St. Brigid's Parish, Killester, Dublin,       Ireland


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 A Short History of Killester

Origin of the name Killester

    The meaning of the place-name Killester has often been disputed, and throughout the centuries it has been referred to by many spellings and indeed various pronunciations. Archbishop Laurence O’Toole referred to it as “Quillesra”, in the 12th century, and King John called it “Tudressa”. It has also been called “Kylestre”, “Kyllester” and “Xyllester”. The Irish name “Cill Easra” and its English interpretation seems to be the most logical meaning - “The Church of Esra”.

    This would infer that someone called Esra built the church or gave land for it. In the closing years of the Celtic age, and even during the years of Norse settlements in the city and county of Dublin, there was a church at Killester dedicated to St. Brigid. The first raid upon Dublin by the Norsemen came in the year 795, when they attacked the monastery on Lambay island, and during the next two centuries many incursions were made into the county. Before the beginning of the 10th century these raids had become invasions, and Dublin had become a Danish Kingdom ruled by Sitric the First. Later this kingdom stretched over the northern part of the county and even into Wicklow and Meath. In time the Norsemen had established important settlements at Waterford, Cork and Limerick.

    Although the increasing power of the invader had often been challenged by the Irish, the real confrontation did not take place until Brian Boru overthrew their authority in Munster and Malachy did likewise in Meath. The final decisive battle came in 1014, when Brian scored a historic victory over the enemy in neighbouring Clontarf and shattered their despotic rule in Ireland.
Twelve years previous to Clontarf, Brian Boru had permitted King Sitric the Fourth to retain his kingship of Dublin, purely for political and economic reasons. Sitric, like other settled Danes, did not take part in the battle. He had become Christian and had settled well into the life-style of the Irish. In 1038 he chose his friend Donat to be the first Bishop of Dublin. He gave him a site on the top of the hill of Dublin to build a Cathedral ... the place where his “Cathedra”, or the place where his Bishop’s throne should be.

    When St. Laurence O’Toole was elected by the people and clergy in 1162 to the high office of Archbishop of Dublin, he changed the constitution of Christ Church from that of a secular cathedral to that of a Priory of the Arroasian Order. Until that time the little chapel at Killester, dedicated to St. Brigid, was appendant to the monastery at Swords.. This institution had suffered greatly over the centuries from the marauding Norse and Irish raiders in their many combats, so it was considered prudent to transfer the dependency of the church to the Priory of the Holy Trinity (Christ Church).

Killester Church

     With the building of the houses on the lands of Killester in the 1920’s, a church became necessary for the spiritual needs of the new community.

    As Parish Priest of the combined parish, Father James McCarroll engaged the services of Messrs. Donnelly, Moore and Keatinge, Architects and Consulting Engineers, to provide plans for the new church. Two prospective sites were then selected for approval in June 1924. One of these was the present site and the other was immediately adjacent to the farmlands of Venetian Hall. The architect did not recommend the second site as it became very narrow as it neared the railway line, and also because there was a high and unsightly hay barn close by.

    Work on the church began in the second half of 1924 and the builder employed was J.J.Flanagan of Kyle House, Drumcondra. As the work neared completion, Fr. McCarroll wrote to the Archbishop’s secretary seeking confirmation of his suggested name for the church. He had a preference for having it dedicated to the Sacred Heart, but if this did not meet with the Archbishop’s approval, he would suggest St. Ita, foster mother of St. Brendan, the patron of Coolock church. As a footnote he added that the old parish church of Killester had St. Brigid as a Patroness. It is now obvious which suggestion met with the Archbishop’s approval!

    The completed project turned out to be a beautiful edifice in the Florentine style with a square pedimental bell tower. Its characteristics coupled with the pleasing appeal of its surroundings gave it a very attractive appearance.

    The church was consecrated by the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. Edward Byrne, on the 26th September 1926 in the presence of a large congregation.
With the large growth of housing developments in the 1940’s and 1950’s it became necessary to increase the length of the church . The well-known Dublin firm of architects Robinson. Keefe and Devane was retained to plan and supervise the project. The work was carried out by John Lambe, builder, of North Strand. The extension, which included a well balanced sanctuary, was blessed by Archbishop McQuaid on 27th July 1952.