4 St Patricks Church

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Stop 4:  St. Patrick’s Church

This is St. Patrick’s Church. It was built in 1858. The builder was Richard Pierce of Wexford. J.J McCarthy designed the building in early Gothic style. It cost £2,500. Notice the impressive architectural features include chancel nave, an aisle, a bell turret and porches. The church is 110ft long by 60ft wide. There is a lofty arch that is about 42ft. The roof is open timber. The walling is faced with dressed limestone.

The church was named after Reverand Patrick Costin. The building cost £2,500 to build. In our grandparents time, years ago, mass was said in latin. People used to faint because they had to fast for Holy Communion. The Priest used to have his breakfast in the sacristy. A Priest would come from a missionary order to put the fear of God into the people. He would stay for a week or sometimes two. They used to have stalls outside the church selling Religious goods. Everyone had to go to confession once a month: boys one Saturday, girls the next, men the following and women the last Saturday of the month.                                          

There are three graveyards outside St Patrick’s church, two on the right hand side and one across the road.

The old crib was much bigger than the new one and done like a cave with dark rocks. First mass on a Sunday morning was at half past eight in the morning.   

Several years ago Mr. Curran was on holiday in France and the night he was driving to the ferry he stopped at a lay-by for a break. Shortly afterwards an Irish car, which had a Limerick registration number pulled into the lay-by. Mr. Curran went over to speak to the Irish family. After a while the man asked Mr. Curran where he worked, the man was amazed when Mr. Curran told him he worked in Portlaw in Co. Waterford. Why was this stranger amazed?

The reason was that his great great grandfather left his native Italy to come to Portlaw to work on the building of St. Patrick’s Church. He liked Ireland so much he never returned to Italy.

If you would like to see a list of the graves in St. Patrick’s graveyard, click Here


"Little Nellie of Holy God"

Nellie Organ, better known as "Little Nellie of Holy God" was born in the Artillery Barracks in Waterford on August 24th, 1903 and was baptised in the Old Ballybricken Church. This saintly child was the daughter of humble Catholic parents, whose only inheritance was a sterling Irish faith. She was the fourth child of William Organ of Dungarvan - her mother being Mary Aherne of Portlaw. 

In 1905, her father, being a member of the Royal Artillery, was transferred with his family to Spike Island in Cork, and it was here that her mother's health quickly deteriorated and she died from tuberculosis in January, of 1907. Due to his duties as a soldier her father was unable to care for his young children, and so they were placed in orphanages - Nellie and her sister being put in the care of the Good Shepherd Sisters at their Industrial School in Sunday's Well, Cork.

It was soon discovered that the child was suffering from lung tuberculosis and curvature of the spine, and as her frail little body wasted away her heart and soul opened to the love of God and to the illumination of His grace to an extraordinary degree. This little angel had a remarkable intuition concerning the Real Presence, and her progress in religious knowledge and growth in holiness, truly amazed the good Sisters. In fact there were many extraordinarily spiritual facts attested by the Sisters who witnessed them. The long hours she spent in "talking to Holy God", and the secrets He revealed to her, convinced those who came in contact with her of her unusual sanctity.

She lived continuously in the presence of the "Holy God", and her hunger to receive Him in Holy Communion was so intense that the Bishop of Cork permitted her to make her Holy Communion at the tender age of four and a half a permission which was most unusual at that time.

She was taken to her heavenly home on February 2nd 1908 and was laid to rest in the public cemetery of St. Joseph, where her grave became a shrine at which it was rumoured that many found peace and consolation. About a year and a half after her death, her body was transferred from St. Joseph's to the Convent Cemetery at Sunday's Well. At the disinterment her remains were found to he intact, the fingers quite flexible and her clothing exactly as it was on the day of her death.

Pope Pius the Tenth (now St. Pius) named Little Nellie as the Model of the Child Communicant which influenced his decision to encourage early and frequent Communion. Ellen Organ, "Little Nellie of Holy God", had secured a place in the history of the church despite the fact that her life span measured only four years, six months and eight days.

This plaque was erected by the people of Portlaw and blessed by Bishop Russell in 1984.  It is located at St.Patrick's Church, Portlaw 






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