Dalkey Parish

Parish Church

Our Past: Dalkey seems to be one of only a small number of rural Scandinavian settlements recorded in the country.As subsequently the port of Dublin, Dalkey is often of particular interest to researchers. The medieval town appears to have been defended by a bank and ditch at least since the 15th century . The township is recognised on maps from at least 1600.

Our Catholic Church was  dedicated on 26th September  1841. It is a simple Gothic Revival structure in local granite and render with square bell tower. It is on Castle Street opposite the  10th century church of St Begnet, a woman and abbot, to whom the church on Dalkey Island is also dedicated.

After St Begnet’s fell into disuse, Loughlinstown, with a chapel at Cabinteely, was the main parish for Roman Catholics nearby. By the beginning of the 19th century the Catholic population of  Dalkey increased due to quarrymen and workmen providing granite for the  pier at Dun Laoghaire. The Dublin to Kingstown Railway in 1834 brought more worshippers.  Canon Sheridan, Parish Priest of Kingstown (Dun Laoghaire), called a meeting of Dalkey residents in March 1840 following which a church in Dalkey was erected. Land opposite St Begnet’s was leased from Mr Thomas Connolly. Later his son, Canon Connolly, P.P. Harrington Street, donated the site to the Church, which  consisted only of the present nave;  the altar  where the gallery is today and the main door  30’ back from Castle Street.  The  humble walls were pebbles, mortar and earth, coated in plaster.

As Dalkey grew, Fr George Harold in the 1880s decided to extend the Church out to Castle Street and relocate  the sanctuary to the front.  Newly prosperous, we used cut granite to build the new transepts and sanctuary, and added a handsome bell tower. The roof was raised, and a  fan-vaulted ceiling were installed.  A gallery was constructed with a two-manual organ by Dublin organ-builder, John White.

The Last Supper in marble relief on the front of the altar is much loved. 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.

Over the altar are stained-glass windows 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 flank her to left and right. These were restored by Abbey Stained Glass of Kilmainham in 1991 to coincide with the renovation of the Church and the celebration of the 150th anniversary of its dedication.

Also in 1991 the plaster Stations of the Cross  were restored to their original  colour  in 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.

When the church was renovated in 1991 for the 150th anniversary, the porches and sacristy were re-ordered.

The 150th anniversary was marked with a week of celebration culminating with a Jubilee Mass on 26th September followed by a reception in the Cuala Centre. Fr. Desmond Forristal, Parish Priest wrote an article for the parish newsletter thanking all those who had contributed to the celebration either by helping with the planning and organising of the events or by contributing food, flowers, plants, shrubs and transport. He also thanked those who attended the Jubilee Mass including the Archbishop, the priests, the Cathaoirleach, the representatives of other churches, the Sisters from Loreto and Bulloch Harbour and most of all the parishioners of Dalkey.

The 175th anniversary of the dedication of the Church was celebrated with a Mass of Thanksgiving on 26th September 2016. Mass was concelebrated with the Archbishop of Dublin, Most Rev. Dr. Diarmuid Martin by 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. The Mass was attended by Priests from the cluster parishes; Priests who served in the parish; who had lived in the parish or who had a connection to the parish; by Rev. Bruce Hayes and Rev. Kevin Conroy from St. Patrick’s Church of Ireland and Rev. Ben Neill and Mrs. Neil; by the Loreto Sisters and Sisters from Our Lady’s Manor and approximately 400 parishioners. Mass was followed by a reception in the Heritage Centre.

 

Icon of St. Begnet

The Icon of the Lady Abbot, our own Dalkey saint, St. Begnet, written by artist and iconographer Colette Clarke, was installed in 2010 was sponsored by parishioners Finbar and Maeve Breathnach and 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, patron of Dalkey 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. When they lost control of these territories, their rule was confined to the Wicklow Mountains but they maintained control of some of the most important ecclesiastical offices in Leinster due to the fact that St. Kevin ( Cóemgen) of Glendalough was also a member of the Dál Messin Corb. Becnat, and her churches in Dalkey and Dalkey Island, belonged to the familia Coemgeni ‘the family of Cóemgen and her churches were ultimately under the protection of the great monastery of Glendalough. Becnat’s feastday on 12th November, as recorded in the late medieval Book of Obits of Christ Church cathedral, comes two days before the feastday of St. Lawrence O’Toole ( Lorcán Ua Túathail) on 14th November, the abbot of Glendalough and archbishop of Dublin who died in 1180.

The Icon of St. Begnet was written by Collette Clark, Iconographer Artist who carried out the necessary research and reading about St. Begnet and the 7th century period in which she lived and then commenced the writing of the icon.

This consisted of selecting the final image of St. Begnet as a young woman of noble birth, Celtic looks with head covered. The head covering was fastened with a brooch modelled on the Killarney Brooch (c. AD 800). The garment colours come from the image of Our Lady in the Book of Kells. The neck decoration from the Book of Dunna, the pattern for the inner garment also from the Book of Kells. The bracelet was based on gold bracelets on exhibit in the National Museum and the cross on the bracelet was based on the cross in the grounds of the church of St. Kevin in Glendalough. The image of St. Begnet holds a staff in her right hand to show she is the shepherd of her people and in her left hand is the church she founded St. Begnets on Dalkey Island.

Finally the name, Naomh Begnet was placed on the panel using the Uiscial Script as this script was used by the Celtic Christian monks from the 5th – 8th centuries. The finished icon was then left for an adequate period to dry before it was varnished using shellac varnish.

May St Begnet continue to bless our Church and all who come to view her. Visit www.ikonerin.org for more information on iconography in Ireland.

Parish foundation

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. A marble plaque over the sacristy door marks his burial. His brother Fr George Harold later served as Parish Priest (1880 -1894). Their names live on in the Harold Schools in Glasthule and Dalkey.

In1927 Dalkey was separated  from Glasthule and made a parish in its own right.

Clustered Parishes in the 21st Century.

Since 2010, our Dalkey parish is part of a cluster with Glasthule, Sallynoggin and Dun Laoghaire, all in the Dun Laoghaire Deanery of the Archdiocese of Dublin.