In 1038 the first Bishop of Dublin with Sitric the Danish king of Dublin provided a St. Nicholas or Myra Chapel in Christchurch to act as a beacon to Norsemen returning from their travels. The original church said to be built in 1235 in a tradition since 1166 of providing a St. Nicholas without the walls of the city to distinguish it from the church dedicated to St. Nicolas within the walls. Only part of the church, the north transept was actually dedicated to St. Nicolas as the church itself was in the Parish of and dedicated to St. Patrick.

The site on which the present church is built appears to have been a place of worship from at least the 12th century when a timber church existed there. A stone church and or monastery followed the demolition of the timber building, was built in 1235 for the Franciscan order by Archbishop John Cumin, successor to St. Laurence O'Toole. The stone church was destroyed during the "Dissolution" reign of Henry VIII. The site was reacquired by the Franciscans in the late 17th century but concern about the reaction to the Titus Oates plots, and imprisonment of a succession of Dublin bishops delayed building until 1829, the year of catholic emancipation, when Fr. Matthew Flanagan was Parish Priest.

The present church was built as the Metropolitan Church for Irish Catholic Archbishops by Archbishop Patrick Russell, replacing the church in Limerick Lane. The first parish priest was appointed in 1809. The designer of the church was the Architect of Rusborough House, John Leeson. The building of the church began in the late Georgian period in Dublin in 1829 and was opened in 1834 and dedicated in 1835.

St. Nicholas, a bishop of the 3rd and 4th century, of a town, now in present day Turkey, is depicted in stained glass. Three golden balls/bags and an anchor lie at his feet. The golden bags are a reference to Santa Claus. The anchor can be seen as an indication of the Saint's patronage of the people of Dublin during its seafaring times and as a link to St. Patrick's Cathedral's Myra chapel provided in 1038 by the Danish king to oversee Norsemen returning from their travels.

Another item of interest is the depiction in repetition in the ceiling panels of a Manx emblem reflecting that the Isle of Man was formerly part of the Parish of Francis Street. Another panel commemorates the founding of the Legion of Mary in Myra Hall in 1921.

From 1783 to 1967, when the Coombe Hospital was at its original location, the births of all Catholics born there, were registered in Francis Street Church. Registers for the church began in 1742. Early registers contain baptismal entries for the Isle of Man.

Brass plates containing parishioners names over the life time of the building adorn each seat. While at present, there are no formal tours of the church, it is possible to make a personal visit on any weekday between 10.30am and 12noon.



See also: An Historical and Architectural Survey, authored by Millie Lawler






Office: 01-5157512 9.30am - 12noon, rita@francisstreetparish.ie
Outside Office hours: 01-5611390, franciss@francisstreetparish.ie