Ireland’s last Vincentian church, in the heart of Phibsborough

Phibsborough is a place that prides itself on its history and togetherness. Whether that be through supporting Bohemians football club or the Irish national side at Dalymount Park, through its many long-established pubs or through religion, unity is a local value. 

St. Peter’s Church is Ireland’s only remaining Vincentian church and it towers 200 feet above the hustle and bustle of Phibsborough, and is very much the main local Catholic chapel.

“The church is central to a lot of people’s lives – even to the people who don’t usually come to the church often,” church secretary Antoinette Dunne says. “The church gives a sense of comfort to those who are grieving and also gives a feeling of being less lonely to our elderly attendees. People are drawn to the church in times of grievance and joy.”

Although attendances at masses across the country have been dwindling for a number of years, Dunne says, “There is still great faith out there. This is represented by the continuous rise in numbers at our Novena every Monday evening.”

“The church contributes to a lot of people’s lives in many different ways in the local community.”

The history of St Peter’s church dates back as far as the early 19th century.  Initially founded as a Catholic school in 1826, the site’s ownership was transferred to the Vincentian community from the parish of St Paul’s, Arran Quay in 1854. At that time, the Vincentians were highly respected in Ireland, and people would travel across the country to hear the Vincentians address densely populated crowds. 

The church at that time was not the one that dominates the local skyline today. All that stood was a small chapel.

The construction of the Gothic church was inspired by Meath native, Fr Thomas McNamara. 

In 1862 he drew up plans to renovate the church. But it was not until nearly 50 years later than the famous spire was completed.

It is said that the skyscraping construction was triggered when visiting Cardinal Moran of Australia urged the Catholic church in Ireland to build taller churches in Dublin to improve its skyline. 

While the church has had maintenance work done since its completion in 1911, it has barely changed and is, in an architectural sense, like stepping foot into the past. 

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