05 Jun St Mary’s Church, Dublin
In amongst the produce stalls and family-run stores in the warren of streets to the west of O’Connell Street stands what was once one of the most important society church’s in 18th & 19th century Dublin. Dating back to 1697, its design is usually credited to Sir William Robinson, the Surveyor General who also built the beautiful Royal Hospital Kilmainham, and it is reckoned to be the first church in the city with a gallery.
Famous past parishioners here include Arthur Guinness, who got married here in 1793, and Wolfe Tone, the leader of the United Irishmen, who was born within a stone’s throw of the church and baptised here in the 1760s. The cross street and the small park to the rear of the church are named in his honour today. The playwright Sean O’Casey was also baptised at St Mary’s in 1880.
Church services finally ceased in the mid-1980’s and, in recent years, St Mary’s has gone through many incarnations, including a bookshop, with cheap shelves standing where the pews once were. The church has recently been renovated and turned into a pub. However, the impressive stained glass windows and the organ remain intact.
St Mary’s Church is a hidden gem and is worth a visit on your tours of Ireland.