Jesus) came from the chapel of St Patrick's Teacher Training College in Dublin, now a unit of Dublin City University.
The baptismal font comes from the former Church of Ireland at Lynally, near Tullamore.
The magnificent Frobenius organ is the gift of the congregation of Vor Frue Kerk, the Cathedral Church of Our Lady in Copenhagen, and has become the enabling force for the Tullamore Internation Summer Organ Series.
For information on the modern parish go to www.tullamoreparish.ie.