A small Mass house was built on the site of the present St. Joseph’s Hall around the year 1720. This was replaced between 1750 and 1775 by a larger church on the site of the old Convent National School, which is now the church car park. This building was renovated many times, but was considered to be too small to accommodate the number of parishioners attending Mass by the middle of the 19th Century.
In the early 1880s, the parish priest, Fr. Smollen, realising the necessity of providing Clones with a suitable church, had accumulated a substantial sum of money for that purpose. When he was leaving Clones he handed this money over to his successor, Dean O’Neill.
The site of the old church was not considered suitable for the proposed new building. Fortunately, Dean O’Neill was able to obtain a field, containing an acre and a half, adjoining the old church. The holder of the property, Mr Smith, sold his interest in the plot of ground to Dean O’Neill for £100. Frederick Wrench, the agent of the Clones estate, accepted Dean O’Neill as a tenant at a rent of £4 per year. At this time a dispute arose between the landlord, Thomas Lennard, and the local business people regarding market rights. Dean O’Neill was helpful in finding a solution to the dispute. As a consequence of this, when the landlord was selling the estate to the tenants, Dean O’Neill negotiated with the agent and the landlord gave the acre and a half, rent free, for 999 years for Church purposes. The Church of The Sacred Heart, the Curates’ house, and the old Largy primary school are all on this plot of land.
The architect who drew the plans for the new church was Mr William Hague, F.R.I.A, 50 Dawson Street, Dublin, a native of Cavan. Mr Patrick Nolan, Monaghan, an experience church builder, was the contractor. The contract price for the building was £7000.
Dr Donnelly, Bishop of Clogher, laid the foundation stone on Sunday, 13th September 1891. The sealed bottle placed in the cavity beneath the foundation stone contained coins of the year 1891, current copies of the "National Press” (Dublin), "The Irish News” (Belfast), and "The Peoples’ Advocate” (Monaghan).
There was also enclosed a piece of vellum with the following inscription in Latin:
Lapis iste angularis
In Ecclesia Ssmi Cordis Domini Nostri Jesu
Christi apud Clones
Die Decimo Tertio Septembris, 1891
Leone Decimo Tertio Papa
Jacobo Donnelly Episcopo Clogherensi
Admodum L.J.O’Neill Paracho.
Capituli Clogherensi Cancellano
Victoria Regina Regnante in his Regionibus
The following is an architectural description of the church as it was constructed in 1895:
`The plan of the church is cruciform and the style Gothic. It consists of nave with aisles, transept, chancel, chapels, and sacristies. The entire length is 112 feet: the width across the transepts, 90 feet, and across the nave and aisles 45 feet. The height from the apex of the roof to the floor level is about 50 feet. The masonry is broken ashlar (stone), and the material local limestone relieved with Carnmore free stone dressings. The main entrance under the tower is approached by three cut stones steps. The doorway is enriched with jamb shafts and finely wrought arches. The vestibule is of pitch pine and ornamental glass; its floor, as are the floors of other entrances, the nave and aisle passages, and that of the transepts, is laid in ornamental tiling. The impression left by a view of the interior from the entrance door is one of symmetry and beauty. Massive red Aberdeen monoliths, highly polished, with stone cut plinths and moulded capitals, from the pillars between the nave and aisles. From these spring a series of moulded arches carrying the clerestory (upper nave wall), which is pierced with two light windows. The gables have each tall three-light windows under a retaining arch. The lighting of the church is very satisfactory both in quantity and tone. The graceful high altar, designed in exact keeping with the architecture of the church, is dedicated to the Sacred Heart; those of the Side Chapels are dedicated under the invocation of the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph. The organ gallery, over the main entrance, is both spacious and comfortable; and the acoustic properties of the church are satisfactory. The boundary wall which separates the church grounds from the street, is of hammered limestone, crapped with a massive, finely chiselled freestone coping.`
The contractor for the high altar, the pulpit and the baptismal font was Thomas Ryan, Dublin; for the side altars the contractor was John O'Neill, Belfast; for the church seats it was James Wynne, Dundalk; for the sacristy furniture and confessionals it was Brian Moonan, Maynooth. The laying out of the grounds was contracted to Mr. Shepherd of Dublin.
A total of £14,000 was spent on the building of the church, excluding the tower and the spire. Miss Mary Brady, Clones, presented the beautiful stained glass window behind the altar. The bell, weighing 32 cwts., the hammer of the bell weighing 58lbs, and the turret clock, which cost £100, were all presented by a Miss MacDonnell. The Stations of the Cross were designed by Meyer of Munich. The building of the church began in 1891 and was completed in 1895.
Cardinal Michael Logue dedicated the Church of the Sacred Heart on the 8th September, 1895. The dedication was followed by a High Mass, celebrated by Rev. Edward Mulhern, President of St. Macarton's Seminary. The Master of Ceremonies with Archdeacon Smollen, P.P., Enniskillen. Most Rev. Dr. Owens, Bishop of Clogher, addressed the congregation, as did Dean O'Neill, thanking them for their generosity. Dean O'Neill ended up saying, "Glory be to God on High. May His best blessings descend upon you all."
After the religious ceremonies ended a deputation representing the priests and people of Clones went to the vestry and presented an address to Cardinal Logue.
The first mission in the Sacred Heart Church took place in May, 1896.
Five years later the spire of the Church of the Sacred Heart was completed. Dr. Owens, Bishop of Clogher, dedicated it on the 19th August, 1900.
The other churches in the parish are St. Macarton's, Aghadrumsee and St. Alphonsus', Connons. Both churches were used for weddings and funerals during the 2003 renovation work on the Sacred Heart Church. We are grateful for the hospitality of the people of the Connons and Aghadrumsee and for their support for this project from the outset.