College Buildings 1835-1902
By Rev. T. Davitt, CM.
The Presidency of Fr. Philip Dowley : 1835-1864.
IN October 24, 1834 "the Reverend Gentlemen of the Day School on Usher's Quay" entered into possession of the Castleknock property, paying £3,600 for it. The property was forty acres in extent and contained two buildings. These had been in use as a school since at least 1770; and in 1798 a Mr. Sweeny was the owner and some time later he sold to the Rev. William Gwynn, D.D. who continued the school. It was a Protestant school and for at least a part of its history was a preparatory school for the sons of Protestant clergymen. For a few years prior to 1834 the school had been out of use and £600 had to be spent on repairs. The school opened on August 28, 1835, the same day that Usher's Quay had opened in 1833. There were seven priests and forty-seven or forty-eight boys, the limit of accommodation.
The larger of the two buildings occupied the site of the present Concert Hall. It was a two-storied house built by John Warren in the early seventeenth century and had been the residence of the Headmaster during previous ownership. In 1834 it became the priests' house, but contained also the chapel, infirmary, refectory and parlours. This building became known as the Old House. The other building was to the west of this, also of two stories; it was probably originally a farm storehouse. The main part was 60' x 18' and contained dormitory accommodation for thirty boys, a playhall, two classhalls and a priest's room; there was a 20' wing, also of two stories, with a dormitory on the upper floor and a wash-hall on the lower. This building was known as the Long Building.
The entrance to the property was by an avenue running straight out in front of the Old House; the course of this avenue can still be seen in the front field; the section of stone wall which interrupts the hedge along the roadside marks where the old entrance gate was. This avenue is marked on both Taylor's map (1816) and Duncan's map (1821); both maps mark the property as a school; the latter shows the two separate buildings. The recreation grounds were in front of the buildings, a rectangular space surrounded by a walk and divided into two plots by another walk running east-west; a ball alley was at the western end of this area and faced the road. What could be part of the course of the surrounding walk may be seen in the field to the left of the present avenue as one approaches the gate. Part of the floor of the alley can still be seen in the sunken garden.
Soon the need for expansion became apparent and in 1837 a two-storied block was built to the east of the Old House; this was the block at present occupied by the Senior Playhall and the wider part of the Junior Library, with the rooms above each of these. Apparently each of these four rooms originally had the same dimensions, those of the present Senior Playhall, and three of them were later shortened to make room for corridors to later extensions. When built the Senior Playhall was the Study Hall, the wider part of the Junior Library (the part with the two windows) was the Chapel, each with a door immediately inside the present Trunk Door, and the Music Room and the Fifth Year Room were dormitories. Between these latter was the Dean's room, the present big staircase not then being in existence. The foundation stone of this new building was laid by Dr. Murray, Archbishop of Dublin, and the completion of the building brought the accommodation up to sixty boys.
In 1844, the Cullen family of Co. Meath gave a gift of £3,000. This was utilised in 1846 to build a further extension of the 1837 building. This was also a two-story building and extended the 1837 building as far as the eastern end of the present Senior Library, which became the Chapel. The existing Chapel (the wider part of the present Junior Library) became a Physics Hall.
The cemetery in the Castle was inaugurated in 1848 for the burial of Fr. Peter Lydon, the first member of the Irish Province of the Vincentians to die.
The following year, 1849, the builders were in again and the College spread to its present eastward extremity, the parlour, and also to the north. The northward extension was the Chapel (24' shorter than at present) and the adjacent block which at present contains St. Patrick's and St. Raphael's dormitories and the sacristies. The decoration of the Chapel was not undertaken for many years. The former Chapel (the present Senior Library) became a Physics Hall, and the former Physics Hall (the wider part of the present Junior Library) became a library. In twelve years this latter room had been in turn Chapel, Physics Hall and library. (The first library was started in the Old House on November 10, 1847)
The year 1851 saw the builders again when a third story was added to the 1837 block, the present St. Laurence's and St. Francis de Sales' (until recently St. Vincent's) dormitories. At the same time the present Refectory St. Mary's dormitory block was built, though it was 12' shorter than at present; the Refectory ended where the arch is now. The Study Hall was transferred from the present Senior Playhall to the present St. Mary's dormitory.
The engraving attached shows the College as it was in 1851, with the third story on the 1837 block, the rest two stories. The original alleys are shown also, the Long Building and the Old House. Behind the present Holy Angels Senior Library block is the roof of a building; in spite of its wrong perspective it is probably the St. Mary's Refectory block. The St. Patrick's St. Raphael's block is not shown at the eastern end, the edge of the engraving Another engraving from the same period shows the College from a different angle, with a path on the right leading to a small unidentifiable building. (Perhaps this is merely the artist forcing the perspective to include the entrance and gate lodge)
The Long Building was demolished in 1855, being no longer needed, and the following year the third story was added to the 1846 and 1849 blocks and the Celtic cross was erected in the centre of the parapet. (It lasted till 1954.) The statues of the saints on each side of the cross seem to have been a later addition The dormitories in the new third floor brought the accommodation up to one hundred and ten. On page 8"of the Centenary Record is an engraving of 1860 showing the old alleys, the Long Building removed, the Old House and the third stories added to the 1846 and 1849 blocks.
The entrance was altered to its present position in 1857 and a new lodge and gateway (not the present ones) were built, and two years later gas was introduced to the College for illumination, replacing oil. A photograph of this entrance is the frontispiece of the 1890 Chronicle.
The Presidency of Fr. Thomas MacNamara : 1864-1867.
The year 1865 was one of very big changes. Shortly before Fr. MacNamara took up residence in Castleknock, as Provincial as well as President of the College, he had been left a large legacy, mainly in the form of shares in a mining company. He intended to use this legacy to finance the building of a Central House for the Irish Province at Castleknock. He entrusted the design to Mr. Goldie, the architect of Phibsboro' church. The design called for a short extension southward from the existing building and then a long extension to the west; the reason for this right angular shape was that extension directly west was blocked by the Old House. When the building had gone a considerable way the shares suddenly dropped in value and the completion of the project had to be abandoned; Fr. MacNamara also abandoned his idea of a Central House and so all the building so far done became available for the College. The building had reached the present Bursar's office (inclusive), but the centre section of this portion had reached only two stories while the sections on each side had reached three. The centre section was roofed as it was; in other words there was no St. Anthony's dormitory. There is a photograph of the building in this state. I do not know when St. Anthony's was added on but it was probably about 1894 as the front piece of the 1895 Chronicle shows it with the outside plastering obviously fresher than the other parts.
The other big event of 1865 was the changing of the recreation area from the front of the house to the back, to an area formerly an orchard. The new recreation area was bounded to the north by two sets of alleys joined by a high wall. This wall would have been in an almost direct line with the pathway between the two quarries. The boundary on the east was an earthen ditch surmounted by trees; the remains of this ditch were the trees and mounds which survived till 1954 when they had to give way because of the new classhall block. (The western pair of alleys may be seen in the aerial photograph on page 92 of the 1925 Chronicle, the eastern pair in two different photographs on page 45 of the 189- Chronicle and page 50 of the 1899 issue. The western set of alleys may also be seen in a photograph on page 85 of the 1902 issue; the eastern set was gone by 1907, but the western set survived till the present ones were erected about 1931.)
The Presidency of Fr. Peter Duff: 1867-1873.
From 1870 to 1874 a Fr. Patrick McKenna was on the staff and although he was not Dean he seems to have interested himself very much in the boys' recreational facilities. He was responsible for extending the recreation area to the east, taking in, for cricket, what is now the soccer pitch and the Under 13*s pitch. To do this he pierced the earthen ditch already mentioned with gaps between the trees, leaving each tree on a mound.
An important event of 1873 was the opening of the Vincentian seminary in Blackrock. This meant that the seminarians and students left Castleknock and the parts of the house formerly reserved for them became available for the boys. Up to 1873 the area at present occupied by Holy Angels', St. Pius X's, Bl. Perboyre's, St. Raphael's and St. Patrick's dormitories was reserved for the priests, students and seminarists and contained priests' rooms, priests' library and the priests' oratory, which was immediately behind the Chapel on the middle floor.
At the end of Fr. Duff's period there were one hundred and fifty boys in the College.
The Presidency of Fr. Malachy O'Callaghan : 1873-1885.
One of the first tasks of the new President was the adaptation or the area or the house vacated by the departed students and seminarians The transfer of the priests' quarters had begun on the partial completion of the 1865 extension to the west, which was known as the New House. The transfer was apparently completed now in 1873 and the dormitories mentioned above (except St. Raphael's) laid out Holy Angels' seems to have been originally called St. John's. It does not seem possible now to trace the exact layout of this area prior to 1873 in there are two blocked-up doorways in the organ gallery, on the south and west walls; probably there was a corridor along the north wall of Holy Angels', between it and the row of pillars. On the ground floor the east parlour had been the community Refectory, and the extremity of the Chapel corridor had been a kitchen, with pantries on the north side of it.
About this time the interior of the College would have presented the following appearance: the forerunner of the present staircase (built 1901) was much smaller and steeper and so took up less space. Between the present Music Room and the Fifth Year Room was the Dean's office, entered from a door in the present Music Room; the outline of this blocked-up door may still be seen near the window. The window of the office was the one behind the statue of St. Vincent Above the office was the Dean's bedroom, between the present St. Laurence's and St. Francis de Sales' dormitories; the latter was then a wash-hall Beyond this wash-hall were dormitories Nos. IV and V, each with a small room off it in which one of the Vincentian students, up to 1873, slept; these students were called Sub-Deans. St. Mary's was the Study Hall, with two small classrooms at the northern end, and immediately outside the Study Hall, on the left as one entered, was another classroom and a"shop"for books and other articles; these both disappeared when the corridor to the later Study Hall was laid out. The"shop"was presided over for years by Mr. Francis O'Beirne, CM., known as"Sandy". He was a Vincentian student who, through ill health, never was ordained but remained a cleric and a member of the Congregation. His name survived for many years in "Sandy Row", the row of rooms on the middle floor beside the Chapel which later became St. Raphael's dormitory. The two classrooms at the northern end of the Study Hall were incorporated into the hall at some time during Fr. O'Callaghan's Presidency.
On the ground floor the present Senior Library was already a library, haying been formerly in turn a Chapel and a Physics Hall. It had a gallery at one end, which disappeared I don't know when. No. 11 was a classhall and beside it was another one of the same size which was later incorporated into the present Junior Library; the wider portion of the present Junior Library was a Physics Hall in 1894, and the room between it and No. 11 was a"laboratory to the Physics Hall". I have been unable to ascertain when exactly the Physics Hall was enlarged by the incorporation of the smaller room; it had certainly been done by 1902, as may be seen from the photograph on page 48 of that year's Chronicle . The Senior Playhall was the present St. Vincent's corridor, known as the "Walking Hall", and the Junior Hall was the present Senior one. The garden was laid out and the farmyard built during Fr. O'Callaghan's term of office.
Fr. O'Callaghan's last year, 1885, was also the Golden Jubilee year of the College.
The Presidency of Fr. James Moore : 1885-1892.
Fr. Malachy O'Callaghan was appointed to Australia and a group of Pastmen thought his departure from Castleknock should be marked by a presentation to him. When he heard of this he said that he would prefer if some gift were made to the College. A group of Pastmen met in Morrison's Hotel, Dublin on September 11, 1885, to discuss the matter and it was decided that the presentation would be to mark the Golden Jubilee of the College. Some suggestions were made for an altar or a collection of books, but eventually it was decided to finance the erection of a covered, heated swimming bath. It was also decided that a limit of £1 be put on the contribution of any individual Pastman. Sir E. Guinness, not a Pastman, gave £20. The College was to bear the balance of the expense not covered by the gift. The bath was to be 70' x 40', the largest covered bath in the United Kingdom. The first sod was cut on November 14, 1886; the architect was W. H. Beardwood, who gave his services free. The engineer was J. A. F. (later Sir John) Aspinall, who from 1883 to 1886 was Chief Mechanical Engineer at the Inchicore works of the Great Southern and Western Railway.
The inception of the new swimming bath meant a complete reorganisation of the waterworks system. A steam pump was erected in the newly-built farmyard; this drew water from the quarry and"discharged it into a large reservoir constructed within the circular castle. Hence it comes with immense force down the hillside to the various cisterns in the college". The steam engine also supplied power for various farm work. It was a 6-hp-Tangye with a vertical tubular boiler.
The Archbishop of Dublin was present for the Golden Jubilee celebrations; when he was departing down the avenue"from the centre window of the second story flashed the electric light". An account of the celebrations in the Centenary Record mentions that electric light had recently been installed; presumably "recently" means a year or two before 1885; in the 1889 Chronicle there is a passing reference to "a dynamo, gas engine and storage battery".
In 1887 new desks were installed in the Study Hall. They were dual desks of polished oak and the student had "the luxury of support for his back". They were supplied by the Bennett Furnishing Co. of London. When the new Study Hall was built these desks were transferred to it and they survived until the idea of a common study hall was abandoned in 1956. The desks were then sold to another school, though a single survivor remains at Castleknock in an outhouse.
Minor events of 1889 were the installation of the first billiard table, in No. 2 Playhall (now the Senior one) and the design of the College crest. The crest was designed by Fr. Patrick Dowling, CM., who had started the Chronicle in 1886.
The big event of the year, however, was the start of work on the Bicycle Track in October. The decision to lay down a track was taken because of the enormous increase of interest in cycling. This interest was not, apparently, affected by the warning of a contemporary medical man, Dr. Richardson, who said that no one under twenty-one should be allowed to ride a bicycle because of the danger of "derangement of the conformation of the framework of the body", of "unnatural curves", "bowleggedness" and "systematic disturbance". The track was laid down around the then cricket crease (the present soccer pitch and Under 13's pitch). It had a foundation of broken stones, then gravel, cinders, fine ash and sand. It survived, though not for cycling, until the remodelling of the grounds in the late 1950's consequent upon the building of the new classhall block.
A very- big step was taken in 1890; the Old House was demolished and a start made on the Concert Hall Junior Playhall block, which for some time afterwards was known as"the New Wing". From the early 1870's the Old House had been "little more than a lounge for the sick and a place of resort for the healthy". It contained a Pharmacy, a Band Hall and a clothes room; the latter was used as a Green Room for the Shrovetide theatricals. On April 16, 1890, the Old House was emptied of its contents and the following day demolition started; it was completed in four or five days. A good photograph of the Old House appears on page 17 of the 1910 Chronicle , and one of it in the course of demolition on page 8 of the 1894 issue. The kitchen quarters to the rere were kept in use until 1893-4 when the present ones were built. On April 27, 1890, the foundation stone of the New Wing was laid, and the actual building commenced the following day. The site was chosen because of "easy access, good light and free current of air". The architect was William Hague, of Dublin, and the builders Messrs. Martin of Belfast and Dublin. The builders bound themselves to be finished by September 1 or the same year, but this appears to have referred only to the actual building and not to the interior furnishing and fitting.
In 1890 also the question was raised of filtering the water tor the swimming bath as it had "a colouration of a vegetable nature". An expert who was consulted said that filtering would not remedy the matter and advised that the quarry should be thoroughly cleaned. This was done, months being required, and as a result the water in the bath became "as clear as crystal"; maybe in 1 890 that was an original comparison. Other events of the same year were the arrival of more billiard tables, an attempt at some sort of gymnasium in the present St. Vincent's corridor, and "the electric light" was used for the first time to illuminate the Shrovetide theatricals. (These were on a temporary stage at the end of the Refectory)
The new Concert Hall, or Aula Maxima as it was called, was not ready in time tor the Shrovetide theatricals of 1891 and was first used on St. Patrick's Day; the first performance on the new stage was by Val Vousden. The last day in the old Study Hall was April 27, 1891, and the desks were transferred to the new one. The dimensions of the new halls were 85' x 33'; the Aula 20' high and the Study Hall 27.5'. The original stage was 27'x 32'; a photograph of it is on page 65 of the 1905 Chronicle; above the proscenium is the inscription"suit the action to the word". The original idea was that the large (16'x 13') window in the Study Hall should be of stained glass but later there was a"consensus"against shutting out the beautiful view Electric light was installed" as being less injurious to sight and health than gas". Five Sunbeam incandescent lamps of 200 candle-power, with opal shades, hung from the centre, and Edison-Swan lamps, of 32 candle-power, hung from the corbels. The hall was heated by the"Small Tube hot-water apparatus," by King Ltd. of Liverpool, as well as two fireplaces. The Green Room under the stage was there from the start, though it then had no windows.
At this time (1891) the following parts of the College were lit by electricity : the Study Hall, the Play Hall, the Chapel corridor and the Study Hall corridor, and the new dormitory (St. Mary's) would be. The steam engine in the farmyard, installed as part of the new waterworks in 1 886, drove"a dynamo-electric machine" which at some stage had replaced the gas engine already referred to. From the farmyard was an overhead cable to the College. The dynamo was by the Electrical Construction Co. of Wolverhampton and the battery had 52 cells, Faure's improved cells. Mr. William Higginbotham, of Palmerstown, installed the plant. The “great purity of the air" is repeatedly stressed as an advantage which electric light had over gas. It was hoped that soon the rest of the House would be electrically lit by the installation of a new turbine"which will yield the ethereal stream in abundance and at a cheap rate".
Also in 1891 a bicycle shed was erected beside the western set of alleys. (This shed may be seen in a photograph on page 87 of the 1907 Chronicle . ) The same year saw the arrival of five stuffed lion cubs, from the Dublin Zoo, in one of the window cases of the Chapel corridor; other arrivals in the same corridor were three cases of stuffed birds and two stags' heads. The other windows of the corridor were filled with "rare and beautiful minerals, stones, crystallized metals, etc.", a "miniature conservatory with mosses, ferns and a small aquarium with fish", and a peacock.
Fr. Moore's last year, 1891-2, was marked by the opening of St. Mary's dormitory and the remodelling of the top dormitories."The Medical Faculty require a minimum of 800 cubic feet per head"and this was taken into consideration; the boys in St. Mary's were provided with 864 cubic feet. St. Mary's was formed out of the old Study Hall and was furnished by the generosity of a Pastman. It had twenty-seven beds, separated by partitions of pine panelled with walnut. (These still survive) There were five incandescent lights and Musgrave's patent slow combustion stoves for heating. There was running water for each basin, but this had later to be removed because of constant misuse by boys who were not accustomed to this amenity! (The taps can be seen in the frontispiece of the 1892 Chronicle) On the top floor "walls had disappeared, small rooms removed, doors and windows changed, there were new elaborate toilet arrangements and stoves". The Wash Hall had become St. Vincent's dormitory (now St. Francis de Sales') with nine beds; beyond this Nos. IV and V had been combined to make the Sacred Heart dormitory (now two dormitories, Sacred Heart and St. Kevin's) 72' x 31' x 12', with 32 beds. Beyond this again Nos. VII and VIII were combined to form St. Aloysius' dormitory. The other dormitories were given names instead of the old numbers and stoves were installed; it was hoped to be able to remodel them soon.
An Infirmary was inaugurated this year. There had been an Infirmary at one time in the Old House but apparently for some years prior to 1892 the sick used to remain in their own beds in the dormitories. I have been unable to find out where this 1892 Infirmary was located.
The Presidency of Fr. Thomas Hardy : 1 892-1 895.
In Fr. Hardy's first year of office there was need for further extension of dormitory accommodation; the row of rooms on the middle floor, beside the Chapel, known as Sandy Row, was converted into a dormitory. The name St. Raphael's was chosen because the Castleknock property was purchased on St. Raphael's feast day 1 834. (At some future date this dormitory was converted back to a corridor and four rooms, the end one being the Lay Professors' room, and the name Sandy Row revived. In 1961 the rooms and corridor were again made into a dormitory, and given back its old name.)
The same year, 1892-3 saw the start of another new building, the necessary money being the gift of an anonymous Pastman. It was a block parallel to the Refectory St. Mary's block, just to the west of it, and with a wing running west at right angles as well. It was planned to contain six new class halls (though in fact only five materialised), priests' refectory, kitchen and ancillary rooms, staff quarters and clothes rooms. Whether the priests had a separate refectory after 1873, when their former one became the east parlour, is not clear. A Pastman of the 1870's, reminiscing in the 1928 Chronicle , recalls the priests dining at the top of the Boys'
Refectory. At some period the five new classhalls became known as the Catacombs. In the building of this block the first window on the north wall of the Junior Playhall (now Concert Hall) was blocked up; the corresponding window in the Study Hall above was left, the new roof being peculiarly angled to achieve this. When this roof needed attention in 1964-5 the window was blocked up. With the new kitchen arrangements of 1892-3 the Refectory St. Mary's block was extended by 12'; the extension to the Refectory was a carving area and that to the dormitory was a bathroom.
The building of the new kitchen meant the demolition of the old one, the last surviving piece of the buildings which existed at the time of the purchase in 1834. Some of the boys recovered the bone of the last leg of mutton cooked in the old kitchen and appointed a Custodian of the Bone. The holder of this office was to be elected each year; his motto was"Nil Nisi Bonum".
The year 1 893-4 saw the roll reach two hundred for the first time. It also saw the enlargement of the cricket crease at the foot of the hill (the present soccer pitch and Under-13's pitch). This year also the house telephone was installed, with an extension to the doctor's house; it was hoped that soon there would be a telephone connection with the city.
Possibly 1894-5 was the year in which St. Anthony's dormitory was added, as mentioned earlier, but it was certainly the year in which cups and saucers were introduced into the Refectory; before this tea was served in bowls.
The Presidency of Fr. Joseph Geoghegan : 1895-1902.
In Fr. Geoghegan's first year there was erected "a great new Boiler" in the farmyard; it was to supply steam for cooking to the kitchen, steam for heating to the rest of the house and to the swimming bath, and steam for the generation of electricity. The pipes which carried the hot water from the farmyard were lagged with asbestos and laid in concrete troughs. A 50' chimney stack was erected for the boiler and long survived it; it was not demolished till 1930. Water for the boiler came from a specially-built underground concrete reservoir beside it.
Improvements in the grounds were the overhauling and re-flooring of the two sets of alleys and the banking of the corner of the bicycle track beside the eastern set. (Sometime between this year and 1907 the eastern pair of alleys was demolished, though the floor remained until the crease was enlarged in the late 1940's.) Inside the house a new statue of St. Vincent appeared at the end of the Walking Hall (now St. Vincent's corridor), a gift of Fr. Joseph Brady, C M .; it now stands at the corner on the main stairs.
In 1897-8 work started on the completion of the western range of buildings. The carrying out of the 1865 plans had been stopped when the building had reached as far as the end of the present Bursar's office and the rooms above It was now decided to complete these original plans as regards external appearance but with the interior altered. It was felt desirable to have an Infirmary almost completely separated from the rest of the house, in the western extremity of the building. This Infirmary was to occupy the middle and upper floors of the extension and have its own kitchen in the basement; the ground floor of the new section was for the community. There were only two doors connecting the Infirmary to the rest of the building, one on the ground floor and one on the top floor. The Infirmary had ten rooms, and a sitting room 20' X 40'. This latter at some later date became Bl. Clet's dormitory and then in 1961 became the Infirmary again, with two isolation rooms partitioned off at the northern end. The architect was William Hague, who had designed the Concert Hall Junior Playhall block. The money for the work was the gift of Fr. George Campbell, CM.
In the grounds there were two major improvements; the present cricket crease was laid out and the present senior pitch was levelled Originally the idea was to bring all the grounds to the same level but this was abandoned as being unfeasible. Instead of one level it was decided to have three or four different levels and the work on the senior pitch was the first step in this plan; in fact no further steps were taken at that time.
The completion of the building in 1898 was the last major building work undertaken until the new classhall block was started in September 1954.
The Pavilion was built in 1902, the keys being handed over by the builder, Mr. Kiernan, on April II. It was a gift of Dan Garry, who had left the College in 1900; unfortunately he was in New York at the time of the opening and unable to be present.
Inside the house the same year (1901-2) saw the re-arrangement of the Physics Hall (the present Junior Library) and the improvement of the Drawing Hall (the present Junior Oratory). What exactly the re-arrangement of the Physics Hall was is not clear; perhaps it was the inclusion of the small classhall next door. The photograph of the re-arranged hall (page 48 of the 1902 Chronicle ) shows it as it still was in 1956, its last year of use. The improvement of the Drawing Hall seems to have been merely a question of re-painting it. The big interior change of this year was the erection of the new staircase, completed for the start of the year. This work involved the demolition of both the Dean's bedroom and office. The architect of the new stairs was Walter Doolin, a Pastman. (He was the architect of the Franciscan Friary, Merchants' Quay.)
Appendix : The Chapel.
The first Chapel was in the Old House; the second one (1837) was in the wide portion of the present Junior Library; the third one (1846) was the present Senior Library- and it had three altars at the eastern end; the tops of the arches over these altars may be seen above the shelves in a photograph on page 8 of the 1891 Chronicle . The fourth Chapel was the present one though it took many years to come to its present appearance.
The Chapel was built in 1849, 24' shorter than at present. The plasterwork was carried out by Italian stuccodores who were then in Dublin; the walls and ceiling were painted cream. The two end Chapels of St. Vincent and the Blessed virgin, and the lateral Chapel of St. Patrick (without its later extension to Holy Angels' altar) were the gift of Fr. Nicholas Barlow, C M . The gift included the three altar paintings which were apparently done by a French Vincentian lay brother in Rome. The total cost of the three Chapels was £900.
The original picture over the High Altar, of which the present one is a copy, was done on zinc by a chemist named Barff according to some then new process. The picture was a copy of a mosaic altarpiece in the King's Court Church, Munich.
Sometime in the early 1850's the organ was built, at a cost of £600. It was the gift of Mr. Charles Gerard, who lived at Mount Sackyille, and was built under his supervision He was the organist to the College up to his death in 1860.
In its original form the Chapel had only five windows on the west side and five corresponding wall-spaces on the east; in 1878 five paintings for these spaces were done in Rome. The subjects were : The Sacred Heart, gift of Dr. Gillooly, Bishop of Elphin; St. Joseph, gift of Cabra Convent; St. Laurence O'Toole, gift of Cardinal Cullen; St. Aloysius, gift of Dr. Lynch (probably the Archbishop of Toronto, though possibly the Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, who was of the same name); an Angel Guardian, gift of the Commendatore McSwiney. The oak choir-stalls and altar rail (which was later removed) were acquired through a gift of £100 from the Misses O'Reilly of Newry.
On November 1, 1879 The Most Rev. Dr. John Lynch, CM., Archbishop of Toronto, who was the first boy to enter the College in 1835, solemnly dedicated the Chapel to St. Vincent On September 8, 1880, The Most Rev. Dr. Woodlock, Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise, consecrated the marble High Altar. It was the gift of Mr. Francis "Sandy" O'Beirne, CM., already referred to, and cost £100. An inscription on the Gospel side of the altar commemorates the gift and the donor.
These latter improvements were carried out during the Presidency of Fr. Malachy O'Callaghan (1873-1885); he also made one central door for the Chapel in place of the two smaller doors, one at each side; these original doors were blocked up and their outline, on the corridor side, became niches for the holy-water fonts.
In 1886 a Pastman, John Murray, was asked to re-touch the picture over the High Altar; some time previously someone had attempted to wash it and the colours ran.
In 1905 a scheme of decoration was planned by a Mr. Brenan of the Dublin School of Art; it called for eighteen separate colours and was carried out by a Mr. Nugent of Belfast. When this decoration was finished hope was expressed of being able some day in the future to change the High Altar picture to mosaic, to install stained-glass windows, to obtain a new set of Stations and to fill the spaces on the east wall with "pictures of high artistic standard"; this latter hope seems to cast some doubt on the standard of the gift pictures of 1878. The Chapel at this stage, 1905, can be seen in two photographs on pages 57 and 58 of the 1905 Chronicle; the shorter length (five windows), the altar rail and the empty spaces on the east wall can be clearly seen. The inscription over the altar is "Haec est Domus Domini" with above it IHS.
In 1914 Pastmen subscribed to a fund to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of Fr. Paul Cullen, C M .; the fund was used to extend the Chapel. On October 20, 1 914, the rere wall of the Chapel was knocked down and a new one begun 24' further north; this meant that the extension would give two extra windows to the building. The small wooden extension to the Sacristy corridor was necessary as formerly the door to the Sanctuary was directly opposite the door of the priests' Sacristy. On the opposite side the building which now contains Holy Angels' and Sacred Passion altars was added to St. Patrick's Chapel, the original door to which, in front of the altar, was blocked up and a window on the north face became the door.
The new rere wall was an exact replica of the old one and the plasterwork of the extension continued faithfully the existing design. The architects were Messrs. Ashlin and Coleman, the builder Mr. Mackey, and the plasterwork was by Mr. Creedon. The High Altar picture was so badly damaged in its removal that it could not be re-erected. The extension was left unpainted for many years and a photograph of it in this state is on page 76 of the 1923 Chronicle . This photograph also shows that the inscription over the High Altar was still, after the extension,"Haec Est Domus Domini" (in place of the present "Laudate Pueri Dominum"), and above it the IHS motif in place of the present Lamb with the Book with Seven Seals. An earlier photograph, frontispiece of the 1886 Chronicle , shows no inscription or frieze at all over the altar. In 1916 an unsuccessful attempt was made to reproduce the original picture. The choir-stalls, altar and general layout of the Sanctuary were kept.
Fr. Edward Meehan, CM., who had been President since 1916, died in 1919 and a memorial fund was started by Pastmen to be used for the decoration of the extension of the Chapel; this was to be done in the summer of 1920 but the artist died. In July 1923 the work was entrusted to Messrs. J. Clark & Sons, North Frederick Street. A gift from Dan Garry, who had presented the Pavilion, enabled a copy of the original altar picture to be made. The copy was done by Monsieur L. Bevaert, of Bruges. A slight change from the original was the inclusion of the landscape at the bottom of the painting; also the painting is on canvas laid directly on the wall. The original picture is clearly reproduced in the photograph of the Chapel on page 59 of the 1905 Chronicle . The Stations of the Cross were commissioned from the same artist by the Meehan family; they are painted on mahogany panels and are based on originals by Rosier, a disciple of Munkacsy.
In 1923 new seats were designed and supplied by Hearne's of Waterford. June 4, 1924, marked the Golden Jubilee of the Children of Mary and Pastmen members decided to commemorate the occasion by some special memorial in the Chapel. It was decided that this would take the form of seven paintings to fill the seven spaces on the east wall. The work was entrusted to M. Bevaert, who had already done the altar picture and the Stations. The subjects are : The Annunciation, The Nativity, The Baptism of Our Lord, Our Lord Healing the Sick, The Agony in the Garden, The Resurrection, The Ascension.