Corpus Christi Parish Drumconrdra – History

(Source: Booklet to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the Parish 1941-1991)

The Catholic Revival – Leading to the creation of Corpus Christi Parish.

With the Reformation, Catholics had lost their churches and their parochial organisation. Their religion having been proscribed and their clergy outlawed, they went underground in the observance of their religious duties. Masses were secretly celebrated in people’s houses.

With the Counter-Reformation in the 17th century, efforts were made to establish a new parochial system. Accordingly, a Synod of Leinster was convened in Kilkenny in 1618. New parishes were formed by grouping several of the old, mediaeval parishes into one united parish or union. Thus, the new parish of Clontarf comprised eight of the forty-odd parishes of Fingal. They were Clontarf, Raheny, Coolock, Clonturk, Santry, Glasnevin, Killester and Artane. Artane became the first Mass-centre of the reconstituted parish of Clontarf. Mass was celebrated in the safe shelter of the Castle of the Hollywood family.

The first public Chapel was erected at Coolock , shortly before 1690. The site was chosen as being the most central in the parish, and for many years it was the only Chapel. Chapels were erected at Ballymun (1750), Clontarf (1825), and Fairview (1834). In 1838 the new Church of Saint John the Baptist was opened in Clontarf. In 1855 the Church of the Visitation Fairview was opened. In 1879 the parish was divided along the line of Malahide Rd into the parishes of Clontarf and Fairview, the latter compromising Drumcondra, Glasnevin, Santry, and Artane.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the population of the general Drumcondra area had increased so much that a new parish was contemplated. Accordingly, in 1902, and the parish of Saint Columba was established. It compromised Lower and Upper Drumcondra, west of Drumcondra Rd., and North as far as Whitehall. It also included Glasnevin which, at that date, contained the only place of worship in the new parish. This was the small wooden Chapel which was erected in 1884. This Chapel was immediately enlarged and preparations were made for the building of a new parish church. On August the 7th 1903. the foundation stone was laid and the new St. Columba’s Church, Iona Rd., was consecrated in 1905.

Further parochial subdivision was imperative and in 1912, the new parish of Glasnevin was formed by his Grace, the Most Rev. Dr. Walsh. There were then two churches in the parish, St. Pappin’s and the Church of the Seven Dolours. This parish comprised Glasnevin, Ballymun and Upper Drumcondra. The main Dublin-Belfast Rd formed a definitive boundary between the parish of Glasnevin and the parish of Fairview. St. Pappin’s catered for the northern part of the parish and the wooden Chapel for the southern end. Gradually housing development began on the eastern portion of the parish.

The Temporary Church 1924-1941

The residents were far from a church and so Canon Dudley, who had inherited a large sum of money, immediately donated £10,000 for the erection of a temporary church. Canon Dudley was an outstanding priest and is remembered with genuine affection by older residents. He had time to greet and listen to everyone. His parish and priestly work were his priority, and he gave of himself and his possessions to those around him. He had already contributed large sums of money to the wooden Chapel in Glasnevin, and he now looked forward to the day when he would see a permanent church on the Home Farm Rd site. Sadly, he died in 1932 before the plans could be made. The former altar rails of Corpus Christi Church are dedicated to his memory.

Meanwhile, through his generosity, the famous red tin church was erected on grounds on Home Farm Rd once owned by the Eustace family. Wooden entrance gates were erected beside No. 49 and a concrete curved path led to the church. The stations of the cross, donated by parishioners and so much admired in our present church, adorned the walls. The Chapel was blessed by Archbishop Byrne on the 6th of July 1924. It had accommodation for 600 people, and this was sufficient for the 400 families residing in the parish.

Two priests were allocated to the church; Rev Bertie O’Connell, the liturgist of the day, and the Rev Jack Bourke, who later went to India as a missionary and became an Archbishop. Rev Bertie O’Connell wrote a book called how to serve mass – a little book for priests and altar servers, in which he set out the highest standards for those who serve at the altar. This little blue book explained in detail the requirements needed for the various church ceremonies. The commitment to church duties by Fr O’Connell’s altar boys was outstanding. Many of them later became priests, and it is also of interest to recall that some of them were chosen to assist on the high altar at the Eucharistic Congress ceremonies held in the Phoenix Park in 1932.

There was no Parochial school until 1931, so Sunday school was set up in the church. Two Holy Faith sisters prepared children for the sacraments. The population had expanded considerably by this time. Families were big. The church was always full for the 9:00 a.m. children’s Mass on Sunday. Men, women, boys, and girls, each had a confraternity which met once a month. The church was divided into sections, each section bearing a saint’s name, and one normally went to confession and Holy Communion on the weekend of the confraternity meeting. Older residents will recall the excellent attendances. Father O’Connell trained the altar boys who had to be 15 years of age to be accepted. Each week one altar boy was given the key, and he was responsible for opening the church on time in the mornings and fulfilling other necessary functions. In those early days there was no sacristan.

Corpus Christi Girls National School was completed in 1931, and cost £18,000. The Government grant was £12,000. Father Kearney, a popular curate who served in the parish for some years, and the Holy Faith sisters, donated £4,000 and this left a debt of £2,000 for the parish. The school was staffed by the Holy Faith sisters who at that time travelled over daily from their convent in Glasnevin. Sister de Chantel was appointed principal, a post she held for 20 years.


Plans for a new church

Following the death of Canon Dudley in 1932, Fr. Denis Joseph Dwyer was appointed parish priest in July of that same year. He formed a fundraising committee to clear the debt on the school and then to raise funds to erect the permanent Church of Corpus Christi. The site originally selected was the Dublin Health Authority land on Ballymun Rd., where St Michael’s House is now situated, but as this was too near Our Lady of Dolours church, known as the Woodener, the present site on Home Farm Road / Griffith Ave., was selected. As the population of the area was predicted to rise to 8,000 by 1937, a very large church was considered to be necessary.

Prior to the building of the church, Fr. Dwyer had meetings with the parishioners on the site during which he explained his plans and designs. He asked for their opinions on the type of materials which should be used. Great emphasis was laid on the use of Irish materials where possible. There was a need for an entrance from Griffith Ave., as well as Home Farm Rd. Accordingly, the church authorities handed over one acre of land along with £100, in exchange for a plot of approximately 3 acres to the North of the temporary tin church.

A point of difference arose over the direction the church should face. Griffith Ave residents felt that it should face onto Griffith Ave., but much to the delight of the residents in Ferguson and adjoining roads (The Triangle), the parish priest pronounced that the church had to face Rome (towards Home Farm Rd.) A diplomatic decision, no doubt.

The fundraising was carried out by a most dedicated team, and for several years there were house to house weekly collections, nationwide raffles, and of course the carnivals held in May and June each summer from 1937 to 1942. They were held in the field behind the Garda Barracks where Whitehall House school now stands. These carnivals were memorable events in the life of the parish. Everybody was involved. Apart from the usual amusements, there were stalls selling all kinds of handiwork on which the ladies of the parish worked diligently. Dances were held in a marquee and many marriages in the parish had their beginnings in romances that started there.

Of the very many dedicated people who had the task of doing the house to house weekly collections, the following is one girl’s impressions of that task. Anne O’Byrne, now a Holy Faith sister, and her elder sisters went on these house to house collections. Ballymun Rd. as far North as St. Pappin’s, was part of Glasnevin parish when talk of Corpus Christi church as a possibility began, Anne says. She did The Rise and St. Mobhi Rd., and she brought the offerings to Canon Dwyer who resided on Ballymun Rd. He received his number one collector with great affability, but it was the children who admitted her to the houses on her beat that took her fancy. At the home of the McCanns, a tiny tot called Anne Cailín An t-seipeal, while at John D Sheridan’s, she was known as the Chapel girl. There was always fun at John Ds and Anne gave tit for tat to the man of letters. Most of the collected money was counted at Corpus Christi school on Sundays and the Canon invariably blew in to show his appreciation of the excellent work done sold faithfully by the collectors.

In a personal account of the fund raising committees and their hard work, the late Mrs. Jo Williams of Millmount Ave. said that once the committees were formed, the entire Drumcondra community became involved and fund raising became a nationwide effort with raffles and events.

The opening event was held in the Aberdeen Hall of the Gresham hotel and was an ‘International Fancy Dress Ball’. The ball became an annual event, but the second year it was not a fancy-dress affair. However, three friends made a mistake and arrived all decked out in their unusual costumes. One girl had turned herself into a bunch of Flowers labeled Lilac time. The second came as Mrs. McMop complete with bucket mop and wrinkled stockings, while the third had spent a small fortune on song sheets which she had anchored to her person to become the Leo Maguire / Walton slogan: if you feel like singing, do sing an Irish song.

Una Sheridan takes up the tale: ‘the dance committee was astonished to see the three fancy dressed ladies, who in turn were astonished at the committee’s astonishment. For a short while the two sides goggled at each other across the dance floor. Eventually the committee pulled itself together and sent an envoy to congratulate the girls on being such good sports and presented them with a quarter pound box of chocolates’.

Mrs. Williams recalls that her husband Jack was involved in the dance and carnival committees; ‘home from work in the evenings, Jack would rush his tea and disappear for the rest of the night to the carnival grounds. The children hardly ever saw their father during the summer carnival times. At the end of each carnival season, the organizing committees and anyone involved in the fund raising would be invited to a final dance in the marquee’.

Maureen, Jo’s daughter, went with her dad as Jo had to stay at home with the younger children. Maureen would tell her about the great night and how they had loads of delicious sandwiches and tea. The band played until the small hours of the morning. There was not even a whiff of alcohol at these functions. Jack Williams was one of the founding members of the local branch of the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association.

Mrs. Williams remembered; “The stalls in the carnivals were wonderful. They were packed with a great variety of prizes from tea cosies to sets of China, and from homemade cakes to Cadburys chocolates. Mrs. Fanning, also of Millmount Ave., was a tireless worker. Her entire family were all actively involved in her vocation to make as much money as possible for the new church. Mrs. Fanning was a great business lady. She had organized all the local shopkeepers to present many prizes. When she made a price for a particular item on her stall, then that was it!

Every year Mr. Fanning would bring his little donkey from Skerries to the carnival. Here the donkey would be available for children’s rides around the carnival grounds. His little donkey made a fortune on rides. On the last year of the carnival, Mr. Fanning decided he would raffle his donkey. Thousands and thousands of tickets were bought during the six weeks of the carnival run, and nobody ever considered just how they would care for the donkey should they win him. The great night came and Mr. Fanning was asked to pull the ticket from the box. Who should win the donkey but Mr. Fanning himself! Needless to say, another ticket was pulled out instead.

I will never forget the Sunday morning when Canon Dwyer announced from the altar that the debt of £83,000 had been paid. All the hard work and dedication had paid in the end. The efforts of the parishioners were handsomely rewarded”.


The New Church:

The Foundation Stone:

The first sod of the new church was turned on the 25th of September 1938 by Canon Dwyer, and the foundation stone was blessed by most Rev. Dr. Wall, Bishop of Thasos, on the 8th of October 1939.

It was the first church in Ireland to have the title of Corpus Christi, and it was to be a Chapel of Ease to Our Lady of Dolours church in Glasnevin. The cost was £83,000 and the debt was paid off by Christmas 1949. The house to house collections then ceased. It was the first church in the diocese to be opened and blessed by Archbishop John Charles McQuaid and the ceremony took place on the 25th of May 1941. The old church was dismantled and removed to Larkhill, another part of the parish at that time, where it served until the parishioners built a new church,  the Church of the Holy Child.

The Opening:

The opening of the new Corpus Christi church was a memorable occasion. Prior to the great day the daily newspapers printed details of the design and construction of the church, the age old ceremony of dedication, and most important of all, a list of arrangements for the people. They were as follows; 1. The men of the parish will assemble outside St. Patrick’s Training College, Drumcondra Rd., at 10:30 a.m.

  1. The women of parish will assemble in Home Farm Rd., at Drumcondra Rd. junction.
  2. His Grace would be met at Saint Patrick’s Training College, and the men will lead the procession to the new church. Members of the L.S.F., L.D.F., Catholic Girl Guides and Boy Scouts will be in attendance.
  3. The women will join the procession at Home Farm Rd immediately behind the Archbishop’s carriage. The procession will then proceed to Griffith Ave., and on reaching the church, the men will proceed to Valentia Rd.
  4. His Grace will enter Griffith Ave gate to perform the opening ceremony and blessing.
  5. No one shall enter the church until after the blessing.
  6. During the blessing the women will remain in the Avenue leading from Griffith Ave gate.
  7. After the blessing the men and women, still in processional order, will enter the church for Solemn High Mass.

Only the clergy were allowed inside the church for its consecration and the parishioners had to wait for the ceremony to be completed before entering for the opening Mass. Father Doyle’s problem was how to get his choir into the gallery intact and in time for the opening music of the Mass. His solution was to hide the choir in the gallery prior to the consecration of the church and pray that the Archbishop would not decide to bless the gallery!

Following the consecration of the church, there was a Solemn High Mass with the music of Sir Richard Terry’s Mass of Saint Cecilia, the proper of which was sung in plainchant by the church choir. Presiding at the high mass was the Archbishop, and the celebrant was the Right Rev. Monsignor P. Boylan, P.P., V.G., Dun Laoghaire, with the Rev. P. Bryan as Deacon, and the Rev. J,S, Barnard as Subdeacon, both of whom were CC’s in Glasnevin. Approximately 2000 people filled the spacious church, parishioners being joined by representatives of educational and religious institutions from many parts of the archdiocese.

In the opening sermon Father Sean McCarron concluded by commenting on the grave war situation of the time. “Today, the great nations had bent all their energies and enthusiasm to the trade of war, denying themselves even the very necessities of life that their guns might be more deadly”, he said. “There was much poverty in this country, yet the people of Corpus Christi had not grudged the church to God. The cause of the people was the cause of peace”.    

Regulating traffic in the vicinity of the church were members of the L.S.F. and L.D.F., who also formed a guard of honor for the Archbishop when he entered and as he left.


Design of the new church:

Described in the Irish Times as ‘a stately pile dominating the North city’, the church was designed in the shape of a Latin cross by the architects Messrs. Robinson and Keeffe, and was built by John Sisk and Co. and various subcontractors. The quantity surveyor was Francis D Shortle. It was designed with a Dome of 52 feet in diameter at the intersection of the nave and sanctuary with the transepts. The length of the church is 152 feet, the nave being 50 feet wide, which is extended to 100 feet measured across the transepts. It can accommodate 1,600 worshippers. The nave is covered with a barrel vault, the height of which from the floor is 56 feet. The Dome, the apex of which is 85 feet from the floor, is supported by 4 semi-circular arches, between which are representations of the four evangelists with attendant angels skillfully carved out in plaster.

The four stained glass windows, the work of Roisín Dowd A.N.C.A., Poulmounty Mill, New Ross, were presented by the Kerr family, the Seery family, and anonymous donors. The rest of the windows are clear leaded glass supplied by the Dublin Glass and Paint Co. Ltd.

The high altar, side altars, communion rail, pulpit, and baptismal font, together with the beautifully blended decorative marble of the chancel and side chapels, where the work of Earley and Co. Camden St., Dublin. All the magnificent brasswork in the church was the work of a local man Edward McCormack, (happily still alive in 1991 when these notes were written) who was the foreman of the brass foundry section of Messrs. Gills of O’Connell St.

Externally, the aspect is Romanesque with the remarkable features of the copper Dome and the belfry. The entrance from Home Farm Rd consists of twin arched doors deeply recessed. Otherwise the structure depends for its architectural merit on the simplicity of its design and the effective use of granite supplied by Patrick Donnelly, Ballyedmonduff, Sandyford, County Dublin.

The church grounds:

The landscaping and planting of the church grounds was the work of students from Albert College who had offered their services if the grounds could be used as a training area. To provide a certain privacy mature trees were planted throughout the grounds. When Albert College moved out, a grounds committee was formed. This did not prove practicable and the supervision of the grounds was contracted to a landscaping company.

In the 1940s and 50s, before the collection baskets, there was a 6 penny stipend for entering the front seats, and a three pence for those occupying the rear seats. Red ropes were connected from a seat at the partition to the sidewalls. These remained in place until the congregation approached the rails for communion and were replaced when communion was finished.

The first chief Stewart of Corpus Christi was Mr. George Parnell who had a large group of stewards and collectors under his control. Altar boys in 1941 included: Tom O’Dowda, Des Strickland, Jim Kelly, Tommy Caffrey, Patrick and Michael Reilly, Fr. Charlie Menton, Seamus Moore, and Dermot Aherne.

For many many years Mr. Portley from Joyce Rd, rung the Angelus Bell at 6:00p.m. everyday. The first marriage in the new church was that of Sean Kissane and Lucy Moran.


Choirs and Clubs:

During the period of the temporary church, Fr. Jimmy Doyle founded the famous boy’s choir of Corpus Christi. The choir was four-part, made up of boys aged 10 to 15 years, backed by adult males for the baseline. Terry O’Neill (formerly of O’Neachtain Rd.,) recalls that ‘singing in that choir was a serious matter. No one missed the many practices without a very good reason’. There were about 30 boys and men in the choir, and they sang at 4 o’clock Benediction every Sunday, and at all High Masses. They sang mostly Gregorian chant and were entered for many competitions where they swept all prizes before them.

Fr. Doyle’s dedication as choirmaster was equalled by that of the organist of that time – Miss Josephine Marshall – who was present for every practice and every performance. Between them they gave the boys a wonderful training in both singing and self-discipline, something which has stood them in good stead ever since.

Another feature of church life then was the Corpus Christi processions. Everybody turned out and the streets were decorated beautifully. They were often marathon occasions, the procession starting at Corpus Christi church, winding its way to the wooden Chapel in Glasnevin, and back to Corpus Christi with three benediction services on the way!

It was also during this period that Home Farm Football Club was founded. In the early 1920s a ‘Streets League’ was organized and run under the watchful eye of Leo Fitzmaurice, brother of Colonel James Fitzmaurice. Home Farm Rd., Whitehall, Drumcondra Rd., Richmond Rd., Botanic Ave., Hollybank Rd., and Ormond Rd., among other streets made up the teams for the Streets League. Their home ground was one of Mr. Butterly’s fields, formerly a rhubarb patch at the rear of Kilronan House, the home of the Farley family, now replaced by the Skylon Hotel. Home Farm Park, a development of some 48 houses, now occupies Mrs. Butterly’s field. As five of the Menton boys were on the local team, their house at 31 Home Farm Rd. was used as ‘a clubhouse’ as it was opposite the entrance to the playing field. In great distress, members of the Richmond Road team called one day at Mentons requesting to join the Home Farm Road team as their ball had burst and they could not afford to buy a replacement! Brendan Menton and the late Don Seery agreed to the amalgamation in 1928, and thus was born the Home Farm Football Club. The newly combined club was now stuck for suitable grounds for its expanding membership. The only fields nearby were those rented by Patrick Gerathy from Mr. Butterly. They were used by Mr. Gerathy to graze his cattle awaiting export to Britain, and the cattle were continually frightened by the footballers and the footballers in turn were continually frightened by Patrick Gerathy!

Their problem was finally solved when in 1928 Canon Dudley very generously gave them permission to use the ground North of the in church which bordered on Griffith Ave. This of course was merely a temporary arrangement until the new Corpus Christi church could be built.

Brendan Murphy describes what followed: “The task of levelling the ground was a mammoth one but not impossible for those dedicated young football warriors who attacked the very hilly and uneven ground with all the vigour of a military operation. Aided by great advice and encouraged by the entire community (especially Patrick Gerathy), the boys laid the first pitch of the Home Farm Football Club. From a raffle they raised 28 shillings / 140p and were able to buy some of their first club jerseys for the princely sum of one shilling / 6d (8p) each. Change of site meant change of dressing rooms so Brendan Murphy and his father, who were very enthusiastic supporters of the new project, invited the boys to use their garage at 58 Home Farm Rd as their dressing rooms.

The ‘temporary arrangement’ lasted until 1935 when the club was forced to move as building operations for the new church were soon to commence. Luckily, Dublin Corporation offered a letting of two small fields at the rear of the main house at Whitehall to the trustees of Home Farm AFC. The letting was for one year at £40 , with the Corporation paying the rates. The trustees were given the option to renew the letting for a further year ‘if the Corporation does not require the land for building purposes’. Needless to say, the club took up the option and continues to flourish on that same site today. Fr. Tom Menton, an early member of the Streets Leagues team, blessed a new modern pavilion on the Whitehall grounds in 1951. Dr. J.F. Dempsey has been president of the club for many years and Bishop James Kavanagh was  vice president. The late Don Seery was the Home Farm Club’s first honorary treasurer, a post he held from its foundation in 1928 until indifferent health forced him to resign during the 1980s. Doctor Brendan Menton became honorary secretary while still a student in 1928, and with an interruption until 1942 for undergraduate and postgraduate studies at learn at London University, with pride and achievement he is still at his Home Farm club desk in 1991.


Corpus Christi Priests:

Fr. Kearney, curate in the parish, formed a boy’s club in 1935. It was known as Whitehall boys club as it met in a nissan hut in one of the fields used by Home Farm Football Club. The club activity which became most popular was boxing. Mr. Madigan of Joyce Rd., who was a quartermaster Sergeant in the army, kindly offered to become trainer. Under his direction, the boys became very proficient and the club earned a big name in boys boxing circles. Dances were held in the club every week to help raise money. Fr. Kearney also organized a football roads league and this was a great success.

Fr. Jimmy Doyle and Fr. Kearney lived next door to each other in 25/27 Clare Rd. When Fr. Kearney was transferred to Dalkey, Canon Dwyer saw the possibility for a convent in the two houses. Fr. Doyle moved to number 15 and continued from there with his apostlate of church music and training of the altar boys. The Holy Faith sisters moved into the Clare Road houses, and from October through Christmas their evenings were enlivened by the practices in the church gallery as Fr. Doyle played the beautiful Hammond organ and the clear treble voices rang out the carols.

Canon Timothy Barry became the first parish priest when Corpus Christi became an independent parish in its own right on the 27th of March 1953. He had previously been chaplain to the Sisters of Charity, Mountjoy St. (1908), and to the O’Brien Institute Marino (1915). In 1925 he had been appointed C.C. in Dolphin’s Barn, and C.C. in South circular Rd in 1935. Prior to his appointment to Corpus Christi he had been P.P. of High Street from 1945 to 1953. On his arrival in the parish he bought a house ‘Hazeldene’ on Home Farm Rd on the corner of Home Farm Park. He died suddenly in 1955 while visiting the home of the late William T. Cosgrave, 1st President of the Executive Council.

Canon Edward Gallen was the successor to Canon Barry and he took over stewardship in 1955 fresh from the presidency of Clonliffe College. He had become a Canon of the Metropolitan chapter just four days previously. Born in 1902 in Balbriggan Co. Dublin, he was ordained to the priesthood in Rome in 1926. His appointments included; the chaplaincy of Lakelands convent in 1927, secretary Propagation of the Faith 1930, C.C. in St Agatha’s 1933, C.C. Pro-Cathedral 1934, Vice President and Professor of Moral Theology Clonliffe College 1945, President Clonliffe College 1952, and finally P.P. of Corpus Christi Drumcondra on the 21st of October 1955.

Canon Gallen took up residence in the same house as Canon Barry, but in 1957 he was requested by Archbishop McQuaid to build a parochial house in the grounds of Corpus Christi. This was intended to be a chapter House of the archdiocese. A few years later he undertook the building of a fine parochial hall at a cost of £38,622, the bulk of which came from a legacy of Canon Dwyer’s sister. Trees on Griffith Ave. were removed and the area adjacent to the church was concreted for parking purposes. Valencia Rd. was also widened to facilitate the parking of cars.

Many changes occurred quietly and unobtrusively in Canon Gallen’s pastoral period. The church had been lighted with hanging lights. In the centre of each cluster was a loudspeaker and the sound tended to reverberate from floor to ceiling. The lights were removed and placed in recesses in the ceiling. The central sanctuary lamp was replaced by the wall lamp to the right of the altar. After many efforts and failures, the present loudspeakers were installed and these have been more successful. The stippled walls and the baffles in the church help the acoustics. The rubberoid flooring and the padding under kneelers were great additions to the comfort of the congregation.

The holy water fonts at the entrance doors were originally chrome and screwed to the walls. They were replaced by stone cut granite fonts artistically incorporated into the existing structure. New railings placed at the side and centre of the main door were of great assistance to the ailing parishioners, as were the ramps at the rear doors. The short pews, which were formerly near the East and West doors, were brought to the front of the church to give a wider access to the sanctuary, and the longer seats from the front exchanged positions. The floor area under these seats at a lateral end is different from most of the rest of the floor.

In 1973 Canon Gallen became the Archdeacon of the diocese, but to his beloved parishioners he was always known as The Canon. In January 1983 a new organ, originally built by Peter Conacher & Co., and restored by Gerald A. Smith, Rathfarnham, was installed. This had previously been in the Methodist church, Charleston Rd., Rathmines, which had closed. Gerard Gillen entertained a very big Sunday afternoon congregation following the blessing of the organ by Archdeacon Gallen. The overall cost of the organ, following restoration, was £16,500.

Archdeacon Gallen retired in June 1984 but continued to live in the parish on Home Farm Rd. with the title of Pastor Emeritus. He continued to serve the parish faithfully saying mass and hearing confession until the 24th of June 1990, when to the great regret of everyone, he died unexpectedly.

Fr. Erill O’Connor (1984-1997) Fr. Erill O’Connor succeeded Canon Gallen in 1984 as parish priest of Corpus Christi. Fr. O’Connor brought several changes in the church and church grounds. The original planting of trees, which had become overgrown, were cut back, and replaced with young trees sited to enhance the view of the church. New storm windows were provided to preserve the leaded windows of the church, also making the church more comfortable. Further improvements were made to the interior and exterior lighting of the church. Christmas trees were provided both inside and outside the church. To mark the Golden Jubilee in 1991, the interior of the church was tastefully decorated, and the doors were draft proofed. Plans for the reordering of the sanctuary to comply with the modern liturgy were also well in hand at this stage.

The extensive church grounds are enhanced by the generous gift by some parishioners of the beautiful statue of Mary, Mother of the Redeemer. The plinth, surrounding garden bed and pathway, is the voluntary work of a few men who have great devotion to Mary. At the time approaching the Jubilee date in 1991, Fr. O’Connor invited parishioners to become involved in a variety of committees planning the celebrations, and to these committees he gave unstinted support.

The members of the history committee who were formed to mark the Jubilee of the parish in 1991 gave great praise to Fr. O’Connor for his support and encouragement. He had been the energizing force which had consistently and gently urged on the project, which came to fruition in the booklet and this recorded history. Father O’Connor gave the committee the benefit of his talents and the hospitality of his home. He very urgently recognized the various talents of individual committee members and gave each of them scope to use and develop their talents. It is due to Fr. O’ Connor that the work finally resulted in the completion of this history account of the parish and church.

Sacristan Joseph Maguire: Joe Maguire was sacristan at Corpus Christi from the opening of the church in 1941 until he retired in the early months of 1984. Joe was a native of Clonliffe Road and entered the Brotherhood of the Society of Jesus. Following his Novitiate he was sent to Rome for further training. At the outbreak of war he returned to Ireland. Sometime afterwards he changed direction of vocation and joined the Corpus Christi team as sacristan.

He carried out his duties with care, consideration and dedication, and with a professionalism which could hardly have been exceeded. It is with no small wonder that he was awarded the papal Bene Merenti  medal for his long services to the church and the people of the parish. The ceremony in the parochial Hall was attended by many priests who had served in Corpus Christi, including Most Rev. L Forristal, Bishop of Ossory, and hundreds of Joe’s parishioner friends.

In December 1998 Joe met his death in a road traffic accident on the Swords Rd. while walking home from Mass in Larkhill church. His successor was Eddie Clinton, a native of the parish who learned well from Joe and continued with the same dedication in his service of the church and parish.

As sacristans among those who succeeded were Denis Murphy , Maurice Bowles, Pat Bracken and Jim O’Connor.


Priests of the parish:

Priests of Corpus Christi parish from its constitution on the 27th of March 1953.

Very Reverend Tim Canon Barry PP 1953 to 1955

Very Archdeacon Edward Gallen PP 1955 to 1984

Very Reverend Erill D. O’ Connor PP 1984 to 1997

Reverend Seán O’ Lehane CC 1953 to 1954

Reverend William Lennon CC 1953 to 1963

Reverend George Finnegan CC 1953 to 1965

Reverend Brendan Lambe CC 1954 to 1955

Reverend Seán O’Cuiv CC 1955 to 1969

Reverend Raphael Clancy CC 1963 to 1971

Reverend John Dempsey CC 1965 to 1974

Reverend Patrick A. Walsh CC 1971 to 1979

Reverend John Lynch CC 1974 to 1985

Reverend Walter Harris CC 1979 to 1983

Reverend Cornelius Brennan CC 1983 to 1992

Reverend Joseph Whelan CC 1992 to 2002

Reverend Aidan Larkin CC 1985 to 1990

Reverend Michael Twomey CC 1990 to 1998

Very Reverend Jeremiah Threadgold PP  1997 to 2005

Very Reverend William King  PP  2005 to 2014

Right Reverend Martin O’Shea  Co – PP   2014  –



Parish chaplains and other assistant priests (in alphabetical order)

Reverend John P Battelle

Reverend John Boyers

Reverend Tim Collins

The Right Reverend John Dolan

Reverend  Martin Hogan

The Most Reverend Laurence Forristal

Reverend John Keegan

Reverend Heber McMahon

Reverend James A. McMahon

Reverend Donald O’Doherty

The Right Reverend Alex Stenson

Reverend Brian Wilkinson

The Most Reverend Desmond Williams



Reverend Eddie Carroll

Reverend Paul Ward


Historical Parish Activities up to Jubilee in 1991

Saint Vincent DePaul Conference

Saint Joseph’s Young Priests Society

Legion of Mary

Pioneers Total Abstinence Association


Church choirs and folk group

Senior citizens club

Meals on Wheels

Ladies club

ICA Guild

Corpus Christi musical and dramatic society

Venturers, Scouts and Clubs

Girl Guides and Brigíní


Planned Giving – family offering

Drumcondra Residents Association

Griffith Ave. residents Association

Courtlands residents Association

Apostolic workers

Parish church religious shop

Church floral arrangers

Church volunteer cleaners

Parish Hall committee


History Committee (who complied this historical information, and to whom we are deeply indebted)

Sr. M. Albert

Marie Cashman

Brendan Corcoran

Dr. Brian Daly

Andrew Gallagher

Connie Gannon

Sean Harrington

Eileen McCaul

Mary McCormack

Breda O’Connor

Terry O’Neill

Kathleen O’Reilly

Owen Sweeney

Fr. O’Connor P.P.