SAINT COLUMBA’S CHURCH IN SWORDS
The church is on Church Road, Swords, some 150 metres or a two minute walk from the main street of Swords. Because the church and its towers are on a hill above the town centre, it is very easy to find from any point in Swords.
Saint Columba’s Church in Swords is a Georgian building, on which construction began in 1811. It was designed by Francis Johnston, who designed many other buildings in Ireland, including the GPO on O’Connell Street. The church can seat about three hundred people. It has a Telford organ and the acoustics are amazing. The walls display monuments from some of the earlier churches and the windows hold some of the earliest stained glass in Ireland.
The round tower is the only remnant of a monastery founded by St Columba/St Colmcille in 512. It is believed that St Columba appointed St Finian Lobair, or the leper, as its abbot, and gave him a missal, or copy of the gospels, that he had written. During its early history the monastery possessed considerable wealth, and as a result the town of Swords rose into importance. Over the centuries the monastic settlement was severely damaged by both native Irish and Vikings raiders. The bodies of King Brian Boru, and his son Murrough, were brought here after the battle of Clontarf.
The square clock tower dates back to the 14th century and added to the ancient abbey. There’s an engraving which dates from 1791 which shows the belfry tower and the remains of the medieval church walls. These walls were taken down in 1830 when St. Columba’s Church was being rebuilt.
St. Columba’s Church Lodge was build in 1870 costing £140
Although previously in good condition the church building now requires repairs. There are signs of increasing conservation problems. There is no immediate danger of collapse but condition is such that unless urgent remedial works are carried out the building will sharply deteriorate. The community has vacated the structure following loose plaster which fell into area over font. Complex remedial works is now required.