Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church, Cygnet

Mary Street, Cygnet. Approximate location on Google Maps.

Opened 1903
Demolished c.1939

Photo, 1900s
Photos of older St James & newer building of both stone and weatherboard

There seem to have been four Catholic churches at Cygnet. The first was a weatherboard, possibly temporary, building erected in the early 1860s. This was replaced in 1867 by a more a more substantial small weatherboard church, St James. In 1903 a stone church, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, was constructed which incorporated the older building. This was later demolished and the current St James built in 1940.

(By Our Special Representative.)
The ceremony of laying the first stone of the new Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus at Port Cygnet was performed on the 15th by the Most Rev. Dr. Murphy, Archbishop of Hobart. The weather was, unfortunately, very wet, with the almost necessary result that the attendance on the occasion was diminished.

Arrangements had been made for the fine steamer Mahinapua, of the Union Steamship line, to run from Hobart to Port Cygnet on the Sunday morning; the Hopetoun to run from Huonville, and call at Franklin, Jackson Point, and Shipwrights’ Point; and the Nubeena to run from Southport, and call at Port Esperance. The three steamers ran to Port Cygnet, but, as may be supposed, the passengers carried were far less in number than if the weather had been fine. For instance, 130 travelled by the Mahinapua, though she could have taken 350; and, beyond doubt, the latter number would have been carried had the day been inviting. However, the passengers by the Mahinapua made the best of the circumstances, and the operatic music furnished by a few Italian- minstrels helped materially to make the 45-mile trip to Lovell even pleasant. After the recent very hot weather experienced in Hobart, perfectly cool weather on board ship, even if accompanied by rain, was a delightful experience. The thunderstorm of the Saturday evening had palpably cleared the atmosphere, and the change from heat to cold-for people had to resort to overcoats-was grateful under any circumstances. The Mahinapua left the Elizabeth-street pier at 9.20 a.m., and landed her passengers at the lower jetty at Port Cygnet at 1.10 p.m.

At Port Cygnet, it had been raining since 2 o’clock on the Saturday, and the road from the jetty to Lovell, a mile in length, was marked by mud and water, just as it is often concealed by dust when the weather is dry and hot. So, on the 15th, it was not inviting to pedestrians, particularly ladies, and there are no trams connecting Lovell with the ship- ping. The Rev. P. J. O’Flynn, the pastor of the district, with great thoughtfulness, made all the arrangements possible for conveying the visitors to the site of the new church, but his resources were not illimitable. Not a few had to “negotiate” the wet and muddy road, and they did it courageously. So much for the weather and its consequences.

Now a word concerning the new church. The existing Catholic Church of St. James’s was opened and dedicated in February, 1867 – exactly 36 years ago. It was built by the Rev. J. Holehan, then pastor of Port Cygnet, but now in charge of Kingston. It is a wooden church, picturesque in design; but, as may be supposed, the congregation have outgrown the accommodation afforded. The Mass at the dedication of the present church was celebrated by the Very Rev. P. R. Hennebry, now pastor of St. Joseph’s, Hobart, and the sermon was preached by the Very Rev. Dean Hayes, of the Order of St. Augustine, then in charge of St. Kilian’s. Bendigo, Victoria. Soon afterwards, Dean Hayes was appointed Bishop of Armidale, Now South Wales, but he died in Dublin be- fore consecration. The present pastor of Port Cygnet has been in charge for the lost nine years, having boon sent thither from the Cathedral staff. The first contract for the erection of the new church is for the building of the chancel, the walls of which will embrace a portion of the present church. In fact, the new church will be built outside the old one, and the latter used as long as it does not stand in the way of the builder’s operations. When it does, of course , it will be pulled down.

The chancel now about to be built will, like the whole of the new church, be composed of Port Cygnet white stone, a new quarry of which has been opened at Cradoc Hill, three and a half miles from Lovell It will be 26 feet by 23 feet; the walls on the inside will be 16 feet in height ; and it will be 41 feet from the floor to the apex of the roof. the altar platform will be 3 feet above the floor. The floor will be of Tasmanian hardwood, and the ceiling of pine, nicely panelled,” stained, and varnished. The present contract is to be completed in six months. The contract price is £735. The architects are Messrs. Walker and Salier, of Hobart, and the contractor is Mr. Jonas Cranston, New Town.
The Mercury, 16 February 1903

At Port Cygnet yesterday the opening ceremony of the new sanctuary of the church of the Sacred Heart was conducted. A large number of visitors journeyed from the surrounding district, while the Union Company’s ss. Oonah conveyed about 200 passengers from Hobart, this small number being no doubt caused either by the cold conditions prevailing at the early our of departure, 8.15 am. The weather, however, turned out to be perfect, and the enjoyment of the trip down was greatly enhanced by an excellent programme of music supplied by Southey’s orchestra. The church was crowded to the doors, shortly after our arrival. It was pointed out by Bishop Delany in the course of his sermon that many of the parishioners wanted to have a complete building raised in place of the little church which was now too small to meet the growing needs of the community, but both the Rev. Father O’Flynn and himself had advised them to go slowly, and only to build a little at a time. It might look inartistic, he said to have a church constructed partly of stone and partly of wood, but so soon as they could afford it they could complete what they had commenced. The parishioners followed the wise advice of their spiritual pastors, and may be congratulated on their common-sense. The building of the sanctuary cost £1020,of which about £700 had been paid before the opening service was held, leaving a debt of about £320 to be met. In the centre of the sanctuary was the high altar, to the left the altars of the Virgin Mary and St, Joseph,while to the right was the altar of the Sacred Heart, each plentifully adorned with flowers. Over the high altar was a stained glass window, the central portion representing the crucifixion,with the sorrowing women on either side; to the left was a representation of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, and to the right of St. Patrick, the windows being set off by deeply colored stained glasses indifferent designs. To the right of the altar of the Sacred Heart were two memorial windows—one in memory of the late Edward Dillon and Edward Ryan,and the other in memory of the parents of the Rev. Father O’Flynn.
Tasmanian News, 3 April 1905

Evidence of progress is being shown by the new buildings now under construction during the past week. The old Catholic Church has been demolished and builders are busy preparing the foundation of the new church, which is to be of brick.

Huon & Derwent Times, 18 January 1940

On Sunday, February 18, his Grace Dr. Simonds, Archbishop of Hobart, blessed the foundations of a new church at Cygnet, where the Catholic people are strong in numbers as well as in faith. Father John Murphy built the first church — a humble weatherboard structure — eighty-four years ago. Then in, 1867 Father Holehan was a little more ambitious, building the church of St, James, portion of which formed the nave of the building recently demolished. It has fallen to the lot of Father Kent, the present parish priest, to erect a permanent place of worship.
Catholic Freeman’s Journal (Sydney), 22 February 1940

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