Articles, Maritime History

Mariners’ Church – History

Mariners’ Church, circa 1840

The Mariners’ Church – History

The Reverend Canon Victor G. Stacey

The building of Dun Laoghaire Harbour in 1820’s and the opening of the Dublin/Kingston Railway in 1834 gave rise to a large increase in population, turning a sleepy fishing village into a large residential area. Within the next twenty years some seven Anglican churches had been built where previously there had only been one – namely Monkstown Parish Church.

One of the first of the new churches was the Kingstown Episcopalian Mariners Church, the foundation stone of which was laid in 1836. Owing to some difficulty in the matter of a lease a special Act of Parliament had to be obtained for its erection. This created a “Trustee Church”, the Trustees being required to maintain the church by Pew Rents and weekly offerings.

The church was consecrated on the 25th June 1843. The first Chaplain, Dr. Richard Brooke described the building as “Large and gaunt and lofty and ugly a satire on taste, a libel of all ecclesiastical rule, mocking at proportion and symmetry, but spacious and dry and convenient, having accommodation for 1400 souls, and abundant seats for seamen and the poor and always well filled.”

Improvements were made twice by the Rev. S.A. Windle and the Rev. W.E. Burroughs at a total cost in excess of £11,000.

The following served as Chaplains and Incumbents:

  • 1836 – 1862 Richard Sinclair Brookes.
  • 1862 – 1876 Samuel Allen Windle.
  • 1876 – 1895 William Edward Burroughs. 1895 – 1911 John Lindsey Darling.
  • 1912 – 1921 Herbert Brownlow Kennedy. 1922 – 1923 Albert Edward Hughes.
  • 1924 – 1959 George Ashton Chamberlain.

During most of this time there was the assistance of a Curate.

The City and Town Commission met in the 1950s to rationalise parochial areas and ministry, in places where there were growing as well as shrinking populations. In 1959 the Mariners Church was grouped with Christ Church. The Rector of Christ Church, the Rev. Fergus Day, becoming Incumbent of the group. Following further erosion of numbers and much heart searching the Mariners Church closed for worship on Easter Day 1972.

Around this time the Maritime Institute showed an interest in acquiring the church for a museum and this met with the approval of the parishioners. Necessary repairs and the raising of finance has dragged out completion of the project. The rectory and hall were sold separately, the hall becoming St. Nicholas Montessori School.

On 8th June 1975 a Chapel dedicated to St. Columba was inaugurated in Christ Church, containing the Altar, war memorials and brass Lectern from the Mariners Church.

Music was always a feature of liturgical life in the Mariners, particularly during the lengthy period when F.C.J. Swanton was organist. During the 70s the historic Abbot and Smith organ was neglected and damaged. More recently what was left of it was incorporated into a new organ for Christ Church, Yarra, Melbourne by Irish organ builders Kenneth Jones Ltd.

So in a sense the Christian Witness of the Mariners Church lives on, through this instrument, the artefacts now nearby in Christ Church and the National Maritime Museum, which remembers people associated with the Maritime world and all to the glory of God who created the sea and dry land.