By Anne Lucey
The cause of a fire which was spotted this morning in the 154-year-old parish church in Kenmare is not known and is being investigated.
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament was taking place in the other end of Holy Cross the at the time.
Gardaí and units of the fire service remain at the scene this afternoon but the fire has been brought under control.
Two units of the fire service, from Kenmare and nearby Sneem attended.
Holy Cross was consecrated in 1864 and four years ago celebrated the 150th anniversary of its opening.
The fire this morning appears to have started in the church’s organ gallery, over the main door, away from where candles are lit.
This was at 9 am, over an hour after it opened.
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament was taking place at the time at a side altar in the Nun’s Chapel at the other end of the large ornate building.
People who were in attendance in the chapel heard the fire and raised the alarm.
Parish priest of Kenmare Fr Tom Crean said the fire would have been potentially devastating had it taken hold.
Fr Crean said there was “an element of relief” that it was so confined but the damage was still being assessed this afternoon. Fire, gardaí and insurance assessors are examining the building this afternoon.
The church normally opens before 8am.
“Holy Cross is a beautiful church and a treasure for the community and for visitors alike, “ Fr Crean said.
There appeared to be smoke damage, Cllr Patrick O’Connor Scarteen, a local Fine Gael councillor who visited the scene earlier this morning said.