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St. Matthew's Churchyard
Irishtown Road
County Dublin  Ireland

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Cemetery notes and/or description:

The graveyard is located beside St. Matthew's Church, at the junction of Irishtown Road and Church Avenue. St. Matthew's Church was built in 1704 and extended in 1879. It was then known as The Royal Chapel of St. Matthew.

Many of the headstones are large flatstones, and due to erosion over time are now illegible. In recent times, the cemetery has been cleaned up and the vegetation has been cut back. It is understood that the road now known as Church Avenue was built in the 20th century over part of the original graveyard. No burials take place here now, but commemorative plaques are laid for parishioners whose remains were cremated, and whose ashes are buried here.

Notable persons buried here include,

John Hawkins Askins A Builder
Rev. Peter Richard Clinch Catholic Parish Priest
Fennell Collins
Lundy Foot A Tobacconist, and his son
Lundy Foot barrister, who was murdered
John Hammond Harpsichord Maker
Martin Kenny Wine Merchant

History of the Church:
St. Matthew's Church was founded in 1704 because a dramatic growth of population and prosperity in Dublin and its primitive port at Ringsend had brought a population surge to this area. The narrow peninsula of Ringsend was already congested with buildings, so the church was built about 300 metres to the south, now called Irishtown.

The landscape was sand dunes and mud flats with scrubby trees and shrubs. The housing and other facilities were dreadful. Poverty was universal.

The Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. William King [1650-1729], decided to build a church for this rough, remote but rapidly-expanding port, which was busy not only with sailors and fishermen but with customs officers. He asked the government to pay for the church. It fell for his argument and subsidised the church, which is why it was called the Royal Chapel of St. Matthew from that time until 1871.

A few years after St. Matthew's opened, Dublin Corporation paid to heighten the tower and add a pyramidal steeple as a navigation mark for ships on this dangerous coast (the steeple was later taken down).

In 1871 the Church of Ireland became an independent church, no longer controlled by any government (this was called ‘disestablisment'). The ‘royal chapel' was turned into a normal parish with its own priest as rector and its own vestry, or self-governing body of lay people, to raise money, to help the poor, protect the building, and carry out the many and various functions of a Christian community.

In 1879 the church was expanded as the number of parishioners grew. It was nearly doubled in length, with a new sanctuary and choir at the east end. North and south transepts were added, so the church now has the shape of a cross. Old balconies were taken down and the organ moved from the balcony to the new choir. Capacity rose from about 350 to about 500 parishioners. The Architect for these works was James Franklin Fuller. The works cost £3,000.

A memorial beside the altar is dedicated to those who lost their lives in World War I and is inscribed 'Died fighting for God and right and liberty', and not the previous style of 'King and Country'. The 35 men named included 16 members of the 17th company of The Boys' Brigade, which was based in St Matthew's.

St. Matthew's Church War Memorial

In the last quarter of the twentieth century a parish room was built at the west end, using part of the nave near the tower.

St Matthew's School has served the parish area since 1832. It is now in Cranfield Place, 200 metres from the church. It has recently been enlarged and the facilities updated.
Church Services are held every Sunday at 11.15 am in St. Matthew's.

The burial records indicate that over 3,250 were buried here in the 19th century. The vast majority were the poor, Protestant and Catholic, of the surrounding district, who have no headstone to mark their existence, and whose only record is an entry in a burial register.

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St. Matthew's Churchyard
Added by: John
St. Matthew's Churchyard
Added by: John
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