Our Church

History and construction

Historical Scrapbook

Features and pictures

Stained Glass

Special Acknowledgement - The parish of Monkstown is deeply indebted to Mr Gerard Hyland of The Pugin Society for his help in compiling this historical note.
Foundation Stone
In 1829, a week before Catholic Emancipation, the parish of Kingstown was constituted, with Canon Bartholomew Sheridan (Editors note:-incorrectly listed as "Sheehan" in the 1966 booklet "Monkstown: The Story of a Parish) as it's first parish priest.  His parish stretched over a wide area including Monkstown, Dalkey, Killiney, Glasthule.  He was a great church-builder.  St Patrick's, Monkstown was the last of 5 churches commissioned by him in 1861.  The foundation stone was laid on June 29th 1861. The site had earlier been purchased from the James Doherty, Solicitor, of Broomwood, Monkstown.  Canon Sheridan’s intention was to build a replica of Dalkey church, which he himself had commissioned some years previously.  But he died before much progress had been made.  The following is an extract from The Tablet July 6th 1861. (A scan of the original can be seen here).

The Tablet, Saturday July 6th 1861


The first stone of the new catholic church which is proposed to be built at Monkstown was laid on Saturday, the Feast of SS. Peter and Paul, by his Grace the Archbishop of Dublin, at Broomwood, in the presence of a large number of Clergy, and a very numerous assemblage of the inhabitants of the town and neighbourhood.  The churches which Canon Sheridan can point to as having been erected by him within the period mentioned are-- St Michael's Church in Kingstown; the Church of the Assumption in Dalkey; the Church of St. Alphonsus in Ballybrack, which is a really beautiful structure; the Church of St. Peter in Little Bray; the Church of St Bridget in Cabinteely, and all of the churches are furnished with organs.  The erection of the church in Ballybrack cost him 3,000£, and, ------ied in the good work, he has in contemplation the erection of a church in Glasthule.  It has been the custom for many years of Canon Sheridan to lay by each year a sum of money to meet the expense of erecting churches.  Within the last thirty years he has expended 7,000£ of his own money in this manner.

Shortly before three o' clock a procession was formed, and his Grace the Archbishop was conducted to the ground where preparations had been made for the laying of the stone.  Among the clergymen who participated in the edifying proceedings of the day were were the Most Rev. Dr Hynes, the Very Rev. Canon Sheridan, P.P. Kingstown, Very Rev. Monsignor Y---, Very Rev. Dr. Lee, P.P. Bray; Rev Mr Kavanagh, C.C. Kingstown; Rev P. McCabe, C.C. ditto; Rev J Leahy, C.C. ditto; Rev. B Sheridan jnr, --- C.C. ditto; Rev J Harold, C.C. Little Bray; Rev J Flanagan, C.C. Cabinteely; Rev. F O Donnell, C.C. Dalkey; Rev John O'Rorke, Chaplain of St Mary's Convent; Rev. Mr. Crone, Chaplain of St Patrick's Convent, O------; Rev Mr O'Reilly, Maynooth College; Rev. Mr. Rogers, Seminary, Clonliffe &c., &c.  The masters of ceremonies on the occasion were the Rev. Mr McCabe and the Rev. B Sheridan jnr. and the Revs B Harold and J Cavanagh were choiristors.

His Grace the Archbishop having laid the first stone of the future church of St. Patrick, addressed the large number of persons who witnessed the ceremony and gave the ----- episcopal benediction to the assembled multitude.

The architect of the new church is Mr P Byrne.  The architecture will be purely Gothic, and it is expected that the sacred ediface will be erected by next St Patrick's Day. It will be 120 feet long, the transcept 70 feet and the nave 42 feet.  The Rev. Canon Sheridan, P.P has given a subscription of 100£ towards the erection of the building; Very Rev Monsignor Y--- 50£ and Thomas Carey, Esq., of Sussex-place, Kingstown, 50£.

After the ceremony the Very Rev. Canon Sheridan entertained His Grace the Archbishop and several of the local clergy at Lodge Park, Kingstown.

The new PP Canon James Cavanagh, considered such a design obsolete and unsuited to the locality.  He commissioned George Coppinger Ashlin (1837 – 1921) and Edward Welby Pugin (1834–1875) to draw up a new design. 
By late 1863 things had progressed to the point where the London-based magazine "Builder" on 28th Nov was able to report that "at Monkstown, city Dublin, a new Roman Catholic church is about to be erected.  The building will be in the Early Geometric style, and will accommodate about 1,500 persons.  A tower and spire will stand at the south aisle, and will rise to the height of 160 feet, forming a prominent feature of the building seen from the sea.  The west gable will be pierced by a circular wheel window, under which will be two canopied doorways.  There will be a colossal figure of the patron saint, St Patrick, supported on an Aberdeen granite column rising from between these doorways.  At the extremity of the aisle will stand the baptistery, forming a western transept.  In the interior, a new feature has been introduced in the clerestory, which will be formed by an arcade of detached shafts and arches.  The chancel will be separated from the nave by an arch supported on marble columns and will be lighted by seven lofty two-light windows, in which will be represented, in stained glass, the figures of our Lord and the twelve Apostles.  The cost, including spire, will be about £7,000.  The designs are by Messrs Pugin & Ashlin, of Dublin"
(Editors note:- There was a convention of naming the altar end  of a church as the east end, regardless of its actual orientation. (1) the "west gable" referred to is actually on the north-east end of the church (2) the tower and spire is on the northmost corner. The stained glass windows actually installed do not depict our Lord and the twelve Apostles. )
The Architects
E. W. Pugin was the son of Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin, and a member of the most distinguished family of architects of the time.  The older Pugin had designed many churches and cathedrals, and is best remembered for his design of the Houses of Parliament at Westminster, and in Ireland for his designs of St Patricks College, Maynooth, and for Enniscorthy and Killarney cathedrals.  E. W. Pugin was responsible in whole or in partnership for over 100 Catholic churches in Ireland and England.
George Ashlin was the partner in the Pugin firm with responsibility for Irish work.  He married Mary Pugin, a sister of E.W.Pugin.  Together, the Pugin/Ashlin partnership, which had offices at 90 St Stephens Green was responsible for about 22 Irish churches and some other buildings.  Monkstown readers will be familiar with Glasthule and Donnybrook churches, both of which are Pugin/Ashlin designs and have many features similar to St Patricks.
Contract for construction
On December 30th 1863, a contract was signed with Michael Meade, Builder, of Great Brunswick St, Dublin for the construction of the church.  The agreed price was £5,450, excluding the spire, and the work was scheduled for completion in one and a half years.
In 1865, Canon Cavanagh died before seeing the results of his commission.  He was replaced by Monsignor Edward McCabe, P.P., (later to become Cardinal Archbishop of Dublin)
Some months later, on 1st December 1865, the Dublin Builder reported that "this church which is at present in the course of erection, is in the French Pointed style.  Exclusive of sacristies &c., it is 180ft in length by 60ft in width.  The principal view of the building obtained from the Dublin Road is the western front, which has been made as effective as possible on this account.  The tower, which stands at the S.W. angle, has been somewhat detached from the nave wall to give greater width.  The baptistery occupies the opposite angle, and has an aspidal termination projecting from the lines of the aisle walls.  The entire breadth of this front is nearly 80 feet.  There are two doorways in the the west gable, between which will stand a statue of the patron saint.  These are surrounded by an arcade of five arches, supported on Aberdeen Granite columns over which is the rose window.  The whole is enclosed by a lofty arch rising from the ground.  The clerestory are arranged internally in the form of a continuous arcade resting on red sandstone columns.  The other internal features will be sufficiently explained by the accompanying view."
The "accompanying view", which can be seen here is a drawing by Pugin and Ashlin of the church interior, with no seats in place.  There are slight differences from the finished church as it is now.  In particular, the drawing shows decorated panels on the ceiling.  Whether these were put in place and have been painted over is not known.  There are, of course, modern modifications to the altar area and altar rails as well as the removal of the pulpit, all dating from the post-Vatican II period.
Although the actual construction took over two and a half years, it would appear even by modern standards to have been a very rapid construction.  The table below shows that materials had to be brought in from a variety of locations within Ireland and from various places abroad. There were very limited mechanical aids available to assist in the construction.
Dedication and opening
On 8th September of 1866, with some unfinished items still outstanding, the dedication and opening was announced in the Freeman's Journal:-
will dedicate the new church of St Patrick, Monkstown
On Sunday September 16th 1866.
Tickets of Admission:

Large Pink Family Ticket, to admit Three to Upper Part of Nave

£1   5   0

Small Pink Ticket, to admit One    0  10  0
Large Yellow Family Ticket, to admit Three to Upper part of either Aisle    1   0   0
Small Yellow Ticket, to admit one    0   7   6
Small Blue Ticket, to admit one to Lower Part of Nave    0   5   0
Small White Ticket, to Admit One to Lower Part of either Aisle    0   2   6
   Tickets can be had in KINGSTOWN at Miss Benson's, Upper Georges Street; in Dublin at Messrs Lesage, Sackville-street; Messrs Dollard's, 9 Dame street; and at Mr Duffy's, Welling ton Quay.
   The function will commence at 11 o'Clock
   Mr Hamilton Croft, the Musical Director, has been preparing a large Choir, consisting of a full instrumental band and efficient Chorus, numbering between Fifty and Sixty.
The Music to be performed on the occasion is
And at the Benediction of the Most Holy Sacrament
   All the celebrated Amatuers of Dublin and Kingstown have kindly promised their assistance to the distinguished professional performers Mr Hamilton Croft has engaged.


One week later, on Sept 15th 1866, on the eve of the dedication, the Freeman's Journal reported with typical Victorian style:-

On to-morrow his Eminence the Cardinal Arch-bishop of Dublin will dedicate the above-named exquisite new church to the service of God.  The ceremonials will be of the most solemn and impressive character, and the sacred music will be performed by vocalists including the most distinguished in the city, a chorus numbering fifty voices, and a full orchestral band, under the conductorship of Mr. Hamilton Croft.  The collections and the means acquired by the sale of tickets will go to liquidate the heavy debt incurred by the Very Rev. Monsignor McCabe, V.G., the venerated pastor who earnestly solicits the kind and generous co-operation of his fellow citizens in the accomplishment of the great work which he has undertaken to accomplish.

The dedication was performed by Paul Cardinal Cullen.  There was a temporary altar and a temporary pulpit, and the spire was half-finished.

Fr James Leahy was moved from Kingstown to Monkstown as the first resident curate.

The spire was completed about 1881, under the supervision of John Loftus Robinson, using funds donated by a parishioner, Patrick Madden.

The Parochial House, adjacent to St Patrick's was built in 1892 as a curates house.

The assistance of Gerard Hyland of The Pugin Society is acknowledged.



Features and Pictures

The Building

The body of the church is rectangular, rather than cruciform, with side aisles forming buttresses to the arches of the nave.  The aisles are also buttressed. The buttresses can be seen on the outer walls (left)


The church measurements (Internal, excluding spire) as per original plans -133 ft long x 51ft 2inches wide (40.54 metres x 15.60 metres. A polygonal apse forms a raised chancel at the South-west end.

Inside, the ceiling is dark blue, while the walls are light beige. 


The main features of the interior are white, but there are elements of red, white, and black marble.


Externally, the walls are finished in rusticated Granite, relieved with chiselled limestone and faced with Bath Stone. The roof is slated.


The church is aligned north-north-east/south-south-west with the entrance on the north-north-east end. On this end the main feature is the rose window. Below this window are elaborately carved mullions of Caen stone and an arcade of niches of Aberdeen Granite with a background of green porphyry.  Over the centre, the statue of St Patrick stands on a shaft of black polished marble.

The Chancel

In the chancel area, (area around the main altar) the chancel arch is supported by shafts of red Cork marble; the capitals and the arch itself are of Caen stone, carved by Thomas Early of Dublin

Arches and Pillars

The arches on either side of the nave are of stone set on shafts of Mitchelstown brown porphyry with circular bases of white-veined Italian marble and sub-bases of black Ennis marble.  The capitals of these brown pillars are carved by Thomas Early and Co to represent various forms of vegitation and fruits.  For many years, these capitals have been painted white and almost fade into the background.  An older photo from the 1920s held in the National Library shows the capitals unpainted as granite, and much more prominent as a result.



Stained Glass

All stained glass windows are from the studios of Michael O Connor of London.  For much more detail and images of the stained glass, click here

The Altar

The altar table is white and shows three scenes from the Old testament in relief, each set in an alcove and separated by green marble columns.  The overall style is in keeping with the Stations of the Cross

Church decorators Earley & Powell were paid £96 on 1 Dec 1866 for altars & carving (chancel arch & capitals)Ref Clonliffe College Archive, p23/2,p23/9

Side altar and statue of Virgin were provided by Farrell & Sons of Glasnevin .Refs:Payments, Sep 1868-Mar 1869 recorded in Father McCabe's accounts, Clonliffe College Archive, MS p23/2

Payments were made to the firm of Ashlin & Coleman for porch & mortuary altar & rails, 1910 (£120) and for completeing facade, 1912 (£180) Refs: Clonliffe College Archive, MS p1/2

Statues and stations

The rule at St Patrick's seems to be that you can have any colour provided that it is white - unless you are St Anthony (who is in full colour).  The 14 Stations of the Cross are in white relief mounted directly on the church walls.

The Organ

The builder of this organ is unknown, but Derek Verso (who restored the organ) surmises that it might have been John White, or possibly John White bought it from a French builder (Calaillé-Coll?). The action is mechanical throughout; the manuals each have 56 notes and the pedal 30.

For fuller details click here


Steeple and bell

The steeple was partly (about two-thirds) completed at the date when the church was opened.  It was finally completed many years later as a separate contract. 

In a book of poems by John Gunn, published 1890 entitled "A casket of Irish pearls, subjects in prose and verse, relating chiefly to Ireland" the text opposite appears on Page 34 and refers to our bell.

The mountings of the bell have been recently refurbished and the striking mechanism has been automated in 2010