|Church decoration in Allen|
The church still contains a complete decorative scheme in the sanctuary area and, according to Mary McGrath, conservator of fine art, Rosetown Lodge, Newbridge, this is the original decorative scheme dating back to 1868-1870, when the church was built. Intact, original decoration is now quite rare as a result of redecoration over the past 150 years and the changes in the liturgy after Vatican II. This painted decoration is, consequently, significant in a historical context. It is of a very high quality, detailed, complex and carefully designed to enhance the architectural features of the sanctuary, chancel arch and side altars.
The figure of the Holy Trinity, wearing a three-crown mitre
Decorative schemes were individually tailored for a specific churches, although some design motifs were employed over and over again. The church in Allen has a polygonal apse which required a considerable amount of planning to decorate.
A highly-worked stencil decoration of St Brigid, in the sanctuary
Stencil decoration was much favoured in the 19th and early 20th century for church decoration. Augustus Welby Pugin (1812-52), an outstanding architect and a convert to Catholicism, formulated a series of designs and colours considered appropriate for church interiors.
Furthermore, a book called the Grammar of Ornament, published in 1856 by Owen Jones, formally outlined what parts of a church should be decorated, and how and why. The basic rule is that decoration should not be used for itself alone – its function is to enhance architectural features.