Dublin's Churches

Dublin's Churches

Postby Pope Julius » Wed Sep 06, 2000 2:59 pm

Is'nt it a sad plight the condition of some of Dublin's neglected churches. I'm not religious in any way but it is a somewhat sorrowful sight to see the decline of some historical and beautful 'houses of god'. It's quite ironic to see the newly built 'Sacred Heart Church' within an appartment complex on Bachelor's Walk yet further down the quays the more imposing 19th century 'St. Pauls' lies derelict on Arran quay. St. Georges in Hardwick Place is a 70's disco venue and the church in Mary's Street where Wolfe Tone was baptized lies in a 'limbo' condition. So many other churches face an uncertain future too. Changing times.....but such buildings deserve more attention and respect not for religious reasons but architectural reasons.
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Postby MG » Wed Sep 06, 2000 4:20 pm

St Paul's is a pretty fine exterior although I've never been in it.

St Paul's CofI on Nth King Street while not a great church, suffers from its surroundings, in particular, those dire corpo flats on Blackhall Place

St Mary's is a disgrace, first a home decor store and now a proposal for a bar.

St George's is a sad case, first it has lost its urban setting and now turned into a venue.
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Postby EMcLoughlin » Thu Sep 07, 2000 1:33 am

St Paul's on Arran Quay, is a historically important church. Built in 1835, it was one of the first Catholic churches to be built on a main thoroughfare, after Catholic Emancipation in 1829. The design is based on a Greek tetrastyle temple; it has an unusual cupola overlooking the Quay. Eamon De Valera was married there. It is shocking to see the blankets, cardboard and rubbish left strewn in the portico by the homeless people who sleep there regularly, especially since the church itself is unused. Why not house them inside? This would maintain the dignity this church deserves, and put it back in to use for a worthy cause.
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Postby Tintoretto » Thu Sep 07, 2000 9:48 am

To add it also has a fine religious themed mural on the wall behind the altar.
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Postby Sartre » Fri Sep 08, 2000 10:19 am

There are so many beautiful churches throughout Dublin that are real architectural assets for the city. One strongly recommends a stroll through the city and view these now 'unfasionable' religious meeting houses.They are a real eye opener. St. Pauls on Arran Quay was one of the last churches to celebrate the old Latin mass.The stong smell of inscense, the choir singing and choral music had an aura of esoteric mysticism that evoked all sorts feelings in myself who is an atheist. What a sad loss for the city.
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Postby Alan » Tue Sep 12, 2000 1:32 pm

I just thought of the spire of St. Georges Church, Hardwicke Place, the scaffolding has been wrapped around it for many years now. Does anyone know what's the purpose/reason. I recently heard that the old bells of St. Georges, which were in storage since the early nineties, were installed in Taney Chruch, Dundrum.
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Postby Silken-Thomas » Thu Sep 14, 2000 9:26 am

Check out today's feature in the Irish Times on the once neglected but recently restored St. Catherines Church in Thomas Street, Dublin. See it featured too on the NTL community channel at night. Check out other notable churches in this locality; St.Johns down the road beside the NCAD with it's gothic spire and St.Nicholas of Myra in Francis street, (named after Santy to you and me). Another church to note is St. Andrews in Westland Row with it's fine classical interior. Some of the many valuable jewels of the city.
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Postby Jas » Sat Sep 16, 2000 1:56 pm

SS Augustine and John on Thomas Street is for my ,money, the best church building in the city, yes, even better that St George's on Hardwicke Place.

Its magnificent spire, polychomic stone and that soaring arch over the main doors and window, spectacular.
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Postby Pope Julius » Mon Sep 18, 2000 12:50 pm

I agree,(Re; Saints Augustine and John's) what a superb church but what a pity about the delapidated surroundings. Thomas Street needs a really good revamp.What tawdry shops! especially as this street has so many neglected assets. Same too with St George's Church, Hardwicke Place, another pity as is'nt it quite similar to 'St. Martin's in the Fields' in England.
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Postby F.Mansart » Tue Sep 19, 2000 9:50 am

When one considers the plethora of wonderful historic churches within Dublin city that face an uncertain future, everything must be done to save them from decline.......a basic way which might help, whether one beleives, or not..... Go to mass!
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Postby john white » Wed Sep 20, 2000 1:23 pm

Is there a good up to date book on Irish/Dublin Churches?

I've run out of interesting things to do at weekends in Ireland and have long wanted to explore its churches [the last refuge of a culture addict living in a cultural desert].

The Protestant Church in Monkstown is worth going into - architecturally not the greatest of quality and a terrible under-use of space but the style is fanciful, very unusual and exciting. Seems it was erected by former RAJ types - hence the Indian style. There's a service it seems, at 7.30pm.

So, any good books?
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Postby MG » Wed Sep 20, 2000 1:29 pm

Image

I actually think that it was just that Semple was fairly innovative - he also designed the Black Church now an architect's office
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Postby e mc loughlin » Wed Sep 20, 2000 8:59 pm

St. Augustine & St. John (St. John's Lane Church, locally), is one of the finest churches in the city centre. Designed by George Ashlin & Edward Welby Pugin, son of the famous Pugin. Ruskin described this neo-gothic gem as "a poem in stone". The statues of the apostles inside are by James Pearse, father of Padraig.
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Postby trace » Thu Sep 21, 2000 10:14 am

A new book on historic churches of Ulster (which includes churches on Liam McCormick) will be published at the end of next month.
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Postby john white » Fri Sep 22, 2000 2:47 pm

Thanks Trace!
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Postby trace » Fri Sep 22, 2000 5:03 pm

A pleasure, John.

There's also a 'blockbuster' exhibition (with catalogue) coming up, on places of worship in Ireland - since the time of St Patrick. Put together by the RIAI and RSUA and jointly sponsored by lottery/millennium agencies in both the UK and Ireland, I believe it opens sometime around the middle of next month at the Ulster Museum in Belfast, before travelling on to Armagh and Dublin (where it'll be on display in the OPW's atrium on St Stephen's Green).
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Postby whatever » Mon Oct 02, 2000 2:35 am

the scaffolding on st georges, hardwicke place, has been there at least since 1983, the spire is unstable. it was designed by the same architect as st martins in the fields
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Postby MG » Mon Oct 02, 2000 9:04 am

Thats a common misconception. St Georges qwas not designed by the same architect, merely copied the spire.
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Postby Alan » Thu Oct 05, 2000 1:51 pm

"Dublin's Churches" by John Costello, I think was published a bit over ten years ago. It covers many of Dublin's churches, both old and new. It's a bit difficult to find and it is out of press. I think the work of church architect John Semple is fascinating, especially the Black Church which inspired Austin Clarke to write the poem "Around The Black Church". I read recently that John Semple designed something like 14 churches around Dublin. I know of just a handful
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Postby RTLD » Sat Oct 28, 2000 4:37 am

Reading this is amazing. I am an architectural lighting designer 1/2 Irish 1/2 Belgium living in California. Is anyone out there intersted in perhaps illuminating the exterior of these buildings to call attention to there magnificance and architectural splendor?
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Postby wood quay » Tue Oct 31, 2000 10:25 pm

Has anybody noticed the condition of St Paul's on Arran Quay (see e mc loughlin above)? It's sad to see it in its present state: the portico strewn with rubbish; the doors covered in grafiti.
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Postby Paul Clerkin » Tue Oct 31, 2000 10:29 pm

Yes, I live in Smithfield and am saddened by its appearance, but it also seems be be very secure so I think it is purely the facade that is untidy, with the interior secure.
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Postby GregF » Wed Nov 01, 2000 10:55 am

I agree totally. I have mentioned under various nom de plumes before it's condition. It now lies idle and derelict, it's portico serving as a shelter for the homeless, that has become a cesspit; it's dooors scrawled with graffiti. Does it have to follow the same fate as St. Catherine's in Thomas Street before it's saved from oblivion. St. Pauls used to serve a Latin mass and it was quite a religious experience even though I am myself an athiest. It is indeed a sad loss for the city. It contains too at it's altar wall backdrop a very fine mural.
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Postby MG » Thu Feb 22, 2001 11:16 am

St Pauls has had ugly galvanised steel gates inserted into its portico to keep the homeless out. Visually destructive. AT least please paint them black.
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Postby John Callery » Thu Mar 01, 2001 4:38 pm

YES, THIS REALLY HAPPENED (NOT THAT LONG AGO).

THE BATTLE FOR ST. JUDE’S
By Tony Byrne. July 1990.

Coming up the new motorway from Chapelizod one of the first striking features against the skyline is the Spire of St. Jude’s. When I saw it the other evening it brought me back to the events of a few years ago surrounding the sale and demolition of the beautiful little church which once stood beside the spire. A very eventual time indeed ! The meetings, the picketing, the court cases, the injunctions, the whole campaign came flooding back in my mind.

For nearly six months a small group of people kept at bay the demolition crew and their employer, Robert Guinness. John and Kay Swords, Anthony Brady, Noleen Day,
Derek Noyes, Michael Shortt, Catherine Brady, Evanna O’Boyle, Nuala Hayes, Maureen McGowan, Michael Conaghan. I’m sure I’ve left out names especially the countless people who just dropped by to encourage us and wish us luck.

I’ll always remember the second court case when the Gardai were at the back of the court ready to take Derek Noyes and Michael Conaghan off and at the last moment the judge put it back for a week and the young guard said to me “that was a close one”

Although the battle was 50% lost it was still worth it. St. Jude’s was an important building. Inchicore, in its modern phase grew out of the coming of the Railways to the area and the church was an integral part of that important development. As such it was a tangible reminder of our past. It was also a significant local landmark and helped extend character and colour to the areas landscape. There is nothing more dull or monotonous than total uniformity in size and shape of buildings in an area. We need variety of shapes, colours, building materials, provided of course there is also present good design and taste.

St. Jude’s had all of these. It had character. It had good design. It had been well cared for. At one time it meant everything to a section of our people. It represented and expressed their deepest religious beliefs and feelings. It was living memorial to all the people who came into the area to work on the Railways. It should have remained as such – a living memorial.

You don’t have to be a genius to work out how it could how it could have easily have been adapted for some other use without loosing it’s dignity. This is what is happening now. Buildings are been adapted if they happen to outlive their original purpose. Imagine the architectural wasteland we would if we just pulled down buildings because their original purpose was superseded by the passing of time! That approach is the mark of the barbarian or the developer! I think it may be some time again before a “developer” or the Corporation (City authorities) take it upon themselves to knock down a church in Dublin. This is the real victory for the St. Jude’s campaign.


The spire remains standing and it is widely valued as a landmark. Space remains at the base of it and I understand the Heritage Group has planned to construct a small museum or heritage centre there if money was provided. They have spent their existing funds securing the site and putting in the foundations for this small building. It’s the least Dublin Corporation could do now: assist in having this project completed. That would be a fitting testimonial to next year “1991 – Dublin Cultural capital of Europe”.
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