The Dublin City Churches of The Church of Ireland.



VERY much the most interesting institutional chapel in Dublin is that of the ROTUNDA HOSPITAL, reached by the main stairs inside the central entrance. The Hospital was begun in 1750, the architect being Richard Cassels; but the decoration of the Chapel did not begin till 1755. The superb Baroque plasterwork was executed by Barthelemi Cramillion, and is his only surviving work in Ireland. It is quite without parallel elsewhere in Dublin. The remaining fittings of the Chapel (except the organ) are all original, and make this unique among Dublin church interiors. Part of the old organ is now incorporated in that of St Stephen's, Mount Street.

Of earlier date is the Chapel of the ROYAL HOSPITAL, KILMA1NHAM (now disused as a chapel). This is a very large room, with a magnificent ceiling. It was originally executed in white plaster, but being irreparably decayed was renewed (undetectably) in papier mache in 1902-3. The artist is unknown, but the ceiling was finished in 1686. Just as the building itself, designed by Sir William Robinson, has been mistakenly attributed to Wren, so the fine wood-carving in the Chapel has been credited to Grinling Gibbons. It was in fact the work of James Tabary, a Frenchman resident in Dublin. The great E window of the Chapel embodies some of the tracery of the old Hospital of the Knights of St John of Jerusalem (Hospitallers). In the upper part of the window is some ancient glass, but that in the lower part was presented by Queen Victoria. The Chapel also has very fine wrought-iron gates. The Royal Hospital may be seen by making application to the Chief Commissioner of Garda Siochana, Headquarters, Phoenix Park.

The Chapel of TRINITY COLLEGE was built in 1789, perhaps from rough designs by Sir William Chambers, but certainly executed by Meyers. It is a good example of a Georgian collegiate chapel, having the stalls arranged college-wise, facing each other across the aisle. Unfortunately, the chapel is at present floored with encaustic tiles, instead of the original black-and-whites as at St Werburgh's.

The Chapel of the KING'S HOSPITAL or Blue-Coat School, in Blackhall Place, occupies the northern wing of that building, which was designed by Thomas Ivory, and built in 1777. It is, internally, very handsome in a cool and severe manner, and of considerable size. At the E end hangs a large painting of the Resurrection, by Vincent Waldre, decorator of the State Apartments in Dublin Castle.

THE FEMALE ORPHAN-HOUSE (Kirwan House), on the North Circular Road, has an interesting Chapel designed by Francis Johnston, and built in 1818-19. It closely resembles the same architects Chapel Royal in Dublin Castle (built 1807-14 and reconsecrated as a Roman Catholic Church in 1945), except that the Kirwan House Chapel is somewhat less elaborate. It is in Johnston's very individual gothic manner, and is executed in plaster and carved oak. The Sunday morning services are open to the general public, and an interesting feature is the appearance of the child ren in their traditional costume. The Chapel of the South Dublin Union (by the same architect and also now in use as a Roman Catholic chapel) is similar in style. The old organ of the Chapel Royal, which was not considered large enough, is now in Enniscorthy Parish Church.

Other institutions in Dublin have Church of Ireland chapels, notably St Mobhi's College, formerly the Royal Hibernian Military School, designed by Francis Johnston, of which the Chapel was recently re-dedicated by the Lord Primate, and the Magdalen Asylum, Lower Leeson Street, founded in 1765. The Chapel here is galleried and of early XIXth century appearance, not unlike the neighbouring St Matthias. The present front to the street was added in Victorian times.

Of the Chapels-of-ease in the City area, the most interesting is St Mary's Chapel-of-ease (commonly known as the "Black Church"), in St Mary's Place, off Dorset Street, opposite the NW corner of Parnell Square. The church was built in 1830, the architect being John Semple, whose own brand of Gothic Revival was a style in itself. The external effect, with the blunted finials grouping round the slender spire, the geometric recessed doorways, and above all the bold simplicity of the rhythmical buttresses, is very memorable. The church gains, too, from being built in the local calp-stone. Internally the main feature is a remarkable parabolic vault, which is of solid masonry laid in flat courses almost to the top, when it becomes a true vault, with the roof resting directly upon it. It was shut for many years before being re-opened in 1894.

The Free Church, Great Charles Street, is now part of the parochial organisation of St George's, but was originally extra-parochial, and the seats were free. It was built originally as a Methodist Church, and was bought by the Church of Ireland and consecrated in 1828. It is a plain classic building well situated at the head of Rutland Steet Upper. The E window, Venetian in form, has been blocked up. There is a high two-decker pulpit similar in style to the gallery woodwork. The original list of subscribers hangs in the vestry.

Trinity Church, Lower Gardiner Street (now an Employment Exchange), the Bethesda Chapel, Dorset Street (now a cinema, secularised in 1908), the Episcopal Chapel, in Upper Baggot Street (converted in 1947 to a factory, and for long before used as a church hall, though a parish church in the XIXth century), the Molyneux Chapel, in Bride Street (where Bernard Shaw went to church as a child, and recently adapted as Messrs Jacob's Recreation Hall), and the Mariners' Church, in Forbes Street (now embedded in the Gas Works) are among the other extra-parochial churches of which some trace still remains. They are all of XVIIIth or XIXth century foundation. During the XVIIIth and early XIXth centuries there existed "The Floating Chapel," a ship which was kept moored at Ringsend and used for services. There is a slide depicting this in the collection of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland.


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