OPW announce the return of St. Thomas’ Baptismal Font to Newcastle West after an absence of nearly 60 years

28 June 18

The Office of Public Works (OPW) is delighted to welcome the return of the St. Thomas’ Baptismal Font to Newcastle West.  The baptismal font was originally located in St. Thomas’ Church in Newcastle West which was built in 1777 but deconsecrated in 1958 and demolished in 1962.  After an absence of nearly 60 years the font is returning back to Newcastle West and will be located in Desmond Castle, close to the original site of St. Thomas’ Church.Desmond Castle, Newcastle West, is a complex site which has developed over the years and its uses over the centuries have been varied – from a defensive structure in the 1200s to a cinema and community hall in more recent history.  The only reminder of St. Thomas’ is the footprint of the building inside the gate and so, the font is very precious both to the National Monument and to the town.

The restoration of the Font was carried out by OPW craft persons.

The font was used for the baptism of Sophie Peirce (1896-1939), an early Irish aviation pioneer and native of Newcastle West.  She broke the world altitude record for British light aircrafts in 1927 and also lectured on aviation. In 1928 she became the first pilot to fly solo from Cape Town to London, one of her most well known accomplishments.


Photography from the launch will be available from Marie Keating, 087 2977409 or mariekeatingphotography@gmail.com after the event.

For further information please contact OPW Client Services and Communications opwcsc@opw.ie

Follow us on Twitter @opwireland

Follow us on Facebook @opwireland

Notes to Editors:

The font was originally from St. Thomas’s Church in Newcastle West which was built in  1777 and demolished in 1962.  The church was paid for by William, second Viscount Courtenay. There is little historical information on the font.  From the Bishop’s Visitation records, the church appears to have been in a decent condition, but over time fell into disrepair. The church was deconsecrated in 1958 and demolished in 1962 following the decline in attendance figures. The font was moved and eventually relocated to St. Mary’s Cathedral and the altar was given to Kilflynn Church, about 50km south-east from Newcastle West. 

Desmond Hall

The Desmond Banqueting Hall is an imposing two-storey structure and was used by the Earls of Desmond for banqueting and entertainment. The Hall, vaulted lower chamber and adjoining tower were all constructed during the 15th century (the hall and chamber were built on the remains of a 13th century structure of similar size). Its restored medieval features include and oak musicians' gallery and a limestone hooded fireplace.

Opening Hours:

26th April to 5th September (inclusive)

Daily - 10.00 to 18.00 (Last admission 45 minutes before closing).

Admission is FREE.