Clonsilla History

St Mary's, ClonsillaClonsilla (Cluain Saileach - The Sally Meadow)

The land on which St Mary's church stands has an ecclesiastical history going back to 500AD.
The last surviving disciple of St Patrick, Saint Machutus the first Abbot of Louth, founded "The White Church of Saint Machutus" (a Benedictine order) in Coolmine early in the first part of the 6th century.
Clonsilla was a cell of the Coolmine Church but there is little documentary evidence of a building or church in Clonsilla until 1215/17. The lands were then owned by the "priory of Little Malvern" to which all revenues were sent.

Archbishop Henry de Londres (1212-1228) consecrated the Priory of St Brigid's, Clonsilla. The priory was completed in 1221. The place of worship at Coolmine had declined gradually and had disappeared by 1490.

Clonsilla was a place of considerable trouble from the Irish clans in the early 15th century and by 1468 the lands were made over to the Cistercian Abbey of St Mary's Dublin from the Prior of Little Malvern. For 50 years, St Mary's held tenure.

Following the dissolution of the religious houses, the lands became available to be leased. Chief Justice Luttrell tenanted the lands from 1506 and on his death in 1544 he was buried in the grounds. The Luttrell Family came to Ireland in 1204 and held lands in Clonsilla until the end of the 18th century. The priory church was then known as "The white chapel of St Machtus of Clonsilla".
In the early 1600's, conflict on the state of repair of the church was reported. Little documented history remains of the church during the 1700's.

The present church was built in 1845 with the tower added in 1850 during the office of Archbishop Whateley (1831 - 1863). The bell in the tower is dated 1747 and was cast in Gloucester. It was a gift from St Werburg's church, where it formed part of a ring of six bells. St Werburg's is situated beside Dublin Castle and its tower, which overlooked the Castle, was removed on security grounds in 1836.
In 1907 Sir Arthur Vickers, the Ulster King at Arms, following the advice of a medium he had consulted, came to Clonsilla to search for the stolen insignia of Saint Patrick (the Irish State Crown Jewels). The visit ended in failure. Rumours still persist that the jewels are hidden somewhere in the grounds.

In 2005, an extension to St Mary’s was completed to provide Clonsilla Parish Centre, and to bring running water into the church. The new centre was opened, and the church rededicated, by Archbishop John Neill on 11 September 2005.

Interesting features:
The font and baptistry were renewed and enlarged in 1958 in memory of Mary Elizabeth Maher of Williamstown House, Clonsilla. The pulpit was provided by Mrs Maher as a thanksgiving in November 1946.

The cross was handmade by Mr George Colton from Cork, father of our former Rector The Right Rev. Paul Colton.

The Sanctuary floor was laid in memory of Sir John Arnott, Bt., who died in March 1898 and of his wife Emily Jane was died in October 1938. It was donated by their sons Maxwell and Loftus. The chairs in the sanctuary were donated in memory of Maxwell (died September 1954) and Loftus (died December 1956).

The Rector's Prayer Desk was presented in memory of Edward Smith of Mount View, Clonsilla, who died in October 1930, and of his wife Hannah Isobel who died in April 1911. The Lectern was presented in memory of James Albert Smith, of Mount View, Clonsilla, in 1949.

The organ was installed in 1992 by Jeffers of Bandon. It is a fine example of an Allen electronic organ and was donated by the Arnott family in memory of Sir John Arnott, Bt.

The new Parish Room was officially opened on the 11th September 2005 by the Archbishop of Dublin, Most Reverend John Neill.

Vicars and Incumbents of Clonsilla

1335 - John Rous

1449 - Robert Hay

1615 - John Rice

1617 - Roger Good*

1660 - Patrick Sheridan

1669 - Henry Monypenny

1691 - Charles Proby

1695 - Philip Whittingham

1710 - Thomas Walls

1745 - John Towers

1752 - Kene Percival

1764 - Richard Godley

1767 - John O'Connor

1809 - George O'Connor

1843 - Samuel Hinds

1848 - Ralph Sadleir

1902 - Henry C Browne

1922 - Robert Hale Bodel

1937 - Leopold A.P.W. Hunter

1951 - William W.L Rooke

1961 - Erberto Mahon Neill

1975 - Cecil William Bryan

1990 - William Paul Colton

2000 - Andrew D. H. Orr





* - The Impropriate Cure of Clonsilla, called in the Diocesan Register sometimes a Chapliancy, was held by the Vicars of Castleknock up to Disestablishment and to the death of Rev. Ralph Sadleir in1902.

** - The Parish was again united to Castleknock in 1937.

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