For almost 150 years, the bell at the church of SS Peter & Paul has tolled across the picturesque village of Bessbrook in Co. Armagh, calling us to prayer and song.
There was celebration upon completion of this beautiful church which was built to accommodate the increasing numbers employed by the local linen industry in Bessbrook. In the days before it was built, Mass was celebrated in a house owned by the Corr family, in the area of Bessbrook known as The Gardens. The development of the Church was the subject of an agreement between the then Parish Priest Father Michael McKevitt and Mr. John Grubb Richardson, the owner of Bessbrook Mill. Construction of the Church commenced in 1868 and was completed in 1874. Sadly Fr. McKevitt died in March 1874 and completion of the church was passed to his successor Canon Charles Quinn.
On the 6th June 1875 the Church of SS Peter & Paul was solemnly dedicated by Primate Rev. Dr. McGettigan. During the High Mass, members of the Holy Family Brass Band had rendered musical selections. This musical tradition has carried on with the presence of the local Camlough Brass and Reed Band who also have rendered their musical selections at all Parish church celebrations.
Included in the further development of the Church was the presence of the Sisters of Mercy who came to Bessbrook in 1888. They played very important pastoral and educational roles in the development of the children and people in Bessbrook and surrounding areas.
The early photograph of the Church shows the gallery in the sanctuary area where the Sisters gathered for Mass. It also highlights the statue of Our Lady which remains in the Church until today.
Many celebrations have taken place and our photograph shows the joy of a wedding in the nineteen sixties.
This beautiful old Church is one of five in the Parish of Lower Killeavy and, as with many buildings of this age and design, it has suffered from various issues which have resulted in the present campaign of restoration and renovation.
It is a Listed Building and it is intended through this campaign to future-proof the Church and ensure that it remains a central focus of life in Bessbrook.
We look forward to the completion of the restoration and renovation of our beautiful church and to the continuance of the coming together as a Parish community in celebrations of word and song.
This compilation is a sample of favourite hymns sung for many years in the Church of SS Peter & Paul. Also included is some beautiful instrumental music. We hope you enjoy the selection.
All proceeds from this CD will go towards the Restoration and Renovation for the Church of SS Peter & Paul.
Kathleen wishes to especially thank: Colm Murphy (Church Organ) and Doreen Finnegan (Piano); Very Rev. Aidan Dunne for granting permission to use the Church for recording; a special sponsor who wishes to remain anonymous; Mr. Patrick Moan and Miss Mary Vint for providing the photographs; and Colum Sands for his professionalism and patience in the recording of this CD in the Church of SS Peter & Paul, Bessbrook, November 2020.
I thank God for the graces and blessings received. Thank YOU for buying this album.