St. Fergal's Parish, Bray, Co. Wicklow, Ireland

Parish History

St. Fergal’s Parish


St. Fergal’s Parish was constituted in 1975 from the parish of Queen of Peace. Archbishop Dermot Ryan invited the Franciscan Friars to undertake the pastoral care of the new parish. The Friars invited the Marist Sisters to teach in the school and to assist them in their pastoral work. The parish was placed under the patronage of St Fergal, an Irish missionary who became bishop of Salzburg in 767

In 1980 the present church was built, to replace the Nissen Hut church/school on Boghall Road. St. Pope John Paul II blessed the foundation stone during his visit to Maynooth the previous year

The Franciscan Order handed the administration of the parish back to the Archdiocese in June 2000, because of lack of personnel. Since then the parish has been administered by diocesan priests


Stained Glass Artist

George Walsh


St. Fergal’s Church

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We were recently honoured by a visit to St. Fergal’s by Stained Glass Artist George Walsh who designed the Stained Glass windows in St. Fergal’s Church, the windows featuring St. Francis and St. Clare, the depiction of St. Fergal on marble at the back of the Church and the tabernacle door. We were indeed happy to see the original drawings of the window designs which he brought along. Art writer Finola Finlay was a member of the visiting party and we are grateful to her and to feature her article on him .

We thank George for the time he willingly gave us to talk about his artwork  we are so privilaged to have in St. Fergal’s.

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St. Francis

The Stained-Glass window on the left hand side of the represents the Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon.

It is above the etched clear glass portrait of St. Francis. The Canticle witnesses the profound union between Francis and creation,

seen as a gift of God. This union is built upon the category of universal fraternity, in such a way that every creature becomes for Francis a brother and sister.

The Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon

Most High, all powerful, good Lord,

Yours are the praises, the glory, the honour, and all blessing.

To You alone, Most High, do they belong,

and no one is worthy to mention Your name.

Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures,

especially through my lord Brother Sun,

who brings the day; and you give light through him.

And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendour!

Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Praise be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon

and the stars, in heaven you formed them

clear and precious and beautiful.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind,

and through the air, cloudy and serene,

and every kind of weather through which

You give sustenance to Your creatures.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,

which is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,

through whom you light the night and he is beautiful

and playful and robust and strong.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Mother Earth,

who sustains us and governs us and who produces

varied fruits with coloured flowers and herbs.

Praised be You, my Lord, through those who give pardon for Your love,

and bear infirmity and tribulation.

Blessed are those who endure in peace

for by You, Most High, they shall be crowned.

Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death,

from whom no living one can escape.

Woe to those who die in mortal sin.

Blessed are those whom death will find in Your most holy will,

for the second death shall do them no harm.

Praise and bless my Lord, and give Him thanks and serve Him with great humility. AMEN

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St. Clare

The stained-glass window on the right hand side of the altar is representation of the Eucharist the Bread of Life and below it in clear glass is an etched portrait of St. Clare holding a Monstrance. Because between September 1240 and June 1241, a pair of armies attacked the monastery of San Damiano and the town of Assisi. Both targets were successfully defended as St Clare prayed to the Risen Christ, present in the Blessed Sacrament.

Children’s Prayers Before Communion

Lord Jesus, come to me. Lord Jesus, give me your love.

Lord Jesus come to me and give me yourself.

Lord Jesus, friend of children, come to me.

Lord Jesus, you are my Lord and my God.

Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ.

Children’s Prayers After Communion

Lord Jesus, I love and adore you. You’re a special friend to me.

Welcome, Lord Jesus, O welcome, Thank you for coming to me.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, O thank you for giving yourself to me.

Make me strong to show your love wherever I may be.

Be near me Lord Jesus;

I ask you to stay close by me forever, and love me, I pray.

Bless all of us children in your tender care,

and prepare us for heaven, to live with you there.

I’m ready now Lord Jesus to show how much I care

I’m ready now to give your love at home and everywhere.

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The Abstract Cross

The stained-glass window between the statues of the Sacred Heart and Our Lady is an Abstract depiction of the Cross


Known for his remarkable knowledge of the Bible and preaching. In this window I have shown the Bible in abstract form over the entrance, through which we pass. Thus symbolically speaking we relize, like St. Anthony, the great experience of God.
Stained Glass Artist: George Walsh

Prayer to St. Anthony

O holy Saint Anthony, gentlest of saints

your love of God and Charity of your neighbour

Made you worthy when on earth to possess miraculous powers.

Miracles waited on your word which you were ever ready to speak,

For those in trouble or anxiety.

Encouraged by this thought I implore you to obtain for me my request.

(here we take the opportunity to call to mind our special needs)

The answer to my prayer may require a miracle.

Even so you are the Saint of miracles.

O gentle and Loving St. Anthony

Whose heart was ever full of human sympathy.

Bring my prayer to the presence of Jesus.

And the gratitude of my heart will ever be yours. Amen.

Leader: St. Anthony preacher of the Gospel. All: Hear our prayer

Leader: St. Anthony friend of all in need. All: Hear our prayer

Leader: St. Anthony defender of the power All: Hear our prayer

Leader: St. Anthony beloved of God and friend of People All: Your memory is held in Blessing

Let us pray,

God of compassion of peace, your fatherly care

for all your Children is reflected in your servant Anthony.

You raised him up in your own time,

to be a fearless preacher and defender of the poor.

Inspire us, by the concern he still shows for the afflicted and the lost,

to be more sensitive to human need and untiring in relieving stress.

This we ask through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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St. Fergal/St. Virgil

As a result of St. Patrick’s apostolic work Ireland became known as the island of Saints and Scholars.

Monasteries of men and women were established throughout the length and breadth of the land.

The most characteristic feature of their spirituality was undoubtedly their missionary zeal.

St. Fergal (Virgilius in Latin) was one of those great Irish monks who became pilgrims for Christ.

They were the men to whom the Holy Father Pope John Paul II, paid such moving tribute when he stood in the ruins of the ancient monastery of Clonmacnoise.

Fergal was born about the year 710, and according to tradition became a monk in the abbey of Aghaboe near Mountrath in Co.

Laois. Here he prayed and studied. His special interest was astronomy, and he wrote a hook on this subject.

In later years he became known by such titles as Geographer, Geometer and Mathematician.

He has been regarded as a scholar who was centuries ahead of Copernicus and others, in his understanding of the shape of the

world and the possibility of human life in the Southern Hemisphere.

He left Ireland about the year 740 and went to the court of King Pippen, in what is now Northern France.

After the king had suppressed an insurrection in Bavaria he sent Fergal to the defeated Duke Odilo, who nominated him as Abbot of the monastery of St. Peter in Salzburg now a city in Austria and bishop of the surrounding area.

However, St. Boniface, the great English missionary in Germany, opposed his appointment.

After administering the diocese as a priest for some years, Fergal was eventually ordained bishop on the 15 th June, 767.

Five years later he completed his gigantic task of converting the Alpine Slays to the Gospel of Christ.

In 774 he finished the building of Salzburg first cathedral and dedicated it to the memory of his predecessor, St. Rupert

He died in 784 with a reputation for learning and sanctity. He was formally canonised in 1233 by Pope Gregory IX. In I274 he was made co-patron of Salzburg with St. Rupert. A relic of St. Fergal is on display in the Church.

Prayer for Our Parish

Lord God, we ask you to bless our Parish.

Help us to know you in a deeper way.

Help us to sincerely live in imitation of Jesus, your Son,

with the power of the Spirit in our hearts.

Bless all families in our Parish,

especially families that experience difficulties.

Bless all the children and young people in our Parish.

Bless the old, the lonely and the sick, at home and in hospital.

Bless those who grieve, those who despair of life,

and all who suffer pain and hurt.

Bring the grace of healing, peace and hope

to all hearts and through the intercession of St Fergal,

to whom our Parish is dedicated,

may your love be upon us as we place all our trust in you.

We ask your blessing too, Lord God,

through St Fergal, on our Parish Community

that we may become a place of hospitality,

love, welcome and support for all.

We make this prayer to you

in the name of Jesus the Lord. Amen.

Mary, Mother of Jesus,

bring all our lives to the heart of Jesus, your Son,

that through you, we may know his love and Peace.

Depiction of St. Fergal on stone at the back of the Church by
Stained Glass Artist: George Walsh

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Stained Glass Artist George Walsh on left and Fr. Jimmy McPartland, Co-PP, St. Fergal’s, photographed in front of the tabernacle door which George designed

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Stained Glass Artist, George Walsh,  photograohed alongside the window of St. Clare which he designed

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Some of the original design  drawings which George brought to show us


GEORGE W. WALSH (6.1939) by Finola Finlay

‘Thoroughly grounded in his own modernist practice, George Walsh nevertheless represents a link with the great tradition of stained glass of the first half of the twentieth century.

George Stephen Walsh, George’s father, apprenticed under Harry Clarke and worked in Clarke’s studio, later moving to Clokey of Belfast.  There George served his apprenticeship under his father, attending the Belfast College of Art concurrently.  In 1957 George Stephen moved the family to Wisconsin, the first of several trips across the Atlantic for the Walsh family. Father and son worked in the Conrad Pickel Studio in Waukesha, Wisconsin.  When George’s father and family returned to Ireland, George moved to the Conrad Schmitt Studio in Milwaukee, mastering dalle de verre and, for George, expanding the range of his artistic vision.

Frank Ryan of Abbey-Stained Glass Studios asked George to return to Ireland in the early 6os to join the studio along with their lead artist William Earley.  For Abbey he developed expansive dalle de verre windows (e.g., Raheny) and traditional leaded-glass pieces, such as the huge windows for Guardian Angels in Blackrock or St Augustine’s in Galway, which hint at the influence of Gabriel Loire, the dalle de verre master, in their size and swathes of swirling colour.

George went out on his own in the 1970s, his distinctive style evolving into his signature blend of the sacred and the secular, executed in brilliant colour and complex lead lines.  He formed creative partnerships with several architects, most notably Eamon Hedderman of Holly Park Studio, Dr Richard Hurley, Dublin, and Paddy Rooney in Sligo, who were re-interpreting liturgical spaces after Vatican II.  At its most interesting, this movement led to a whole new approach in church design, but George took the principles into his windows as well.  He wanted the images in glass to tell the story of the place and the everyday lives of its people, as well as the sacred iconography chosen by the parish.

Outstanding examples of George’s work using this principle abound.  In the remote Beata Peninsula, the plain facade of St Kentigern’s Catholic Church in Eyeries belies the blaze of colour within.  The eleven windows tell the story of Eyeries interwoven with religious themes, beginning with seismic upheavals, dinosaurs, and cosmic storms, leading on to ancient Ireland and passage grave-inspired images.  Themes of emigration, communication, farming, and fishing mingle with depictions of the Resurrection and Nativity.

The lives of those residing on the fault-line between Protestant and Catholic areas are reflected in the award-winning Church of the Holy Family in Belfast.  This church is a re-imagining by Eamon Hedderman, Holly Park Studio, of how the building shell, the furniture and the decoration can seamlessly create a fully integrated experience.  Here, George designed and executed the windows, bronze tabernacle and stations, the latter executed by Laura O’Hagan.  The site context is the framework for a set of extraordinary statements: the crucifixion station uses an automatic weapon to shoot nails into Jesus’s hands and feet; a nearby window shows two faces separated by barbed wire, while through the glass the reality of razor wire on an outside wall is visible.

Only an artist that has been classically trained in stained glass techniques could produce the complex images in which George specialised.  Larger pieces of coloured or flashed glass (always painted, acided or textured) were balanced by areas in which each colour was a separate fragment of glass, all cut and shaped in different ways and leaded together to produce a final arresting effect.

Motifs repeat in George’s work: water undulates around the space; hands clasp in friendship and reconciliation; sun and wind reference great elemental forces; beehive huts and monks conjure up the past; animals, fish, birds (often extinct types) and insects leap, swim, and fly by.  Knights ride horses into battle and a postman delivers mail on his bicycle.  These details enrich the spaces between larger-scale depictions of the Risen Christ, the Nativity, or local saints.  This mixture of the sacred and the secular, the devotional and the quotidian, embedded in richly coloured, abstract, and sophisticatedly leaded glass has become his hallmark.

In between commissions George has focused on his personal art practice, ranging from large windows, small-scale display pieces in both leaded and fused glass, paintings in oils and water colours, and collages, he has exhibited widely and is currently represented by the Trinity Gallery, Dublin.

Article courtesy Finola Finlay


Finola Finlay


Peter Growney

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The bronze crucifix which hangs on the sanctuary wall is a gift to the Church of St. Fergal from the Archbishop of Salzburg, it was specially designed for this church by an Austrian artist, Josef Zenzmaier,

He was inspired by the violence suffered in Ireland, during the last century and during the ages of religious persecution to show Christ in his agony.  The figure on the cross is still alive, the body twisted by pain, we are reminded that Christ continues to suffer in people today.  How often have we seen bodies torn apart by bombs, bodies lying twisted on the footpath after being murdered, people writhing in grief because relatives or friends have been killed or injured?

The artist also wanted to show that suffering and violence do not overcome Christ. the face of Christ is peaceful, serene, victorious. beyond the agony on the cross there is the resurrection.

The lesson is an obvious one. violence is not overcome by violence; it is overcome by patience, gentleness, and love.


Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:

where there is hatred let me sow love,

where there is injury let me sow pardon,

where there is doubt let me sow faith,

where there is despair let me sow hope,

where there is darkness let me give light,

where there is sadness let me give joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may

not try to be comforted but to comfort,

not try to be understood but to understand,

not try to be loved but to love.

because it is in giving that we receive,

it is in forgiving that we are forgiven,

and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.