10 March 2022

The 19th century church
in Kill o’ the Grange has
roots in the sixth century

The Church of Ireland parish church at Kill o’ the Grange stands at a key junction in the Deansgrange, Clonkeen and Foxrock area (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Patrick Comerford

The Church of Ireland parish church at Kill o’ the Grange stands at a key junction in the Deansgrange, Clonkeen and Foxrock area, making it a landmark building in that part of south Dublin. It is one of the leading evangelical churches in the Church of Ireland. Although it was built in 1863-1864, the church and parish are said to date back to the 11th, or even the sixth, century.

Kill o’ the Grange is said to be associated with Saint Finnian of Clonard. Although the ruins of an ancient church in the parish date from the 11th century, parts of it may date to the sixth century as they are similar to remains found at Glendalough. The church was originally a simple oblong building, now represented by the ruined nave, and a chancel and belfry were later added. The site also includes a bullaun and holy well.

In the Middle Ages, the parish belonged to the Priory of the Holy Trinity or Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, and included chapels at Carrickbrennan and Stillorgan.

The west end and tower of Kill o’ the Grange Church (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Church records give a vivid picture of the 14th century monastic site at Clonkeen or Kill o’ the Grange, and describe the building of a kiln house with a thatched roof and wattle and daub walls. The grange was built from timber bought from the native Irish, probably in the Dublin Mountains.

At the Reformation, the church at Grange passed to the Deans of Christ Church Cathedral, who appointed the vicars, beginning with the Revd John Callan in 1542.

The area is home to a number of historic houses, including Kill Abbey, originally built in 1595 by John Usher. The house is now much modified but still represents the oldest house in the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown area.

During the Cromwellian period, the church at Kill was in ruins. It was never used again, and the parish was incorporated into Monkstown parish.

Inside Kill o’ the Grange Church facing east (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

A new parish was constituted on 24 October 1862, the Revd Thomas Wallace was appointed the first incumbent that year. Until 1870, the appointment of the incumbent was in the gift of the Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, who was also the Rector of Monkstown until the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland.

A new church was designed in 1863 by William John Welland (1832-1896) and William Gillespie (1818-1899), architects to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners of the Church of Ireland. The church was built under the supervision of James McAllister, and James Douglass was the contractor. The foundation stone was laid in July 1863, and the church was consecrated a year later, on 26 July 1864.

The design by Welland and Gillespie may have influenced the designs by Sir Thomas Newenham Deane (1827-1899) of Holy Trinity Church in Westport, Co Mayo (1869-1871).

The church is built on a rectangular plan with a double height apse, a nave, chancel, south porch and robing room, and a belfry in the north-west angle. A font from the mediaeval Grange Church was reclaimed when the new church was being built, the oak in the church is reclaimed ‘Irish Oak formerly part of the roof of Trinity College Dublin 1698.’

Inside Kill o’ the Grange Church facing west (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

The church is built on a rectilinear plan with a four-bay double-height nave opening into single-bay, double-height apse on an engaged half-octagonal plan. There is a single-bay, three-stage engaged tower on a square plan at the north-west corner.

The rock-faced surface finish is offset by silver-grey that shows good quality workmanship and produces a two-tone palette. The slender profile of the windows underpin a mediaeval Gothic theme. The gabled tower and high-pitched roof, according to the Dublin Builder in 1864, present ‘elevations preparatory to the formation of transepts when required.’

Those transepts were never built, but the church has been well maintained, and substantial quantities of the original fabric remain, outside and inside.

Inside, the fittings and features include a pipe organ built in 1907 by Peter Conacher and Company of Huddersfield and Dublin; contemporary joinery; the exposed timber roof; and a timber-boarded choir gallery at the west end on an elliptical plan supporting the timber panelled pipe organ in a round-headed alcove.

There are polished brass wall monuments with cut-white marble wall monuments, a Caen stone Gothic-style pulpit and a Caen stone Gothic-style lectern, both dating from 1891.

The two-light War Memorial Window (1947) designed by Catherine O’Brien (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

The windows in the church include lancet windows in bipartite and tripartite arrangements and a quatrefoil Rose Window at the west end.

The Welland Memorial East Window (1931), depicting the Good Shepherd, is the work of An Túr Gloine studios of Dublin and was designed by Hubert McGoldrick (1897-1967). It commemorates the Revd Charles William Welland (1856-1929), rector of the parish in 1889-1923.

The two-light War Memorial Window (1947), with the inscription ‘Let light perpetual shine upon them,’ was designed by Catherine O’Brien.

A wall monument recalls the Revd Thomas Wallace, by whose ‘efforts the church and schoolhouse were erected. Another memorial recalls Edwina Katherine Beresford and Amelia Mary Selina Bereford, sisters who died on the same day, 11 March 1926, and their brother, Frederick John Isaac Beresford, who died on 15 October 1929.

The war memorials commemorate Major Richard Fielding Morrison (1890-1918), Sub-Lieutenant Robert Herman Grant Morrison (1891-1914) of Johnstown House, and Captain George Paton Smyth (1914-1944) who ‘was taken prisoner-of-war’ and ‘died in enemy hands on the Java Seas.’

The church was reroofed in 2005. In recent years, the timber pews have been removed, and the floor is carpeted.

Recent rectors of Kill o’ the Grange have included Canon Billy Gibbons (1972-1995), and the Right Revd Ferran Glenfield, now Bishop of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh. The present rector is the Revd Alan Breen.

The Welland Memorial East Window (1931) was designed by Hubert McGoldrick of An Túr Gloine (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Praying with the Psalms in Lent:
10 March 2022 (Psalms 25, 26, 27)

‘All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness’ (Psalm 25: 10) … a path through the fields in Comberford, Staffordshire (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Before today begins, I am taking some time early this morning for prayer, reflection and reading.

During Lent this year, in this Prayer Diary on my blog each morning, I am reflecting in these ways:

1, Short reflections on a psalm or psalms;

2, reading the psalm or psalms;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

‘Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths’ (Psalm 25: 4) … a path through fields off Cross in Hand Lane in Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Psalm 25:

In Psalm 25, the psalmist prays that God will show him his way (verses 4, 8 and 9) and his ‘paths’ (verses 4 and 10). He trusts in God (verse 2), and he hopes that God will deliver him from his personal enemies. May none who trust in God be shamed or be subject to treachery. Instead, those who follow God’s ways will be saved (verse 6).

The psalmist trusts that God will forgive his sins through his mercy and love.He prays that God may remember his present fidelity rather than his youthful deviances (verse 7). God instructs sinners (verse 8), and he leads and teaches the humble and those who respect him (verse 9).

‘Lord, I love the house in which you dwell and the place where your glory abides’ (Psalm 26: 8) … inside Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Psalm 26:

In Psalm 26, the psalmist seeks delivery from his antagonists. He has lived with integrity, in a godly way, and he has trusted in God constantly. He protests his innocence in e negative way by listing those things he has not done, proclaiming this before the altar of God.

He prays for help and for deliverance from his ungodly enemies, but vows to continue to ‘live with integrity’ (verse 11), honouring God in public worship.

‘One thing have I asked of the Lord … to behold the fair beauty of the Lord and to seek his will in his temple’ (Psalm 27: 4-5) … the dome inside a church in Panormos, near Rethymnon in Crete (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Psalm 27:

The former Chief Rabbi, the late Lord (Jonathan) Sacks, describes Psalm 27 as ‘a magnificent expression of trust in God’s protection and unfailing love.’

An early Midrash (Leviticus Rabbah 21: 4) relates this psalm to the festivals of Tishri: ‘The Lord is my light – on Rosh Hashanah, and my salvation – on Yom Kippur.’ The phrase ‘For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble’ or (verse 5) or ‘he will keep me safe in His pavilion [beSukkoh]’ suggests Sukkot. So, this psalm was adopted as a prayer for the penitential period up to and including these holy days, beginning on Rosh Chodesh Ellul.

In Psalm 27, the psalmist sees God as his light, his salvation, his strength and his life, driving away all his fears.

His true desire is to worship God in the Temple for as long as he lives, and to ‘behold the fair beauty’ of God, to seek God’s will.

He seeks to see God’s face, praying that God will not hide from him, leave him, or forsake him.

Psalm 25 (NRSVA):

Of David.

1 To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
2 O my God, in you I trust;
do not let me be put to shame;
do not let my enemies exult over me.
3 Do not let those who wait for you be put to shame;
let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

4 Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
teach me your paths.
5 Lead me in your truth, and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all day long.

6 Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and of your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old.
7 Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
according to your steadfast love remember me,
for your goodness’ sake, O Lord!

8 Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
9 He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.
10 All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.

11 For your name’s sake, O Lord,
pardon my guilt, for it is great.
12 Who are they that fear the Lord?
He will teach them the way that they should choose.

13 They will abide in prosperity,
and their children shall possess the land.
14 The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him,
and he makes his covenant known to them.
15 My eyes are ever towards the Lord,
for he will pluck my feet out of the net.

16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 Relieve the troubles of my heart,
and bring me out of my distress.
18 Consider my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins.

19 Consider how many are my foes,
and with what violent hatred they hate me.
20 O guard my life, and deliver me;
do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
21 May integrity and uprightness preserve me,
for I wait for you.

22 Redeem Israel, O God,
out of all its troubles.

Psalm 26 (NRSVA):

Of David.
1 Vindicate me, O Lord,
for I have walked in my integrity,
and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.
2 Prove me, O Lord, and try me;
test my heart and mind.
3 For your steadfast love is before my eyes,
and I walk in faithfulness to you.

4 I do not sit with the worthless,
nor do I consort with hypocrites;
5 I hate the company of evildoers,
and will not sit with the wicked.

6 I wash my hands in innocence,
and go around your altar, O Lord,
7 singing aloud a song of thanksgiving,
and telling all your wondrous deeds.

8 O Lord, I love the house in which you dwell,
and the place where your glory abides.
9 Do not sweep me away with sinners,
nor my life with the bloodthirsty,
10 those in whose hands are evil devices,
and whose right hands are full of bribes.

11 But as for me, I walk in my integrity;
redeem me, and be gracious to me.
12 My foot stands on level ground;
in the great congregation I will bless the Lord.

Psalm 27 (NRSVA):

Of David.

1 The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?

2 When evildoers assail me
to devour my flesh—
my adversaries and foes—
they shall stumble and fall.

3 Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war rise up against me,
yet I will be confident.

4 One thing I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
to live in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the Lord
and to inquire in his temple.
5 For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will set me high on a rock.

6 Now my head is lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

7 Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud,
be gracious to me and answer me!
8 ‘Come,’ my heart says, ‘seek his face!’
Your face, Lord, do I seek.
9 Do not hide your face from me.

Do not turn your servant away in anger,
you who have been my help.
Do not cast me off, do not forsake me,
O God of my salvation!
10 If my father and mother forsake me,
the Lord will take me up.

11 Teach me your way, O Lord,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
12 Do not give me up to the will of my adversaries,
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they are breathing out violence.

13 I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!

Today’s Prayer:

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary this morning (10 March 2022) invites us to pray:

Let us pray for the Igreja Anglicana de Mocambique e Angola (the Anglican Church of Mozambique and Angola), which is the Anglican Communion’s newest province.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

‘He will conceal me under the cover of his tent’ (Psalm 27: 5) … (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org