Donnybrook Church turns 150

Donnybrook Church: Pic by Kevin O' Gorman.

Donnybrook Church: Pic by Kevin O’ Gorman.

The Church of The Sacred Heart, nestled in Donnybrook, turns 150 years old this August. The momentous occasion will be marked by a series of events.

NewsFour met with historian and the chairman of the sesquicentenary committee John Holohan to speak about the forthcoming celebrations. Holohan told us that: “The committee has been busy making preparations and is very much looking forward to a weekend of celebrations.”

The festivities will kick off on Friday August 26th with a Mass by Principal Celebrant Archbishop Diarmuid Martin. On Saturday the 27th there will be a family fun event in Herbert Park. On Sunday morning at 10:30 there will be a Family Mass with the 12 noon Mass celebrated by Kevin Doran.

Sunday afternoon sees a journey through Christian Donnybrook, a historical walkabout led by Holohan, which will be followed by some light refreshments at the church.

There will also be a photographic display of memorabilia of church events since the opening. With the sesquicentenary celebrations and the renovation project it will certainly be a busy time at The Church of the Sacred Heart.

Holohan says that the church is “a centre for community activity”. It not only serves the Christian community in Donnybrook but also provides a space for a number of social groups that use the church’s facilities. As such “a major programme to restore and renovate the church and build a new parish centre is being planned.”

It is hoped that construction on the new centre will begin early in 2017, with renovation and upgrading of the church commencing soon after.

NewsFour spoke to Monsignor Fergal O’Brien who is the local parish priest of Donnybrook. He is proud of the strong religious ties of the community. Notably, the number of baptisms has doubled between 2014 and 2015. The Monsignor emphasised that there is a real “identity with the place,” which is “highly residential.” Indeed, there is a great activism associated with the local Donnybrook parish which has many programs that support the local community such as Donnybrook Active Retirement group, Donnybrook Neighbours, the parish choir and the parish shop.

One individual who embodies this spirit of cooperation between faith and community is Esther McGrath, who is highly involved in the area as a member of the parish council as well as through her work with the elderly. O’Brien describes Esther McGrath (who featured in an article of ours a couple of years ago) as a local “angel.”

Over the last 12 years McGrath has gone out of her way to support the elderly. Earlier in the year she had hosted a Valentine’s ball for the elderly that was held in the local community centre. McGrath noticed the elderly could be lonely and felt it was important to give them a quality of life. They have drop-in clinics from 3-8pm for the elderly, who would “sometimes talk to you for hours,” noted McGrath.

McGrath constantly seems to be very busy. She informs NewFour that she visits the elderly because they live alone and she was concerned when she saw the cuts made to carers’ hours.

Recently there was a Romantic Dance in Pembroke Cottage, Ranelagh for the elderly. They are not forgotten or neglected and can have a sense of community and friendship with events such as these. For McGrath, it’s about giving them a quality of life.

Recently McGrath won the Dublin City Council Good Citizens award in the age-friendly category, in which there were over 300 applicants in total nominated for the various categories. She said of her medal: “I’m honoured but I enjoy the work just as much. It’s nice to be recognised but you don’t have to get an award to be recognised.”

With all the upcoming and past events and community supports based around Donnybrook parish, NewsFour was struck by how close-knit this Christian community is and how well supported by its local Church it is.

By Marguerite Reilly and Kevin MacSharry