Former church to take centre stage at charity show

  Musician Caoimhin Vallely, John Mustard, organist, architect Huw O'Toole, and Julie Wilkins, Jack and Jill Foundation, at St Luke's Church. Picture: Michael Mac Sweeney

The man staging a charity variety show in a landmark former church says he hopes the event will demonstrate the historic venue’s potential as a valuable community resource.

Architect Huw O’Toole, who lives in St Luke’s in Cork, has secured permission from Cork City Council, which owns the building, to stage the show there on Dec 6, with all proceeds going to The Jack and Jill Foundation.

But Mr O’Toole said the church is such a wonderful venue, he hopes the event will demonstrate its potential, and show how it can be used more by the people of Cork.

“It is a beautiful stunning church and it is in such good condition. The council is to be praised for stepping in and saving it,” he said.

“We are trying to raise the profile of the building. We hope that this variety concert will show people that this building can be their resource, and they should start using it.”

Designed in the Romanesque style by John Benson and William Hill, the church was consecrated on Jan 14, 1875. It was the first church built by the Church of Ireland after the Disestablishment of the Church of Ireland Act of 1869.

It was the third church to stand on the site. The two previous churches, which served as chapels-of-ease to St Anne’s Shandon, were demolished as they struggled to cope with increased population growth in the area in the mid-19th century.

The church was destroyed by fire on Feb 9, 1887, and was replaced by a new church designed by Hill which was consecrated on Feb 8, 1889. The final act of worship in modern day St Luke’s took place on Mar 2, 2003.

The building was subsequently acquired by Cork City Council which plans to lease it long-term to Tigh Filí, the cultural group which supports emerging writers, poets and artists, once certain fire regulation issues relating to its basement are resolved.

The December show, which will be staged in the ground floor, will feature talented people living in the St Luke’s area, including Ricky Lynch, musicians Niall and Caoimhin Vallely, the Cork Yukele Orchestra, St Luke’s Male Voice Choir, and St Angela’s School Orchestra.

It is hoped that up to 500 people will attend. The event will start at 8pm. Tickets, priced at €10, are on sale locally.


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