For anyone who has grown up in this area, the near-life-size Christmas crib that’s hidden in the walls of Delgany’s Catholic church have always been a big part of the festive season.
How to explain this manger to someone who’s never seen it, up close and personal? Well, it’s basically a Caravaggio painting in 3D. Only better.
It was whilst exploring the annals of this 163-year-old church that the resident Carmelite nuns discovered the crib’s origins. It was in 1870 that a “pious woman from Bray” donated the nativity scene figures to the church, leaving no name. Between 1870 and 1879, a 15-foot-deep home for the manger setting was built on the side of the small church, its presence hidden for most of the year behind a wall panel.
Sister Gwen – with her 99-year-old grandmother Mrs Teresa Fleming – joining the Carmelites Nov 1983
Making its big reveal every Christmas Eve all the more magical.
We were lucky enough to talk to Sister Gwen Collins from the monastery about the crib’s origins, along with its impact and significance over the last century and a half, which you can catch in our video below, recorded on Tuesday December 22nd, 2015.
Since then, sadly, the Carmelite nuns decided to pack up and move on, their Delgany home selling for a staggering €15m in November 2019. The Lord moves in mysterious – and highly lucrative – ways, my child…
You can find out more about the Carmelite Monasteryhere. You can also check out Shay Clear’s oral history of the Carmelite Monasteryhere.
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