Our new (old) pipe organ!

The Church of the Immaculate Conception, Enniskeane, was dedicated for worship in 1871. At the time, the people of Enniskeane and their Parish Priest Fr. Daniel Coveney built a parish church fitting for the worship of God to replace the earlier chapel. It was customary at the time to add other church elements, such as an organ, in the years following the opening of a church. Funds were not there then to install a pipe organ in the church. One is being provided in Enniskeane’s church now on the church’s 141st birthday — while also preserving part of our local heritage, culture and religious tradition.

Now, the parishioners and friends of Enniskeane & Desertserges Parish have made this moment in our parish’s history their own – and in turn go down in history, by sponsoring one of the organ’s pipes. (As at Nov 13th, 2012, all the pipes have been sponsored. Many thanks.)

A few miles to the south and a few years after Enniskeane’s church was dedicated, the Sisters of Mercy in Clonakilty commissioned a pipe organ for their new convent (built in 1866) from the firm Bryceson Brothers and Ellis, London.

Photo of the organ in situ in Clonakilty Convent in 2008.

The Convent annals record that the installation of the organ was first proposed by then Bishop of Ross, Dr. Michael O’Hea, during a visit in 1874 (O’Hea was a native of Rosscarbery and was Bishop of Ross from 1858 to 1876.) Bishop O’Hea donated the first £5 towards the organ fund.

The organ was built in London and transported to Clonakilty where it was installed and blessed in 1878 in the Convent Chapel. The components arrived in “two well laden carts” in Clonakilty on August 6th.

It was first used for the Solemn Profession of three Mercy Sisters on August 20th, 1878. There it has been part of the worship of the community until the convent closed 130 years later in 2008.In the intervening years, some modifications were made to the organ — mainly due to the arrival of electricity. Originally, the 175kg bellows was filled with air by a hand pump which has a long lever which was worked by one of the sisters while the organ was played! Air is now supplied to the organ bellows by an electric blower and the air to each of the pipes is also controlled by electric switches since the 1980s. (All these electrical components have been upgraded as the organ is installed in Enniskeane.) The pipe organ was disassembled and stored in 2008 by Enniskeane parishioner Pádraig O’Donovan who remained committed to finding a new ‘home’ for it.

view of organ
This is the front of the organ (with just the first set of pipes in place) in its new home in the gallery of The Church of the Immaculate Conception, Enniskeane, Co Cork.

Now he has installed it, following refurbishment, in Enniskeane parish church where it will be part of the worship of Almighty God by present and future generations for many years. So in 2012, the paths of the 1871 church in Enniskeane and that of the 1878 pipe organ from London (via Clonakilty) are about to be intertwined. The gallery of Enniskeane church has been carefully reinforced using local skills before the organ installation began and without compromising the historic integrity of our church.

Part of the original packing crate from the makers in London, with an address label for “The Reverend Mother, Convent of Mercy, Clonakilty”.

The fabric of the organ has also been restored to its original condition: the timber panels have been stripped and restored in Cork to reveal the beauty of the Columbian pine wood; the large main bellows has been rebuilt in England (it will store and pump 40 cubic feet of air); the pipes have been revoiced by specialists in Belfast; the decorative stencilling has been redone in Clonakilty; and the re-installation of the organ is in the hands of Pádraig O’Donovan, Gurranes.

The pipe organ will be a blessing for our faith community and will aid our parish choirs, organists and congregations in giving praise to God. It will also afford local people the opportunity to learn to play a historic and beautiful instrument whose quality is unmatched by any modern electronic imitation.

Pipe Sponsorship

Each pipe in the organ is unique and it plays its own note. Some are made of wood – most are made of metal.

Each of the pipe organ’s 678 pipes is designed and tuned to play one note. So, for example, one pipe plays ‘middle C’ with the sound of a viola, another pipe plays it with the sound of a flute, yet another plays the note of middle C on an oboe, etc. Each pipe plays a unique note.

The organist can play them individually or in groups. The organ is at its best when each pipe is tuned and when they work in harmony …a bit like a parish, or the Church.

The 2012 Pipe Organ Sponsorship Programme involved dedicating each pipe in the organ to a named individual or family.

The parish recorded the name and address of the person(s) who has given the donation to sponsor the pipe(s). The dedication and the sponsorship will both be recorded in the parish records and also printed in a special volume which will be stored in the organ gallery of the church. The sponsor will receive a certificate in the post showing which pipe has been dedicated.

(As at Nov 13th, 2012, all the pipes have been sponsored. Many thanks.)