St. Oliver’s, Clonmel’s newest parish, is almost 30 years old, a special occasion that it is preparing to celebrate with a gala concert.
A Gathering of Music and Song will take place at St. Oliver’s Church at 8pm on Sunday, December 1.
All are welcome to attend this free event, which will feature appearances by The Gordonaires; Liamie Doherty and the St. Christopher’s Folk Group from Carrick-on-Suir; the Something To Sing About Choir; Tipperary Ramblers and The Tipperary Gospel Choir. The MC will be Brendan O’Mahony.
“There was enormous goodwill not only from the people of the parish but throughout the town when the parish was formed”, says Parish Priest Fr. Michael Hegarty. “As well as celebrating our 30 years the concert will be an acknowledgement of the great voluntary effort that established the parish and has sustained it through the years”, he says.
The parish - drawing on areas of St. Mary’s, Ss Peter and Paul’s and Powerstown/Lisronagh - was officially formed on November 27 1983, the first Sunday in Advent. The anniversary concert will also be held on the first Sunday of Advent.
The parish started in St. Oliver’s school, which had been built the previous year, and which was the location for the first Masses, christenings and meetings. A year later it moved home to the complex at Elm Park, thanks to a voluntary labour and fundraising drive that helped purchase the building from the then Corporation and pay for renovations.
An original site for a new church was purchased in the Ardgeeha area (at what is now Ard Caoin) but the development of the nearby bypass meant it was unsuitable. The site of the present church and parish centre, surrounded by Elm Park, Glenconnor and Honeyview Estate, was purchased in 1994 and the new church was opened on December 1 1996.
The parish centre, which had been operating since the previous December, was officially opened in June 2012. When it started the parish had 600 houses, a figure that has since risen to 1,024.
“A great fundraising effort helped build the church and parish centre, as well as renovating the Elm Park complex in the 1980s, and that has to be acknowledged”, says Fr. Hegarty, who coincidentally was the first parish priest in St. Oliver’s, serving from 1983-89, and who returned to Clonmel in 2007.