Friday 3 January 2020

Marking 150 Years of St Barnabas Church in Dublin

This month marks the 150th anniversary of the founding of a unique church in the history of the Church of Ireland, that of St Barnabas in the docklands area of Dublin.

Undated photograph of the church of St Barnabas
from the RCB Library Photographic Collection.
Photo credit: Charles G Glover.
This church stood for just over 100 years and was a dynamic presence within the Church of Ireland and the community that it served.

St Barnabas’s was located on Upper Sherriff Street in Dublin, a predominantly urban, industrialised, and working-class area of the inner-city. In the 1860s – and, indeed, for much of its history up until the present day – this area was witness to high levels of poverty, and its residents suffered appalling housing conditions.

Back then, the area was served by the parish of St Thomas, where the incumbent (from 1866) was the Revd John Grainger who recognised the potential growth of the area for the Church of Ireland. Thanks to a bequest, funds were secured to build a church, which was consecrated on 22 January 1870 and went on to devote much of its pastoral care to aspects of social justice and reform, particularly in its attempts to solve the housing crisis that afflicted the area.

The middle part of the 20th century saw a decline in the members of the Church of Ireland in the area, and the parish was united with Drumcondra and North Strand in 1965, with the demolition of the church itself in 1969.

This January's Archive of the Month is a celebration of a unique church within the Church of Ireland, highlighting the community work of its many pastors, which was so admired by many within the Church, and by playwrights and writers, as well as civil organisations throughout Ireland.