The Church of the Annunciation on Great William O’Brien Street in Blackpool was officially dedicated on the 7th of October 1945

Its design was by the noted Blackpool stone carver Seamus Murphy. The church was built by the staff of Sunbeam Wolsey (under Mick Callaghan, foreman) of which Mr. William Dwyer was the founder and Managing Director.

Seamus Murphy, a native of Mallow, had a stone yard on Watercourse road for many years. Other well-known works by Murphy include the bust of Michael Collins in Fitzgerald’s Park, the busts of Sean O Faolain and Frank O’Connor in the Cork City Library and the curious little water trough for dogs on St. Patrick’s Street.

The Church of the Annunciation, BlackpoolThe Church of the Annunciation, Blackpool

The Church was designed and built as a replacement for Saint Nicholas’ Church, which stood on the site. Saint Nicholas’ was constructed in 1895 by adapting the Blackpool National School building, which then moved to Brockelsby Street. It was financed by Nicholas Murphy of Blarney Woollen Mills. A police barracks had also occupied part of the site.

It is constructed of concrete blocks, stipple plastered inside and out. There is an 80 ft bell tower and two smaller towers that form the transepts. The stained glass, including the impressive crucifix, sanctuary windows and the picture gallery of Our Lord (Nave windows) are by Harry Clarke Studios in Dublin.

The tabernacle, lamp, candlesticks and other brasses were designed by Seamus Murphy and made by Gunnings in Dublin.

The stonework in the church is mostly by Murphy himself. His works include: The Annunciation Panel over the front door; The Annunciation Tablet on the exterior side wall; The Dwyer Plaque in the porch; The Baptismal Font originally at rear of the church, now near the altar; The Holy Water Fonts in polished black limestone; The Main altar depicting corn and grapes; The Children’s Altar depicting the Holy Family; and Our Lady’s Altar depicting a crowned angel and foliage.

The most striking stonework in the church includes the Madonna and Sacred Heart Statues on either side of the main altar. The Sacred Heart is in Portland stone with a marble base and was added to the church in 1947. It is 6ft high.

The Madonna was in the church in 1945 but was located on Our Lady’s altar. It has subsequently been moved to its present position. It is 5 ft 6 inch high and is signed “Seamus Murphy 45”.

The famous Irish Poet Patrick Kavanagh attended the dedication ceremony and wrote at the time: “Before entering the church after the dedication, an old fellow spoke to me; ‘Do you see that iron railing there? That was made in Cork and they say we can do nothing in Cork!’ I looked admiringly at the railing. ‘And do you see that door there? That was made in Cork! And they say we can make nothing in Cork!’ Then he walked off in disgust at the ignorance of non-Corkonians”.