St. Matthew’s and St. Marys Anglican, Episcopal Parish of Donnybrook & Irishtown


St. Matthew’s Church in Irishtown has long played an active role in the Irishtown community. Erected between 1704-06; with a tower added later in 1713, it was at one stage called the Royal Chapel of St. Matthew until 1871 when the Church of Ireland became an independent church.

It was used a lot by Protestant seafarers and fishermen at the time and the distinctive tower was used as a navigation point by sailors coming into Dublin as it was easily visible on the shore line. At the time the Church of Ireland used the church to do a lot of social work and provide employment for the people of Ringsend and Irishtown when they were two of the poorest parts of the Dublin suburbs.

Inside the church you can see a memorial beside the altar dedicated to those who lost their lives in World War I fighting for God and liberty. The 36 men named include eight members of the 17th Company Boys Brigade, which was based in St Matthew’s.

Rev. Canon E.G Ardis, known locally as the Rev. Ted has been stationed at the church now for nine years. I ask him what the Church of Ireland is currently doing around the Dublin 4 community. He said one of the things he was exceptionally proud of was the primary school in Cranfield Place, just 200 metres from the church. It is the main part of the Church of Ireland’s service in the community. It has a Church of Ireland ethos but it is by no means confined to members of the church. It’s been serving the parish area since 1832.

Another part of the parish he feels is doing really well is the Donnybrook Scouts organisation which goes back over a hundred years. They have now added a new Venturers company- a style of scouting with an outdoor bent, to their ranks which they didn’t have before.

Most days’ Rev. Ted visits the local nursing and retirement homes in the Dublin 4 area. But the biggest part of Rev. Ted’s parish’s mission is to work as a Chaplin in St. Vincent’s University Hospital and St. Vincent’s Private Hospital. Five days a week he visits people from the Church of Ireland, Church of England and Anglican people. Generally these people have been through life changing situations or critical situations. He considers these people heroes due to the strength they show during a very difficult time. His connection with the two hospitals has led Rev. Ted to meet with a lot of staff from a place called Kerala in South India who are a particular group of the Syriac Orthodox Church called Knanaites. They originated from Jewish Christians from East Syria and were led by the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch who migrated to India around the time St. Patrick came to Ireland. They are all over Ireland, mostly working as nurses. And over the past three years Rev. Ted has opened the doors of St. Matthew’s sister church in Donnybrook, St. Mary’s, for them to use once a month to meet and worship.

By Jason McDonnell