26 MARCH 2023
There was a St. Kevin’s Church in what is now St. Kevin’s Park, Camden Row, Dublin, Ireland at least as far as the 13th century. After the Reformation, it became an Anglican church. The original church was replaced around 1750 by a new one, closed in 1912 and now in ruins. Both churches were dedicated to Kevin of Glendalough. There is also a Catholic St. Kevin’s Church a short distance away on Harrington Street.
The church was first mentioned in historical annals in 1226. It was situated some distance from the walls of Dublin, in the Irish-speaking part of the city, but close to a monastic settlement in the region of present-day Aungier Street. From the 13th century it formed part of the Manor of St. Sepulchre, which was directly under the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Dublin. An archaeological excavation carried out in 1967 uncovered some medieval graves and coins. The present ruined church, built on the foundation of the medieval one, dates to around 1750.
The church is the burial place of Archbishop Dermot O’Hurley, who was removed from a Mass grave and interred here after his summary execution on 20 June 1584 at Hoggen Green. O’Hurley, ordained Archbishop of Cashel in 1581, was arrested after his return to Ireland and tortured in Dublin Castle. His grave became a place of veneration for Roman Catholics for several hundred years. In 1609, in view of the throngs of pilgrims coming to his grave, the church was rebuilt and a new entrance was made. Along with 17 other Irish Catholic Martyrs, Archbishop O’Hurley was Beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1992.
In the early years of the Irish Confederate Wars (1641–1649) incursions were made into the church lands surrounding St. Kevin’s by Confederate soldiers stationed in Wicklow. Trenches were dug near the church to help defend The Pale, but the Irish clans were able to raid cattle, horses, and the occasional merchant who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, all of which they carried away into the “wilds of Wicklow”. Despite cease-fires being arranged, this situation continued until the Battle of Rathmines sealed the fate of the Confederate and Cavalier forces.
In 1698, the time of the Penal Laws, the church was offered to the Huguenot community as a place of worship and cemetery. The graveyard, however, continued to be used by Catholics until the end of the 19th century.