Dalkey is a medieval town and is recognised on maps from at least 1600. It served for some time as a port for Dublin.
In the beginning of the 19th century the Catholic population of Dalkey increased due to the quarrymen who worked in Dalkey quarries providing granite to build the pier at Dun Laoghaire. The establishment of the Dublin to Kingstown (Dun Laoghire) Railway in 1834 brought more people to the town.
In 1840 it was decided, at the request of Canon Sheridan and the community of Dalkey, that a Catholic Church should be erected on a site opposite St. Begnet’s Church (10th century). The church was built on land leased from Mr. Thomas Connolly and was dedicated on 26th September 1841. It was a simple Gothic Revival structure. It consisted of the present nave, the altar where the gallery is today and the main door 30’ back from Castle Street. The walls were pebbles, mortar and earth coated in plaster. In the 1880s Fr. George Harrold decided to extend the Church out to Castle Street and relocate the sanctuary and the font. Cut granite was used to build the new transepts and sanctuary and a bell tower was added. The roof was raised; a fan-vaulted ceiling was installed and a gallery was constructed. A two-manual organ, built by organ builder James White, was installed. The Church was further renovated in 1991 to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the dedication. The porches and sacristy were reordered at this time.
On the death of Canon Sheridan, P.P. Kingstown in 1862 the parish was divided into Kingstown/Monkstown and Glasthule/Dalkey /Ballybrack with Fr John Harold (1862- 1868) as Parish Priest of the latter. His brother Fr George Harold later served as Parish Priest (1880 -1894).
In1927 Dalkey was separated from Glasthule and made a parish in its own right.
The 150th anniversary was marked with a week of celebration culminating with a Jubilee Mass on 26th September 1991, followed by a reception in the Cuala Centre. Fr. Desmond Forristal, was Parish Priest at the time.
Since 2010, Dalkey parish is part of a cluster with Glasthule, Sallynoggin and Dun Laoghaire, all in the Dun Laoghaire Deanery of the Archdiocese of Dublin.
The 175th anniversary of the dedication of the Church was celebrated with a Mass of Thanksgiving on 26th September 2016. Mass was concelebrated by the Archbishop of Dublin, Most Rev. Dr. Diarmuid Martin with Fr. Paddy Devitt and Fr. Declan Gallagher. Music was provided by St. Begnet’s Quartet, the Adult Choir, the Gospel Choir, the Children’s Choir and the Taize Group. Mass was followed by a reception in the Heritage Centre.
There is a representation of the Last Supper in marble relief on the front of the altar. Two angels by Mayer of Munich flank the reredos. Side shrines with statues of Our Lady and the Sacred Heart in white marble are dated 1897. Marble panels in the sanctuary were added in 1932.
The stained-glass windows over the altar are of French origin. The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, the patron of the parish is in the centre. St Patrick and St Brigid, the patrons of Ireland are to left and right. These were restored by Abbey Stained Glass of Kilmainham in 1991 to coincide with the 150th anniversary. The plaster Stations of the Cross were also restored at this time by Sean McDonnell. He sculpted the timber relief of Cardinal Newman (1801-1890) who spent the autumn of 1854 living in Dalkey while establishing the Catholic University in Dublin.
Icon of St. Begnet
The Icon of the Lady Abbot, St. Begnet, written by artist and iconographer Colette Clarke, was installed in 2010 and was sponsored by parishioners Finbar and Maeve Breathnach. It hangs on the wall of the baptistry. The icon was commissioned by Fr John McDonagh to mark the Feast of St. Begnet who is the patron saint of Dalkey. Begnet,or Becnat belongs to that rank of early Irish Saints about whom we know very little of their personal lives, but whose cults have survived to the present day. She is recorded in the eleventh-century genealogies of Irish saints as Becnat daughter of Colmán, son of Āed, possibly a member of the aristocratic family of Dál Messin Corb who ruled over north and central Leinster up to 700 A.D. Becnat’s feastday on 12th November, as recorded in the late medieval Book of Obits of Christ Church cathedral, comes two days before the feast day of St. Lawrence O’Toole on 14th November, the abbot of Glendalough and archbishop of Dublin who died in 1180.