The Nire Valley Walking Festival based in the heart of the Comeragh Mountains, Waterford, Ireland.

Nire Church

Next time you are going walking in the Nire, even if your late and in a rush you can not fail to notice the pretty Nire Church (St. Helena's Church). Even if you fly past you can't but notice the Church. There was not always have a church here, in fact the Nire was not even a parish until the late 19th century.  Before 1850 the Nire was a place where six parishes came together; Rathgormack , Clonmel's (St. Peter & Paul's, St. Mary's), Seskinane, Fourmilewater and Kilsheelan. There was a small church in Knockaunbrendan which was not a parish church and did not have a cemetery, this meant that when an inhabitant of the Nire died they were buried in a cemetery at one of the six parishes. In 1859 the foundations for the Nire Church were laid and it took three years to complete. The Church was designed by famous Church architect J.J McCarthy. McCarthy designed churches all over Ireland including Tramore, Clonea-Power, Thurles, Monaghan and many more. 


McCarthy's design is subtle, look closer. The church has more roof than wall, in fact if this church was anywhere else it would look ugly as the amount of roof would make the building look oppressive, but here in the Nire location it works because the outside wall, retaining the cemetery, gives the building a sense of proportion, the Church has also a square bell tower, which is not common on a Roman Catholic Church. An architect I had walking with me pointed out that the slates in the roof were typical of a Welsh layout which he found unusual in a rural Irish location, but there may be an explanation, the slate quarries outside Carrick-on-Suir were worked by Welsh miners and they may have been involved in the roofing of the church. My walking colleague asked had they run out of money building the Church. I asked how he came to that conclusion. He, answered, pointing to the bell tower, that a collar around the tower was too near the cap (roof) on the tower. Local lore does not mention lack of funds instead there is a story of how the weather influenced the capping of the tower. The local story tells us that the builder had fallen behind in his schedule and needed to move to another project, it was decided that, if the following day was good they would cap the tower, otherwise they would go to the other project and return to the Nire at a later date. Well the weather must have been good as it seems the tower should have been a little higher. 
Another beautiful feature of the Church are the bands of various coloured sandstone and the work of the stonemason has to be admired as does the good work of the present day Church committee who keep the building pristine. All the beauty of St. Helena's is not kept to the outside its interior is also beautiful, high barn like with warm wooden beams supporting the high pitched roof.
Listen to local Denis McGrath tell the story of how the bells were sounded twice every Sunday to summon people to mass. If you would like to follow some of the routes taken by locals in their everyday life why not join us between October 12th and 13th, in the Nire Valley, on our Nire Valley, Comeragh Mountain walking festival.


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Superb Walking, Great Talking & Traditional Nire Valley Hospitality     Website by: Déise Design
Nire Valley Walking Festival
Superb Walking, Great Talking & Traditional Nire Valley Hospitality

Michael Wall 086 7702544 | Mary Wall 052 6136134 | Ann Kelly 052 6136939