History of Milltown Parish
Milltown became a parish in its own right in 1974. During the 20th century the Milltown landscape was transformed. It had formerly a separate village identity with several water powered mills and hostelries. The old Milltown gradually disappeared and its shops and small houses, together with streets running back to the Dodder were cleared to give open spaces and a new busy thoroughfare flanked by new houses and apartment blocks. Despite all the topographical changes Milltown parish church has remained intact on its original site.
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The detailed history of the church is as follows:
This chapel was originally a chapel-of -ease, with Harold’s Cross chapel, to the old parish of St. Nicholas in Francis-Street, and the priest had to make his way across the fields from Harold’s Cross to Milltown for his second mass. Up to 1819 mass was celebrated in Milltown in a private house on Sundays and holidays. It was the saintly Father Henry Young who induced a Mrs. Burke to grant him an old stable, on which was erected the first chapel.
It was originally dedicated (1819) by the parish priest of St. Nicholas’s to the Assumption of Our Lady, but when it was annexed to the parish of Rathgar (1882) its title was changed. As Rathgar church was dedicated to the Three Patrons, Patrick, Brighid and Colmcille, it was thought that two other principal Irish Saints should not remain unhonoured, and so the great European missionaries, SS. Gall and Columbanus, had their names added to the Title of the church.
St. Columbanus has been recently commemorated all over Europe, especially in France and Italy, as the greatest Irish missionary and civilizer of a semi-pagan Europe in the 6th and 7th centuries. St. Gall was the founder of the great monastery of St. Gall in Switzerland, and St. Columbanus was the founder of the great monastery of Luxeuil in France, and of Bobbio, in northern Italy.
In 1935, the parish priest of Beechwood-Avenue reconstructed the old chapel by the addition of a nave, thus providing treble the accommodation, and by the erection of new altars. The old front of the chapel reminds us that we have still the remains of one of the few pre-Emancipation chapels in Dublin. The reconstructed chapel was blessed by Archbishop Byrne on 1 September, 1935.
During the reconstruction, an interesting relic of the old chapel was brought to light in the shape of a brass tablet that bore the date of the foundation (1819) of the original chapel, and its title, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. The parish priest (1935) revived the ancient title and combined with it the title of 1882, and so, though the title “SS. Gall and Columbanus” still remains on the front of the old chapel, the title is now “Assumption of the Blessed Virgin and SS. Gall and Columbanus”. Archbishop Byrne approved of this change in the title.
Ref: Diocesan Archives re “The Assumption and SS. Gall and Columbanus, Milltown”
Ref. p.91 < collected manuscripts - Dr. Myles Ronan. Vol.1. ************************ Added note – the text of the ‘brass tablet’ referred to above reads as follows:
HAEC DOMUS DOMINI THIS HOUSE OF THE LORD
Consecrata in honorem Consecrated in honour of
B. MARIAE VIRG. ASSUMPTAE THE ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
fundata est was founded
Die 30 Novembris On the 30th day of November
FESTO S. ANDREAE APOSTOLI The Feast of S. Andrew Apostle
ANNO DNI M D CCC, XIX, In the year of Our Lord MDCCCXIX (1819)