Tuesday, 26 November, 2019
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An extensive archaeological dig at the site of Apollo House (demolished 2018) has revealed the thick stone walls of a covert church for Catholics dating back to the turn of the 18th century. 

A church was first built on the site in 1709 in Penal times when the practice of Catholicism was banned. In spite of the religious restrictions, the chapel flourished and attracted thousands of worshippers. From the foundation of St Andrew’s parish in 1709, there was probably a building used as a chapel here, as depicted on John Rocque’s map of 1756. Although this large structure served many thousands of the Catholic faithful for more than a century, there was no graveyard attached to the church.

By 1811, the parish had grown and “it was decided that the chapel would have to be reconstructed”, the archaeological report says.

On April 23rd, 1814, the inscribed foundation stone for the new chapel was laid by then parish priest Dr Daniel Murray (Archbishop of Dublin from 1823 to 1852). Work on a new structure duly started, and by 1831 considerable progress had been made. However, progress stalled when there was a split in the ranks of the faithful. A newly appointed priest of St Andrew’s Parish found “a more desirable site for a new church was available on wasteland at a more central location in the parish on Westland Row”. It was at this point that work at the Tara Street church (mapped by the earliest ordnance survey) was halted. The building was subsequently deconsecrated.

The church ruins were unearthed in recent weeks by archaeologists interested in what lay beneath an old national school that had stood here up until the mid-1980s. Once the Tara Street ruins have been fully explored and the details recorded, they are likely to make way for the planned new office complex.

Source: Irish Times (full article) 


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