No. 227 - Sacred Heart at Ringarooma - "The Indomitable Mrs Singline"

Sacred Heart at Ringarooma replaced an earlier Catholic church that was destroyed in a fire in 1890. The original church, known as St Martin's, opened on the 18th of December 1882. An account of this event is recorded in the Launceston Examiner:

“The Roman Catholic Church at Ringarooma, dedicated to St Martin, was used…for the first time, mass having been periodically celebrated in a private house adjoining. Though the day was wet the congregation was numerous, being far larger than had been anticipated, and Father Mary, the widely respected priest, expressed the hope of a still larger attendance being present when the discharge of the duties of his extensive district permits him again to celebrate mass and address that portion of the flock residing here. The site of St Martin’s is about one mile from the Post Office, and was presented as a gift, by Mr P. Doherty. The building is small but neat and comfortable looking and will be still better suited for its sacred purpose when provided with an altar, seats, etc., towards procuring which, as they have already done in the matter of the building…”.

St Martin’s was dedicated by Bishop Daniel Murphy in February 1884.

In November 1890, only eight years after opening, the church was completely destroyed in a fire. The Colonist reported that:

“There has not been any enquiry as to the burning of the Roman Catholic Church. The building having been used for the last four years for school purposes, it is supposed that the fire originated from a stove, which had been in almost constant use during the winter”.

Following the fire, Catholic services were occasionally held in the Ringarooma Police Court building until a new church could be built. A notice for tenders for construction was advertised in December 1903. Progress on the building work was reported by the Daily Telegraph in February 1904:

“Despite the unfavourable weather, Mr E. Johnson, the contactor for the new Roman Catholic church building is making good progress with his work. The building is being constructed on the Gothic pattern and the size of the main building will be 37ft x 18ft; chancel 14ft x 12ft; vestry, 10ft x 13ft; porch, 8ft x 9ft, walls 11ft high. The roofing will be of iron. The doors will be on the double-folding principle. The structure will cost, when completed, about £200. Great credit is due to Mrs Singline, the hon. Secretary of building committee for the amount of hard work she has done in her endeavour to establish the church here. In fact one would be correct in saying that the erection of the building would probably have been deferred for an indefinite time but for the indomitable energy of the lady named”.

In May 1904 The Daily Telegraph reported that the building had been completed:

“The new church belonging to the Roman Catholic denomination has just been completed, and it is a neat and pleasing little edifice. The site upon which the church stands was generously presented by Mr Chris Krushka, and the funds for the erection of the building were raised by donations and the proceeds of bazaars….”

The Right Rev. Monsignor Beechinor performed the opening Mass and the consecration of Sacred Heart Church in July 1904.

In 1997, the church was listed by the Tasmanian Heritage Council and was subsequently restored although its original bell tower, which was removed for safety concerns, has not been replaced. The church, now in its 114th year, continues to serve Ringarooma and is now the only church of the town’s four original churches, that remains open for religious services.

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

 Examiner  Thursday 3 December 1903  Page 1 

An undated and unsourced early photograph of the church still with its bell tower


The Examiner Friday 8 July 1881, page 3

The Examiner Thursday 28 December1882, page 2
The Mercury Monday 18 February 1884, page 3
The Colonist Saturday 8 November 1890, page 20
The Mercury 24 June 1903 page 6
The Examiner Monday 7 December 1903 page 7
The Daily Telegraph Wednesday 14 February 1904, page 6
The Daily Telegraph Friday 13 May 1904 page 4
The Examiner Saturday 16 July 1904, page 7

Fairburn, Margaret E and McKay, John T. (Father) The flickering flame : Catholicism in north-east Tasmania, 1877-2011. Father John McKay, Tasmania, 2011.


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