St Patrick’s Church
St Patrick’s Church of Ireland was the first place of worship in Greystones, although there had been from early times a chapel in Rathdown, about half a mile away. The original part of the edifice was erected in 1857 on a site presented by the La Touche family of Bellevue, Delgany, who also bore a large share of the construction cost. But the building, for want of an endowment to support a rector, remained unconsecrated until 1864. It was with the extension of the railway line to Greystones that the population of the area began to increase. St Patrick’s had to be extended in 1875, in 1888 and again in 1898. Greystones was now a separate parish, independent of Delgany, of which it had been a part.
A building such as this becomes a church only when worshippers frequent it. One family who worshipped here just over a hundred years ago and whose descendants are still here was that of the Doyles. The bodies of John, William and Herbert Doyle, all three of them belonging to the one family, were received here by the then rector. They were drowned in the harbour during a storm on Friday night, 14 October 1892, while on an errand of mercy.
A former rector, Rev Edward Moore, who became bishop of Kilmore, and his wife, retired to Kilcoole but still worshipped here. Mrs Moore, who died in 1997, was the last surviving daughter of Canon George Digby Scott, rector of Bray. His history, The stones of Bray (1913) has never been superseded. Mrs Moore’s great-grandfather was Rev William Cleaver, rector of Delgany. His son, Rev Euseby Digby Cleaver, born in Delgany, was a Gaelic enthusiast and first vice-president of the Gaelic League in 1893.
Another Greystones rector, Rev Edward Daunt, who died in 1928, laboured here for forty-six years. Described as ‘a man of great brotherliness and evangelical spirit’, he gave the Presbyterian congregation the use of the schoolhouse in 1885 while their meeting-house was at no more than planning stage. Just over a century later, Rev Edgar Swann gave the Presbyterians the use of the church each Lord’s Day for several weeks while their own place of worship was being refurbished.
Hillside Evangelical Church
Hillside Evangelical Church is a modern place of worship joined onto an edifice dating from the early years of the nineteenth century. The Christian Brethren were originally known as Plymouth Brethren or Darbyites, after John Nelson Darby (1800-1882), who served as curate of Calary, Co Wicklow until doubts about the scriptural nature of church establishments caused him to demit his charge.
Darby became acquainted with Anthony Norris Groves (1795-1853), who was then in the act of founding a worshipping society called ‘The Brethren’, whose tenets were based on the rejection of all ecclesiastical forms and denominational distinctions. Darby joined with Groves and others in the movement, and in 1828 issued his first pamphlet, The nature and unity of the church of Christ, and to promulgate the Brethren’s views visited Paris, Cambridge and Oxford, proceeding thence to Plymouth: from this circumstance seems to have derived the name ‘Plymouth Brethren’.
The Brethren were established in Greystones in 1905. A small group at the outset, they built Ebenezer Hall by their own labours in 1907. It served as the Brethren’s place of worship until December 1984 when the new HillsideEvangelicalChurch was opened.
Very much to the fore in the coming of the Brethren to Greystones was Charles Louis Matheson of Nirvana, Greystones, who became Recorder of Belfast, a near relation of Cherrie Matheson, one-time sweetheart of John Millington Synge. The young people met in Greystones where Synge spent much of his childhood and adolescence, but parted because of Synge’s youthful agnosticism.
Church of the Holy Rosary
The Church of the Holy Rosary on La Touche Road is the Catholic parish church. Consecrated in 1908 or 1909, it was built to replace a temporary galvanised iron structure which was destroyed during a storm on 26 February 1903.
The loss of their temporary place of worship was the second blow suffered by the small Catholic population of Greystones at the beginning of the last century. Their priest, Rev Arthur Moore, had died exactly five months before the storm. There is a wall plaque to Rev Moore’s memory (the only such plaque in the church) on the right-hand side as you proceed up the main aisle.
An outstanding feature of this church is its two stained-glass windows by Evie Hone (1894-1955). These windows were completed in 1948 and their subjects are ‘The good shepherd’ and ‘Our Lady of the Rosary’, the latter relating to the naval battle of Lepanto fought on 7 October 1571 with a papal contingent taking part.
This edifice originally had a spire, but a local builder removed it. In the grounds of the church is the fine parochial house said to date from 1886. Also in the grounds, on the south side of the church and completed in 1999, is the Killian House Family Centre.
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