Articles, Maritime History


Building on the Past for the Future


Now that the Museum in the Former Mariners’ Church is open again, this page is out-of-date.  It is left here for reference


The development of the Mariners’ Church, Dún Laoghaire, Appeal Fund – €100,000

To Finance the Development of Ireland’s Unique Mariners’ Church, Maritime Museum and Library.

The Mariners’ Church:

Some facts:

  • The Mariners Church, Dún Laoghaire, is one of the last remaining sailors’ churches.
  • It has a ground floor, a gallery, a large basement and extends to some 1400 sq. m. of exhibition floor space.
  • The bell tower has spectacular views over the sea, harbours and the town.
  • There are important stained glass windows.
  • There are more than 7,000 artefacts and documents in the collection.
  • The Mariners Church and the Museum are organised on an entirely voluntary basis and, at present, depend on voluntary fund raising activities.

The Renovations:

There were to be three phases to the renovation:

  • Phase One: the exterior of the building, (roof, walls, windows) Completed by John Sisk and Son, overseen by David Slattery
  • Phase Two: the internals of the building, (remove and treat dry rot, ceiling, timbers, plastering, painting, ceiling lighting) Doyle Contractors, overseen by David Slattery
  • Phase Three: was intended to complete the museum.  Due to termination of funding this has been reduced to the main floor, leaving the gallery, basement and spire for a future phase
    Phase Three: heating, toilets, emergency and display lighting, display cabinets, entrance lobby.  Felim Dunne has been appointed Project Manager.  Contractors to be selected. To re-open by end of 2010.

    • In 2006 a business plan was prepared and presented to the Taoiseach’s office.
    • Very substantial funding was authorised by the Government for Capital Expenditure.
    • Well known Restoration Architect David Slattery was engaged to oversee the restoration of the fabric of the building.
    • John Sisk and Son Ltd. were awarded the contract.
    • In the autumn of 2006 phase I of the work commenced.

Phase One.

Phase one which was carried out by Messrs. John Sisk and Son Ltd and completed at the end of December 2007, included the virtual replacement of the entire roof which was in very bad condition, the re pointing and cleaning of the stone work of the walls and replacement of gutters and down pipes.

The beautiful granite, which was quarried from Dalkey Hill over one hundred and seventy years ago, had become dull and stained by time, now glows in the sunlight. The spire and tower, which was added later has become a landmark in Dún Laoghaire. The roof is now water tight and no longer do members have to place buckets to catch the worst of the drips.

The repair of the fine Victorian stained glass windows was undertaken by Sheridan Stained Glass Creations Ltd. They removed the glass from the window frames and remade them in their studios. Meanwhile the frames had to be made water tight before the stained glass could be re fitted. Much water had gained ingress through the old frames which damaged internal timbers and plaster work. The restored glass is now protected by Ultra Violet screens saving artefacts and pictures from harmful sunlight.

Architect James Slattery and Quantity Surveyor Declan Reddy.

Phase 2.

Phase two commenced in January 2008 when Messrs Doyle Contractors came on site. All the internal plasterwork which was damaged by damp and all rotten timbers had to be removed and replaced by suitable modern materials compatible with the original structure. This included the repair of the timber ceiling and all upright internal wooden structures; the repainting of all the walls and woodwork.

Before any of the work could commence a lot of preparation had to take place. Volunteers had to remove all the smaller artefacts from the ground floor and main body of the museum and to make dust proof areas in the basement. Larger items such as the Bailey Optic had to be boxed and dust proofed in situ. The opportunity was taken to photograph all the models, artefacts and pictures and at the same time update our inventory. The process of transferring this inventory with photographs to a modern “Search & Retrieval” computer programme is well advanced, to aid future research and keep track of our unique collection.

The main floor was covered in visqueen and then hardboard to protect it from the scaffolding, which had to be erected to reach the 80 foot ceiling. This entailed steel jacks being installed in the basement to support the main floor.

Architect James Slattery and Quantity Surveyor Declan Reddy.

Phase 3.

Phase Three: 2011: The brief for the next part of the restoration includes the installation of heating, new access and toilet facilities for the disabled, reception and office, new lighting, and landscaping of the grounds. It is hoped to make provision for a coffee shop together with a children’s corner, while the exhibitions will be set up on the ground floor, initially, followed by displays in the galleries.  The sub committee overseeing the project. Eoghan Ganly, Breasal O’Caollai, Michael O’Flaherty, Michael Prior, J.P. Durkan and Peadar Ward.

Architect: Felim Dunne.

The History:

In the 1830s the Port of Kingstown was built as a “Harbour of Refuge” for sailing ships waiting to enter the Port of Dublin. The bar across the mouth of the Liffey and treacherous currents meant that there were restrictions on ships entering Dublin Port. This resulted in hundreds of Naval and Merchant ships waiting in Kingstown Harbour for an opportune moment to enter Dublin Port.

It was seen as important that a Church should be built to look after the spiritual needs of the Officers and Sailors. In 1837 the Mariners Church was built and the spire was added a few years later. The church retains many of the original features, including the prisoners docks in the gallery and the magnificent stained glass windows.

In the mid 20th Century the congregation dwindled and the Church closed in 1971.

The property was then leased from the Representative Church Body by the Maritime Institute for use as a Museum, which opened in 1976.

Recently the Free hold of the Mariners Church has been purchased.

The Future:

The present volunteer structure will be enhanced by a professional Curator and Librarian. Approaches are being made to a number of organisations for future cooperation.

There will be a library reading room to aid in research and educational projects.

Educational visits will be arranged with schools, colleges and interested groups.

There will be provision for work shops for the preservation and restoration of artefacts and books. Safe dry stores need to be created.

The most modern display technology will be employed to show to the best advantage the many important artefacts and pictures in the growing collection.

We urgently need funds to achieve all this.

The fund will also help with the acquisition of new exhibits and the day to day running of the Museum, but needs your support and donations.


Hon. Administrator.  Roger Kirker