Reply To: Dublin’s Churches

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John Callery


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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