John's Lane Church

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John's Lane Church
St. Augustine of Hippo and St. John the Baptist; Catholic Church
John's Lane Church Exterior, Dublin, Ireland - Diliff.jpg
The Church of St. Augustine and St. John the Baptist
John's Lane Church is located in Central Dublin
John's Lane Church
John's Lane Church
Coordinates: 53°20′35″N 6°16′39″W / 53.34306°N 6.27750°W / 53.34306; -6.27750
Location94–96 Thomas Street
DenominationRoman Catholic
ChurchmanshipOrder of Saint Augustine
DedicationSt. Augustine of Hippo
St. John the Baptist
Functional statuschurch/chapel
Heritage designationArchaeological / Historical / Social
Architect(s)Edward Welby Pugin
George C. Ashlin spire - designed by William Hague
Architectural typeChurch
StyleFrench Gothic Revival
GroundbreakingPhase I 1862 - Phase II 1892
CompletedPhase I 1874 - Phase II 1895
Construction cost£ 60,000
Length50.29 meters (165 feet)
Width28.34 meters (93 feet)
Nave height19.81 meters (65 feet)
Other dimensionsBell-tower holds ten bells weighing almost 6 metric tonnes
Spire height67.97 meters (223 feet)
MaterialsSandstone, limestone, granite, Portland stone
Tenor bell weight<0 long tons 22 cwt 3 qr 2 lb (2,550 lb or 1.157 t)
ParishNot a parish church
ProvinceIrish Province of the Order of St. Augustine (O.S.A.) [1]- Provincial - Fr. Gerry Horan

The Church of St. Augustine and St. John, commonly known as John's Lane Church, is a large Roman Catholic Church located on Thomas Street, Dublin, Ireland. It was opened in 1874 on the site of the medieval St. John's Hospital, founded c. 1180. It is served by the Augustinian Order.[2]


The original hospital on the site was constructed by Aelred the Palmer, a Norman living in Dublin, after returning from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He founded a monastery of Crossed Friars under the Rule of St. Augustine who would also manage a hospital close-by, the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem. The monastery was dedicated to St. John the Baptist and stood just outside the city walls, and so was known as St. John's church without Newgate (Johannis Baptistae extra portem novem dublinensis).

In 1316 Edward Bruce marched towards Dublin at the head of his army, with the intention of besieging the city. The Dublin citizens, to prevent any danger from his approach and by common consent, set fire to Thomas Street. However, the flames laid hold of St. John's church and burned it to the ground, together with all the nearby suburbs.

About the commencement of the 18th century, an Augustinian Prior rented for their use as a chapel a stable on the western side of St. John's Tower, a surviving fragment of the Hospital. About 1740, on the site of part of the Hospital, was erected a small church 60 feet (18.3 m) by 24 feet (7.3 m), which was considerably extended 40 years later.[3]

In 1860 it was decided to build a new church. The architect was Edward Welby Pugin, whose father was Augustus Welby Pugin, and assisted by his Irish partner and brother-in-law George C. Ashlin a native of Cork.[2][4]

The remains of the medieval church were demolished and at the time there was the remains of the 'Magdalen' tower from the old church which stood where the high altar stands today.

Construction on the modern church was commenced at Easter 1862 under the leadership of Fr. Martin Crane, and it took 33 years to complete. One problem was that the foreman and many of the workmen were Fenians, who got in trouble with the authorities in 1865 and afterwards. For this reason the church was nicknamed "The Fenian Church".[5]

The spire, designed by William Hague, and roof were completed in 1874, when the church was opened for masses. The exterior was completed by 1895 and the interior by 1911.[5]

The sculptor Patrick Courtney worked on the internal altar and stone works of the church. The tradition of sculptor/stonemason has continued on down through the Courtney generations at their premises at 9 Thomas Street, and later by the sons and grandsons at Francis Street, Dublin 8.[citation needed]


The interior

The church is named after St. Augustine and St. John the Baptist, but is popularly known as John's Lane Church, from its location at the corner of John's Lane.[5]

The church steeple is the highest steeple in the city,[6] standing at over 200 feet (61.0 m). It was originally not designed to hold bells, but a spiral staircase was added later to provide access to bells. The Bell Ringers Company of John's Lane was formed in 1872 and the bells were first rung on St. Patrick's Day 1873.[2][7]

The twelve statues in the niches on the tower are the work of James Pearse, father of Patrick Pearse and Willie Pearse. The stained glass in the apse is by Mayer of Munich. The windows are by the Harry Clarke studio and Michael Healy.[4][8]


There is a peal of ten bells hung in the tower, weighing 22 long hundredweight, 3 quarters and 2 pounds,[9] and in the key of D-flat. The bells were cast by John Murphy of Dublin in 1872 as a ring of eight, and installed that year. They were augmented to ten in 1898 with two more bells being cast by Charles Carr of Smethwick. The tower was not originally intended to hold bells, and therefore access is via an open iron staircase which was added later,[10] and which looks out into the nave of the church. The bells are rung once a month.[11]

Notable Friars[edit]

Professor & Fr. F. X. Martin (O.S.A.), Chairman of the Friends of Medieval Dublin 1976-1983, and Chairman of the Dublin Historic Settlement Group, tried in vain to save the Viking remains in nearby Wood Quay.[5]


  1. ^ Order of Saint Augustine#Ireland
  2. ^ a b c "John's Lane Church Dublin". History. 2009. Retrieved 17 June 2009.
  3. ^ Online book: Dublin: A Historical and Topographical Account of the City, by Samuel A. Ossory Fitzpatrick, 1907
  4. ^ a b McDermott, Matthew J. (1988). "Dublin's Architectural Development 1800-1925", Tulcamac, p. 239 ISBN 1-871212-01-4
  5. ^ a b c d Peter Costello: Dublin Churches. Gill and Macmillan, Dublin (1989)
  6. ^ "SS Augustine and John, Thomas Street, Dublin". Archived from the original on 2 December 2008.
  7. ^ Curtis, Joe (1992). Times, Chimes & Charms of Dublin: A guide to Dublin's clocks and bells. Dublin: Verge Books. p. 72. ISBN 9781475117417.
  8. ^ "John's Lane Church Dublin". Stained Glass. 2009. Retrieved 17 June 2009.
  9. ^ "Dove Details. [online]". 2018. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  10. ^ "St Augustine and St John Dublin". Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  11. ^ "St Augustine and St John Dublin". Retrieved 6 June 2018.

External links[edit]