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Interview

Denis W. Martin SJ

The start of an interest in the Holy Name Cathedral site…

A Hill in the Valley: Dara and the Holy Name Cathedral, relates how Archbishop James Duhig, who died in 1965, had his name on many church foundation stones, but couldn’t finish his dream project, the Holy Name Cathedral. Around 1950, about the time when the architect Jack Hennessy was suing Duhig for unpaid fees, the archbishop was seen in his residence, Wynberg, burning the plans for his dream cathedral.
The author is an archivist for the Brisbane Catholic archdiocese. He has also written other well researched books like The Foundation of the Catholic Church in Queensland; and Cyclists, Doctors and Others: The introduction of the Motor Car to Queensland.

READERSVOICE.COM: What got you interested in the story of the Holy Name Cathedral?

DENIS W. MARTIN SJ: All through my younger days in Brisbane, I frequently passed this untidy and neglected site near the Valley. Dad would narrate how Archbishop Duhig intended to build a great Cathedral there and Mum would add that, as a pupil at All Hallows, she was present at the foundation stone ceremony. Others asked, “Why was it never built?”; ”Will work ever resume?”; “Did the Archbishop mis-manage the money?” etc. I always wondered what was on the site in earlier times.

RV: Are there any parts of the story about which you wish you had more information?

DM: More information about the very early and decrepit old “Dara” built 1849-50 would have been of interest. Bishop Quinn obviously had money so why did he let it decay to the point where it caused him health problems and later caused Bishop Dunne to also fall ill? Perhaps it was what is known as “the rising damp” problem in old buildings in our climate.

RV: Are there any surviving architectural plans of the Holy Name Cathedral?

DM: Yes, some very fine architectural plans of the HNC have survived. There are the overall plans (how it would look), but none of the detailed plans which the builder would need seem to have survived.

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