NIAH Survey: Dublin Phase XI
May 2, 2017
The days are getting longer and it looks a little less like rain. Know what that means? That’s right, another survey for the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage! I am proud to be teaming up with a great group of consultants under the Built Heritage Collective Ireland. Together we are taking on the Dublin Phase XI survey, and I’m happy to say that this is my fifth survey for the NIAH since 2011. I also participated in the Dublin Phase I and Phase IX surveys, as well as the surveys of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown and Co. Cavan. These exercises form a critical part of the historic record, and aid in informing planning applications and sensitive development for clients, professionals, and planning authorities alike.
The Dublin Phase XI survey focuses on parts of Dublin 2 and Dublin 8, notably the west side of Aungier Street, as well as areas to the south-west. I was delighted to begin the summer’s inventory with Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church and the associated Carmelite Priory in Aungier Street. The Carmelites arrived in Ireland in the mid-13th century and established a monastery in the churchyard of St. Peter shortly thereafter. After the Dissolution the Carmelites went into hiding, and Francis Aungier razed to the ground what little remained of the monastery when he laid out his eponymous street in 1661. However, the Carmelites re-emerged in the early 18th century and rebuilt their church in 1825, nearly on the exact same site as the medieval monastery. The church was extended and refurbished throughout the 19th and mid-20th centuries, and even as a conservationist I was surprised by the wealth of detailed architectural fabric and artistic flourishes inside its soaring, groin-vaulted nave and side aisles.
The mosaic and glass baldacchino reminded me of the famous altar inside St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. To the north-east corner is the Shrine of Our Lady of Dublin, which features an oak figure of the Madonna and Child from c.1500, and which used to be in St. Mary’s Cistercian Abbey north of the Liffey, until it was removed and discovered by Carmelite Father John Spratt in a shop in the early-19th century. Of course, no mention of the church would be complete with giving due attention to St. Valentine, whose relics are enclosed in a marble case in the north chapel. The relics were gifted to Father Spratt by Pope Gregory XVI. The entrance to this incredible church is inconspicuously hidden in the entrance to the c.1915 priory, but it is open to the public, so don’t miss an opportunity to pop in when you are in the area.
I will be updating my blog with other notable sites as the survey progresses, and look forward to a good excuse to spend the long summer evenings outdoors, exploring Dublin’s immense built heritage.
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