Three maps, Rocque's Map, 1756; "New Map of the City of Dublin 1835" &
Ordnance Survey May, 1838, show that St. Nicholas of Myra was not built on a
main street, but in a relatively inconspicuous position between two streets,
Plunket Street (new John Dillon Street) to the east and Francis Street to
the west. A short lane, Chapel Lane, (now part of the church courtyard) led
from Francis Street to the church. Although, when the present church was
erected in 1829 it was no longer necessary for Catholic churches to be
concealed, the site was chosen for historical reasons.
In her article "A Hidden Church?" Nuala burke describes the earlier chapel
in Francis Street, the chapel built by the Franciscans in the latter part of
the 17th century. Standing on the same partially hidden site, this appears
to have been a well built chapel rather than a building adapted as a chapel.
It was the late 17th century chapel that was subsequently replaced by the
present Church of St. Nicholas of Myra, when the Rev. Matthew Flanagan,
appointed Parish Priest in 1827, decided to erect a new church.
It can be seen on the 1838 Map that there is a
building situated at the south-east corner of the church which is named
"Independent Chapel". On Rocque's Map, this is marked P.M.H. (Presbyterian
Meeting House). It does not appear on the "New Map". This old Presbyterian
Meeting House, which had formed part of the continuous religious
associations of the site, was demolished during the realignment of Plunket
Street/John Dillon Street. However, before its demise, the old House
underwent some striking changes. It came under the influence of Selina,
Countess of Huntingdon.
Shortly after Dr. Flanagan's arrival in
Francis Street, as Parish Priest, (in 1827) he decided to enlarge the
existing church, an oblong building 80ft x 40ft. During the course of this
extension, when the east wall and north and south transepts had been
erected, Fr. Flanagan decided to build a totally new church. To this end he
had demolished the remainder of the old walls and built his church extending
to the west from the newly erected east wall and transepts.
Our thanks to Millie Lawler for her
permission to reproduce this extract from her thesis.