Journal Volume 3 2000

Places of Worship in Greystones (continued/2)

The Church of the Holy Rosary

The Church of the Holy Rosary on La Touche Road is the Roman Catholic parish church. Consecrated in 1908 (Samuel French says 1909), it was built to replace a temporary galvanised iron structure, which was destroyed during a storm on 26 February 1903. Some accounts say that the temporary building was on the seafront. An unpublished paper on the history of Greystones by the late Noel William Kennedy, MA (1913-1987), a classics master and British army wartime major who was reared in Killincarrig, says that the present edifice was built on the site of the building that was blown down. The late Very Revd Patrick L O'Sullivan, PP, states quite plainly in his 1966 parish booklet that 'the site of the present church in Greystones was obtained in 1894 and a temporary chapel, dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary, was built there'.

Holy Rosary Church, Greystones

The loss of their temporary place of worship was the second blow suffered by the small Catholic population of Greystones at the beginning of the last century. Their priest, the Revd Arthur Moore, had died exactly five months before the storm. A former Wicklow county librarian, the late Brigid Redmond, MA, HDipEd, records that the temporary structure was erected in 1895 and that the first priest came to Greystones at that time. Would we be right in assuming that that priest was the Rev Arthur Moore, I wonder? There is a wall-plaque to his memory (it's the only such plaque in the church) on the right-hand side as you proceed up the main aisle. The inscription is as follows: 'A.M.D.G./In memory of the/ Rev. Arthur Moore C.C./Greystones/who died 27th September 1902. /His many friends have raised/a fund which in his name/they have devoted to the erection/of the apse of this church./ May he rest in peace'. We will return to the matter of the first resident priest when we get to St Kilian's church.

The editor of Holy Redeemer Church1792-1992: a Bray parish, Brendan ÓCathaoir will allow me to quote from the ‘List of Parish Priests' on p.74 of his excellent book:

Bray and Greystones:


John Joseph Miley


Walter Lee


Nicholas Donnelly


Timothy O'Gorman

So it appears that the parish priest of Bray had charge of Greystones too until the first decade of the twentieth century. I think Father Michael Flood may have been the first resident parish priest here. Father Flood was a friend of the first Presbyterian minister of Greystones and Kilpedder, the Revd Samuel Lundie, a native of Co. Cavanwho laboured here from 1890 till 1911, when he emigrated to Canada. These two pastors used to meet socially and play the occasional game of golf together, we're told.

Before my wife and family and I moved to this area in 1964, I happened to mention to a Dublin friend, the late John M Chichester, that, our old house in Bray having been sold and the purchase ofa new house in the town having fallen through, we were going to settle in Greystones. 'You'll be meeting Father John Fennelly', said he: 'he's one of the country's leading authorities on Plain Chant'. And so he was. He was a poet too and he became Canon Fennelly in his late years. A plain-spoken man and country- bred, he called to our house when we were only a short time here and my wife asked him if she might offer him some refreshment. 'No, thank you', he replied: 'I naither ait, drink nor smoke in me parishioners' houses'. She knew where she stood with him then!

Canon Fennelly was a great man for publications and for the printed word. He brought out two, if not three, parish booklets during his pastorate here. I have two of them: one priced at six [old] pence and the other at a shilling. There is a third one dating from the same era in the County Library's special collection, but I cannot say for certain that it was issued in Father Fennelly's time. Brigid Redmond (mentioned above) contributed a local history article to the 1962 sixpenny booklet. She called it 'The Heritage that is Ours'. Miss Redmond records no firm date for the consecration and dedication of this church. Here is what she says: '...Before (sic) 1908 the temporary church was replaced by the present Church of the Holy Rosary and the modem parish of Greystones and Blacklion was formed'. A diligent local historian, Eva Ó Cathaoir, records in the bicentenary book on the Church of the Holy Redeemer, Bray, that Greystones became a separate parish (from Bray) in 1903.

An outstanding feature of this church is its two stained-glass windows by Evie Hone (1894-1955). These windows were completed in 1948 and their subjects are 'The Good Shepherd' and 'Our Lady of the Rosary', the latter relating to the naval battle of Lepanto fought on 7 October 1571, with a papal contingent taking part. Are any of you old enough to remember Chesterton's poem 'Lepanto' in the schoolbooks sixty years ago, with its catchy opening line ‘Dim drums throbbing in the hills half-heard'?

This edifice originally had a spire, but a local builder, William R Lendrum - in what year is not recorded, removed it. (See the two pictures on p. 22 of the first volume of Derek T Paine's four-volume Pictorial history of Greystones 1993). In the grounds of the church is the fine parochial house, which according to Father O'Sullivan's 1966-parish booklet dates from 1886. Also in the grounds, on the south side of the church, are the imposing new buildings completed only last year (1999). These are the commodious Kilian House Family Centre and the detached residence of one of the curates. The exterior of the church has recently been cleaned and painted and, as I write, the floor and interior are being attended to. All the work is going ahead under the pastorate of the Rt Revd Monsignor Patrick Wallace, PP, and his assistant priests, Fathers John McDonagh and Denis Quinn, while the church grounds continue to be creditably maintained. This Church of the Holy Rosary boasts a splendid choir, which is under the direction of Mr Brendan Kelly.


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