Since 1843, St. Patrick’s Church has dominated the granite outcrop above Bulloch Harbour, a great landmark in the surrounding area. In 1836 a need was felt to build a church for the growing population of Dalkey, Bulloch and Sandycove. Initially known as Dalkey Episcopal Chapel of Ease, within the Parish of Monkstown, it later became Dalkey Episcopal Church. The date of dedication to our Patron, St. Patrick, is uncertain.
Numerous sites were examined, and finally the present site, which was offered free by the Ballast Board of Dublin Port (now Dublin Port Company) on land where they quarried stone to be shipped from Bulloch Harbour. Access was from the private Ballast Office Road (now Harbour Road). The consent of the Archbishop of Dublin for the building of the church was then obtained. In 1839 Jacob Owen won the design contract for a plan with 500 seats on the ground floor and 168 in the gallery, estimated cost £1600. After some further delay the building of the church by a Mr. Hickey began, with the Foundation Stone laid on 24th June 1840. Meanwhile, services were held in a temporary church on Mr. Porter’s land.
The church was completed in 1843 and the sermon at the opening service was preached by Richard Whately, Archbishop of Dublin, on Sunday, March 5th, of that year. It is unclear if the West (rear) and North Transept galleries were included in the original, or added soon afterwards, as it was always planned to increase the seating capacity later. However in 1853 it was decided to enlarge even further, and plans by Joseph Welland, Architect to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, were accepted at an estimated cost of £315. This added a South Transept gallery and access stairway, a small organ loft on the north side wall adjoining an enlarged West gallery, a new central three-decker pulpit, reader’s desk and Holy Table behind a curved communion rail, and a robing room on the ground where the chancel now stands.
In 1879 several structural alterations were made to the church. At that time there was no chancel of any kind, with the old-fashioned three-decker wooden pulpit and straight-back box pews. The alterations comprised the addition of the present chancel, vestry room, organ chamber, and the re-pewing and redecorating of the entire church. These were to the design of Edward Carson, Architect, father of Sir Edward Carson. This work was completed in about ten months, during which the church was closed, re-opening on Sunday, December 14, 1879.
The only music supplied previously was from an old organ built into one of the side walls in the West Gallery. This instrument possessed twelve hymn and psalm tunes arranged on cylinders, which were reverently ground out Sunday after Sunday for some years. Mr. Charles Leslie, one of the best friends the Parish ever had, tired of listening to this primitive form of music, and presented an organ. This was replaced in the year 1885 by a new organ purchased from Foster and Andrews of Hull, which is still in use in the church. The smaller bell which rings immediately before the service had been given by Mr. Charles Leslie when the Church was built.
In 1870 the same Charles Leslie presented the church with the very attractive cut stone Sexton’s Lodge and School House, built at his sole expense of over £1,000, to the design of Edward H. Carson. Mr. Leslie died in 1879, and a tablet was erected to his memory, which stands over the present reading desk. The beautiful pulpit and reading desk of polished marble and caenstone were erected in grateful memory of what he had done for the Parish - the pulpit by the parishioners and the prayer desk by the members of his family.
Charles Leslie had always hoped that a larger Parochial Hall would be built, and around 1883 a major extension was added to the School building which is still the fabric of the present main hall. It had a separate external entrance porch which was removed in the 1964 development. This added a new entrance foyer, smaller upstairs hall, office, kitchen, toilets and central heating. In 1999 the whole complex was totally upgraded and extended, and a new school building added, with an upper level covered link to the Church. The Architect was David Jordan, and his modern design harmonises well with the older buildings on the site.
The Northover Bequest was a major source of finance for this project, which enables the Parish to offer facilities to a wide spectrum of community organisations, and provides a very real and concrete link between the church itself and the school and parish buildings and activities. The character of the Northover Hall owes much to the original roof timbers of both school structures which are still in place, despite several temporary interventions with sliding partitions and even a suspended ceiling for some 35 years!
In the early 1890’s the very attractive pink and green tinted glazing appears to have been installed in any the tall slender gothic windows which did not already have stained glass.
In 1955/56 wet and dry rot were detected throughout the church and the roof, windows and three galleries were removed. Only the West (rear) gallery was replaced, re-inforced to accommodate all Castle Park boarding pupils at Sunday Morning Service. The robed School boys’ choir sat at the front of church. The pulpit was moved aside nearer to the organ to improve the view, and the prayer desk was turned sideways instead of facing the congregation.
Following some years’ work to eliminate damp in the church due to problems with roof flashings and gutters, a major refurbishment of the tower took place with the fitting of new cedar louvres to the belfry. The West window was reframed in teak to replace rotten softwood. Then in 2010 it was felt that the building was dry and could be totally redecorated and recarpeted. Services were moved to the Northover Hall for two months and the work was completed in September.
Originally the church was under the management of Trustees, who appointed the Incumbent and had charge of church endowments. At a meeting of the Trustees on 22nd October 1909, the Bishop of Clogher, Maurice Day, proposed a resolution, which passed unanimously, "That the time has now arrived when the Dalkey Church Fund should be transferred to the Representative Church Body in accordance with the Act of Parliament enabling them to do so." The Select Vestry agreed, and the Dalkey Church Trust and property were handed over to the Representative Church Body. Under the Diocesan Scheme the R.C.B. now holds the endowment Fund in trust for Dalkey Parish. The church, school, rectory and land are vested in the R.C.B., and the election of future Incumbents will rest in accordance with the Statutes of the Church of Ireland.
On the walls of the church are many memorials to those who loved and worshipped in St. Patrick’s. In addition to the one mentioned before to Charles Leslie, there is one to the Rev. W.H. Kerr, who was rector of the Parish for thirty-seven years, and one to Ivaniona, wife of Capt. Leslie Peacocke. The Peacocke’s were great supporters of the church in early days, and the East window is erected to the memory of the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Goodricke Peacocke. William Edward Porter, one of the first founders and trustees of the church, has a tablet erected to his memory, and beside it on the South wall is one to the memory of Harry Blake Knox, son of another of the original founders and trustees, Capt. Francis Blake Knox.
There are also tablets to two families who worshipped for over forty years in the church - Dr. Richard St. John Chinnery Lyon and his wife, and also Thomas Tighe Mecredy and his wife. There is also a tablet to the memory of the Hayes family, San Eimo, Dalkey, and one to Mary Webster, the faithful matron for many years to the boys of Castle Park School. The only other stained glass window, in addition to the one already mentioned, is erected to the memory of Mr. John Chancellor in the year 1890.
The very handsome brass eagle lectern was given by the Rev. Dr. Lucas, who was Assistant Curate for many years in the Parish, and Mrs. Lucas, in the memory of their daughter, Marion Moussin Lucas, who died when she was only twenty one years old. The beautiful stone arcading around the East End was placed there as a War Memorial to those who fell in the Great War, 1914 to 1918. The Baptistry was also made in recent years, and the handsome brass ewer for use at baptisms was presented by Mrs. L’Estrange in memory of her husband, Edmund L’Estrange, a good friend to the church and a faithful Hon. Secretary to the Select Vestry for many years. The beautiful altar and pulpit frontals were gifts of Miss Bell, who formerly resided at Prince Patrick, Dalkey, Mrs. Powell and Mrs. Barlee.
The Credence Table was presented by Mrs. King-Walker, of Bray, on which stands the handsome brass alms dish presented by Mr. S.A. Quan-Smith on the Coronation of His Majesty King George V, June 22, 1911. Another Parochial Nominator and Synodsman, LieuL-Col. Siberry, presented the brass lining for the Font. Many other gifts have also been presented to the church. So for 168 years the church has continued to be beautified by gifts from faithful and devoted friends.