The present Church of Ratoath replaced a Mass- house of the 1760’s, the site of which is still pointed out at a place called the ‘stepping stones’. The church still retains its medieval dedication to the Most Blessed Trinity.
Most authors recount of a consultation in Ireland, when St. Thomas of Canterbury was sentenced by King Henry VIII, degraded and forbidden to be honoured as a saint, how the people met near a chapel which had been formally dedicated to the same St. Thomas, being by the King’s appointment to elect as the Patron and one coveted to choose St. Peter, St Paul, etc. At length, by advice of one of the best judgement, they elected the Blessed Trinity for their Patron, saying: If the King for other respects would also degrade or depose St. Peter and St. Paul, yet if any would maintain their state against him, none could more forcibly than the Blessed Trinity, The owld Justice Plunkett of Donsoghly was present at this consultation.”
Rev. Reade, S.J., in his commentary on the Book of Machabees refers to the above and says that the Holy Trinity was suggested by Patrick Mached of Lagore as “the best protection against the unpiety of the heretics” (the Irish Monthly, January 1947, p.3)
It is also recorded in Archibold’s Mss History of the Capuchins that Fr. Barnaby Barnwell, Capuchin, came to Ireland in 1627 and his first missionary excursion took him to Ratoath on the Sundays of Advent. On the last Sunday he exhorted all to gain the indulgences on the Christmas Day.” He was apparently very popular and attracted people from many of the neighbouring villages despite the “tempests and snow.”
In 1623 a Fr. Columba Flynn, also a Capuchin missionary priest, converted a number of local townsmen – 22 in all, including the Magistrate Cardiff.
In 1733 in the parish of Ratoath there was one priest and approximately 215 Catholic families and 35 families of the established church.
The present Church of Ratoath replaced a Mass- house of the 1760’s, the site of which is still pointed out at a place called the ‘stepping stones’. Like all the chapels of the period, it was in constant need of repair. At his visitation in July 1797, Dr Plunkett offered ‘congratulations on the improved state of the house of God’. An account stated ‘notwithstanding the unfavourable state of the weather, the chapel was crowded to excess at an early hour and the galleries exhibited all female rank, beauty and fashion of the surrounding neighbourhood’. At least three galleries would have been necessary to accommodate such a galaxy.
Having provided his children with schools, Rev Richard Carolan, P.P since 1818 directed his attentions towards the need of a proper church. We know from his monument that the church was ‘begun under his auspices’. Tradition gives the date of erection of the church at about 1836 and his plans were probably interrupted for in 1845 we find a bequest of Miss Catherine Bonynge of Rataoth of “he sum of £100.00 towards the completion of the new chapel of Ratoath which is now erected for the greater honour and glory of God”
Rev. Patrick Sheridan does not appear to have added anything to the building and it was left to Fr Fullam to complete it. The stone facing and belfry were added by him in 1868 and the sacristy in 1874. Extensive repairs were carried out by Fr Kelly during 1923-26. They included a new heating system, pitch pine ceiling, windows, chancel arch and altar rails. Speaking at his visitation in July 1925, Dr Gaughran said “You have practically built a new church; £5,637.00 has already been expended on your church repairs and in addition, two contracts for the erection of a new organ gallery and for painting the church are now in hand. The cost of these two contracts will be £1,077. You were asked to put your shoulder to the wheel and you did it. God will not be in your debt. He will give you a rich reward for what you have done for the beauty of His House”
In the intervening years some renovation work was carried out on the church. In the late 1980’s it was decided that a major restoration was necessary. Arthur Lardner, architect, drew up the plans and work was carried out by Pat Donnelly, builder. The church was rededicated by Most Rev. Michael Smith on 20th October 1991, Rev John Kerrane, P.P Dunshaughlin preaching the homily. The total cost of the project was £250,000.
In 1999, as the building was over 164 year old it was decided by the Parish Finance Committee to do work on the Church with the aim of the long-term preservation of the fabric of the building. As a result work was undertaken on a phased basis. In the year 2000 the Church was re-roofed; in 2001 the outside walls were re-plastered and in 2002 extensive repairs were carried out to the windows, the interior of the Church was re-plastered. 2003 saw the interior of the Church repainted and the grounds outside the Church enhanced. In 2004 the Church was re-carpeted and the Church railings re-painted.
The church still retains its medieval dedication to the Most Blessed Trinity.