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1837 – St Paul’s Church, Arran Quay, Dublin

Architect: Patrick Byrne

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St Paul’s dates from 1835-37, was designed by Patrick Byrne, and is one of the most prominent buildings on the city quays. Patrick Byrne was a prominent church architect of the time and was also responsible for St Audoen’s on nearby High Street. A fine portico with four Ionic columns fronts the church to the river in a very prominent site, especially for a catholic church which were usually sited on quieter back streets. The tower was completed in 1843 and gives the church a visibility along the quays except from the east where it is blocked by the dome of the Four Courts. The statues were added in 1870. It is currently closed to the public after a decline in numbers living in the parish.

The strong design has three large doors, of which the centre and largest leads to the church proper, which the other two leading to fine toplit stairwells which go to the balcony level. Recently railings have been added between the columns to prevent vandalism, but our photograph predates their addition. The portico is topped by three statues.

Inside the main door is a large entrance hallway with a mosaic floor and a further internal wooden porch under the balcony. This leads to the main body of the church.

On entering the church, the height of the ceiling is obscured until you emerge out, around a third of the length of the church from the door, from under the organ balcony. Then your eye is drawn immediately to the altar and the large mural behind it. The gently curving apse behind the altar is top lit by an unseen skylight which bathes the altar in light.

The curved ceiling is quite decorative without going overboard and looks most impressive when seen from the back of the organ balcony when the curve can be appreciated.

The side walls of the church have large round headed windows interspaced with simple philasters. The windows to the left and right of the altar have glass with a figurative design, while the others have a more simple geometric pattern.

Like many churches in Ireland, the original altar fittings and railings have been removed in line with Vatican II guidelines. With their absence, the area seems empty, but this also serves to attract the eye to the marble altar in the centre. The interior still has good wooden confessionals and traditional stations of the cross, along with various other statues and shrines underneath the balcony.