Built in 1875, shortly after the current incarnation of its Protestant neighbour across the street (St Macartin’s Cathedral ), St Michael’s was designed by John O’Neill a very distinguished 19th century Ulster Catholic architect. His design had included a belfry and spire but these could not be built at the time because of soft foundations. A unique but necessary feature of St Michael’s are the flying-buttresses which were added in 1921 to reinforce the west wall. The current spire was added in later years.
This French Gothic style church has a very narrow street frontage but it extends quite some distance backwards. The exterior of the church is best viewed from the rear on Wellington Road where its size becomes apparent (picture one). Note also the buttresses which I referred to above in this picture.
Internally the church is quite beautiful and is laid out in basilica style with six bay arcades, each containing artwork, on either side of the main aisle. The florid Italian-Gothic High Altar was built in 1882.
Of particular significance and beauty is the artwork in the church – amongst which you will find 1890s paintings of the Transfiguration, the Sermon on the Mount, Magdalen at the feet of our Lord, and the Baptism in the Jordan by Charles Russell and a 1910 Nativity scene by Michael Healy. Prior to entering the church don’t forget to look up and admire the intricate carving over the main external door.
History was made in 2012 when St Michael’s Church was selected as the first Catholic Church in Northern Ireland (and indeed Ireland) to be visited by Queen Elizabeth II.
This blog entry is one of a group (loop) of entries based on many trips to Enniskillen. I suggest you continue with my next entry – The Old Buttermarket: “Quality Local Arts and Crafts” – or to start the loop at the beginning go to my introductory entry – “Fare thee well Enniskillen, ………..”