Founded in 1279, the Church was dispossessed during the Reformation in 1539. The Carmelite community was re-established in 1825, though not on the exact spot of the original foundation. It is regarded by the Province as its “Mother house” and is one of the biggest communities in the Province. Since October 1974, the community has been entrusted with the care of the parish of Whitefriar Street on behalf of the Archdiocese of Dublin. As well as working in the parish, members of the community are also chaplains to the Cork Street Hospital and are the directors of the Whitefriar Street Community Centre which was officially opened in 1998 by President Mary McAleese to serve the needs of the local people.
The Church is one of the largest in Dublin, and houses one of the finest organs in the country which was built by Kenneth Jones Organs Limited in 1983. The church also had a very fine choir for a number of years under the directorship of Shane Brennan, an accomplished organist and musician, and they provided great solemnity to the 11.30 Mass on Sunday mornings. Also found in this church are the relics of St Valentine which were given as a gift to the Church by the Holy See. It also houses many shrines at which candles burn endlessly. In the main entrance off Aungier Street there is a Calvary scene as well as a Shrine of St Albert of Sicily from where people may take 'Albert's Water.'
Within the church's buildings are also to be found a coffee shop and a second-hand bookshop. Along the walkway between the coffee shop and the main church there is a display on the Order of Carmelites including photographs and texts about the original foundation in Israel, the history of the Irish Province, and the current missions in Zimbabwe. As one enters the church by the main entrance off Aungier Street there is a display of the history of the church itself in both drawing and diagram form with a brief display in photographs and text recounting some of the major highlights of the church's history in the twentieth century. Just off the main entrance is also to be found a repository shop which is well stocked in Mass cards, pictures, prayer cards, rosaries, etc., and which is opened every day.
Shrine of Our Lady of Dublin
The Shrine of Our Lady of Dublin is to be found in Whitefriar Street Church and is a place of peace and reflection. Originally the black oak statue stood in a place of honour in St Mary's Abbey, Mary Street (the site is now occupied by St Michan's flats). Recently a portion of the old abbey has been restored and is accessible through Meeting House Lane off Capel Street. The statue of Our Lady of Dublin with the Christ child is of sixteenth century origin and, after the sacking of the Abbey in 1539, was hidden and preserved. It was found by Fr John Spratt in 1824 and brought to Whitefriar Street Church. The history of its survival is indicative of a persevering faith in the people and the statue is dear to Dubliners and others alike. The feastday of Our Lady of Dublin is celebrated on September 8 which is also the date of the Birthday of Our Lady. For full text, click here.
Articles of interest
- A History of Whitefriar Street Church
- An Appreciation of the Present Carmelite Buildings at Whitefriars Street (1964)
- Fr John Spratt - Beloved of Dublin's Poor
Rev Fr Prior, O.Carm.,
56 Aungier Street,
Tel: 01 4758821.
Fax: 01 4758825.
Carmelite Community Centre
56 Aungier Street,
Tel: 01 4754673