Clonsilla Project

The Clonsilla Project was officially launched on Sunday 28th April 2002. The project raised the funds for, and managed the building of, a meeting room to the side of the historic St. Mary's Church. The addition includes full disabled access, kitchen and toilet facilities. The centre, though modern in design, is in harmony with the rest of the building. The centre is available for the whole community as a room for meetings, for classes, for childcare - the list is endless! The Centre will assist in bringing together our growing community and provides an essential resource for community activities.

The official ‘sod turning ceremony’ for the centre took place on Sunday 13th June 2004. Lady Arnott kindly agreed to do the honours at the ceremony. Building work commenced in the autumn of 2004, and the centre was officially opened by the Most Rev. John Neill, Archbishop of Dublin, on Sunday 11th September 2005. The following speeches were made on the occasion of the opening

A summary of the Archbishop’s sermon:-
Commenting on the recent publication of the UN Human Development index, which noted that the Republic of Ireland was the second wealthiest country in the world but also one of the most socially divided, the Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Revd Dr John Neill, warned that with the growing gap between rich and poor 'we have the ingredients of serious community strife and the fragmentation of society within all too easy reach.'

Speaking in St Mary’s Church of Ireland Church in Clonsilla in Dublin, where he was opening a new Parish Centre, the Archbishop said, 'The quality of life within our new communities, the provision of real facilities, the availability of child care, the attention to those weaker members of the community – the elderly, and the large number of younger citizens with special needs – are not matters that can be put on the back burner to be tackled later. They are urgent now.'

Praising the local community’s initiative in developing the parish centre, the Archbishop said 'There was perhaps a time when it [St Mary’s Church Clonsilla] was seen as the Protestant Church behind closed gates serving the needs of a small but faithful Church of Ireland Community. You have seen a larger vision – you have seen possibilities of service, opportunities for the development of greater facilities for the whole community in the parish.’

Tom McCabe, Chairman of the Steering Committee, said:-
Your Grace, Bishop Paul. Reverend Fathers, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls.

I am sincerely honoured and delighted to be here on this very special day for the opening of the Clonsilla Parish Centre. This is the culmination of five years of extremely hard work.

It is exactly 160 years since our forefathers completed the building of this fine Church. Clonsilla in 1845 was a much different place to the one we see today. Famine, poverty, unemployment, mass emigration and little hope for the future were the picture of the day.

The Clonsilla of 2005 is a much changed place as we know. No-one works in the fields any more as most of the agricultural land in Clonsilla has been rezoned and transformed into housing and amenity areas. Unemployment stands at less than 5% in this area. Farming life has been replaced by Retailing, Industry, Services and Manufacturing; and Hotels, Golf, and Leisure facilities are prevalent everywhere we look. The Celtic Tiger is alive and well and living among us. In the last 10 years approximately 20,000 new homes have been built on our doorsteps. The needs of the parish and wider community have changed and the need for a well-designed meeting place here at St. Mary’s became apparent. What you will witness today is a centre that has been designed and finished to the very highest of standards. I hope that you will appreciate the striking high quality of materials and finish that we have specified. Over time, the bright copper roof will turn brown and with natural oxidization eventually turn a classic green. The local rumour is that the Irish Crown Jewels, allegedly buried in the grounds a few years back, had found a new home in this brightly finished Jewellery Box.

The building of the Clonsilla Parish Centre has been the culmination of over five years of great vision, superb planning and enormous fund-raising effort. The combined thought of the Vestry and Steering Committee also recognised the need to carry out repair work to the tower and roof, and to provide toilets and running water to move us into the 21st century. Sunday Club will be a completely new experience for the children of tomorrow!

No opening ceremony goes by without having to say a few “Thank you’s”. I would like firstly to congratulate and thank all of those people whose vision and hard work have made today possible.

From a fund-raising point of view, I would like to thank all parishioners for their tremendous generosity. The nature of the beast has meant that there has always been a ticket to be bought or an event to be supported. Thank you to those who set up standing orders, to Eddie Greene for his huge sponsored cycle to Norway, to the organisers of the Beetle Drives, the Dream Auction, the Gift Fairs and the Flower Evenings, fun days at Fort Lucan, Flower Evenings, three Golf Classics, six Car Boot Sales, not to mention the odd Coffee Morning, Cake Sale and visiting Choir.

Thank you to Fingal Co. Council, for your generosity, and also to a generous bequest of a late parishioner of Clonsilla. I would like especially to thank and congratulate those people whose efforts at working together have now put in place this facility that will hugely benefit in the wider community.

I have to finish off this list of “Thank You’s” by expressing my gratitude for the very fine way in which the main contractor Mick Duncan completed the building of the Parish Centre on schedule; to our Architect Don Cromer; and to all of the subcontractors I take a bow for delivering the project on time; not forgetting Jenny McGrath, our parish administrator, for many hours of publicity and administration over the years. Most importantly I must mention our Clonsilla neighbours for their patience. If I have forgotten any body or group of people, it was unintentional.

Finally, I would now like especially to thank and congratulate all of those people, past and present, who have served on the Parish Centre Steering Committee. Together, their efforts at working together have now put in place this facility that will give rise to many benefits within the wider community for years to come. May I now call on all of the present Steering Committee members to come up and receive a small gift as a measure of our appreciation for their efforts over the past five years.

The completion of this project would not have taken place without the personal dedication and drive of two very special people, Charles Seaman and Valerie Fildes. They are the heart and soul of this project. They have lived and breathed every foundation stone, steel girder, copper plate, lick of paint, right down to the new railings, shrubs, and the swept paths you admired on walking in here this morning. They have been the backbone and driving force of this project. This is their baby. And I know that they know every square inch of this project like no other person present today. Ladies and gentlemen, I ask you to join me in giving a standing appreciation to Charles Seaman and Valerie Fildes.

Ladies and gentlemen, many moons ago a young man with soft Co. Down accent came to this church as a Student Reader. He must have liked what he saw because within a few short years he returned as our Rector in the year 2000. Rev. Andrew Orr is a man of great belief in this parish and its people. He embraced our idea to have our own Parish Centre. He immediately set out a five year plan, and today his vision and drive have been realised. The people of this parish have asked me to thank him most sincerely on their behalf for all the many hours of:

  • Working behind the scenes;
  • Chasing grants of all types;
  • Meeting with civic and local government officials, the RCB and the masses of media that descend on him weekly;
  • Continuous communication with our Builders and Architect;
  • Never-ending good humour and cajoling of all of us on the various committees.

And, above all, for his passion and for his work as our Rector.

Rev. Andrew Orr said:-
Your Grace, Bishop Paul, ladies and gentlemen I would like to begin by quoting Grandpa Joe. I haven’t yet seen the new version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but those of you who like me have seen the old film many times will remember how, when Charlie finds the Golden ticket, Grandpa Joe leaps out of his sick bed, singing “they all said it couldn’t be done…I’d have said it couldn’t be done……But it can be done”. Yes, six or seven years ago, when the idea of the Clonsilla Project was mooted, there were many who said it couldn’t be done. Four or five years ago, when the plans were launched, others said it couldn’t be done. Clonsilla parish was too small, there was already a parish centre in Castleknock, it would take too much fundraising…. There were times when all of us thought it couldn’t be done. About six weeks ago I thought it couldn’t be done. But it can be done: it is done.

For that, as Tom said, so many people should be thanked for their contributions large and small. But I want to thank a couple more: first Tom himself. When I asked Tom to become chair of the Steering Committee, I hoped he would bring the qualities which he brought in his career on the international rugby field: grit, determination, resolve, charisma and a willingness to lead from the front. He has brought all that and far more. He has been a tireless worker, a great spokesman, an enthuser and motivator for the whole team. Tom, thank you for everything you have done for us.

I would also like to pay tribute to some special people in the past: our Sunday Club leaders down through the years, who have encouraged and taught and motivated the rising generation in the most difficult circumstances; first in the tiny vestry; then in the container, which began well but showed its age very quickly. Especially we want to thank Ruby Bannister and Margaret Tutty who taught for years in inadequate conditions. I hope you will see this day as part of our thanks to you for all the hard work you put in for this parish.

While so many people gave of their time and money, we remember two of our largest donations: the terrific grant from Fingal County Council, represented by some of the councillors who worked hard on our behalf and by Mr Senan Turnbull, and the most generous bequest of dear friend Alice Connor, represented today by her nephew Philip. These two items helped us to progress faster than we expected.

In conclusion, as Tom said, many have commented on the unusual and striking nature of the design and materials used in this building. Don, our architect, used as his inspiration not just the Annally tomb beside us, but also the 9th century oratory at Gallarus in Co. Kerry. Its shape, long, curved, narrowing towards the top, shows dramatically how our early Christian ancestors saw the Church. The shape is that of an upturned boat, like currachs drying on the sand. For them, the Christian community was the people of God, journeying together, sailing across the waters of life. Today, we are still the pilgrim people, sailing together. Today, we launch our boat for the 21st century. May God bless her and all who sail in her.

Sod Turning Ceremony

Official Opening Ceremony

Sod Turning Ceremony on the 13th June 2004

Official Opening Ceremony on the 11th September 2005

The Clonsilla Project Plan

Site Plans - Side Elevation

Site Plans - Top Elevation

Site Plan - Overall

All Models

Progress of the Building Work

(Click on picture to enlarge)

23rd January 2005

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13th February 2005

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27th February 2005

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10th July 2005

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11th September 2005

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