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Orthodoxy in Ireland

an article for the sixth anniversary of the opening of the first Orthodox church in Dublin

Gregory Strachan

a) Church of the Annunciation, St. Marys Church, Mary Street, Dublin 1. 24th May 1981 2nd May 1986.

In May 1981 Archbishop MacAdoo of Dublin handed over the redundant Anglican Church of St. Mary in Mary Street to the Greek Orthodox Community of Dublin and Ireland. The premises were blessed for Orthodox worship and raised to the dignity of a Cathedral dedicated to the Holy Annunciation by His Eminence Archbishop Methodius of Thyateira, Great Britain and Ireland on the 24th May 1981, Sunday of the Samaritan Woman.

The Cathedral itself was erected in 1627. In has a fine interior with beautiful mahogany woodwork and furniture. There are old-fashioned box-pews, each with its own door. The gallery, supported by octagonal wooden columns, runs round the three sides of the church. The church was also well decorated by donations received from Ireland, England, Greece, Cyprus and Romania. It has an exceptional location in the heart of the city. But from a liturgical point of view the interior was ill suited to our purposes. Incessant work was needed by priest and congregation in order to create the appropriate atmosphere. In this venerable church were duly celebrated all the divine services prescribed by Byzantine tradition for each Sunday, holy day and sacred season. These services are all recorded in a book kept by the parish.

The church was provided for Orthodox of all nationalities, even though from the beginning it stood under Greek jurisdiction. It became the spiritual home not only of Cypriots, Greeks and Russians, but also of Serbian, Egyptian, Ethiopian, French, Scottish and Irish faithful. Unfortunately at the end of June 1982 a few parishioners of Russian background organised themselves for a time on a separate basis under the jurisdiction of the Russian Church in exile.

Our occupancy of St. Marys Church came to an abrupt end on Good Friday 1986, when the Church of Ireland decided to close the building as unsafe, whereupon worship ceased here for the first time since 1627.

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