SAINT MARY'S CHAPEL OF EASE PHOTOGRAPHED BY WILLIAM MURPHY
The Black Church or St Mary’s Chapel-of-Ease on St Mary’s Place near Mountjoy Street and Western Way is no longer an active church.
It was built in 1830 to serve the local Church of Ireland community. Back then it was located in a wealthy part of Dublin.
The stone that was used to construct it is known calp stone and looks dark,almost black, after rain. Because of this, Dubliners have always referred to it as ‘the Black Church’.
It was claimed that if you walked around the church three times at midnight, the devil would appear and steal your soul. Of course this story is a bit difficult to prove. A number of churches have similar stories associated with them - for example in the case of James' Church near the Guinness brewery: " Across the road from the church, in the middle of the road, is the Fountain, an obelisk with 4 sundials with a drinking fountain at its base, built in 1790 by the Duke of Rutland, the Lord Lieutenant. It was an old custom that funeral processions passing the fountain would circle it three times before carrying on to the cemetery".
The Black Church was designed by John Semple. It has sharp needle-like spires and a deep-set door and thin windows, which end in a pointed arch. But what is most amazing is what it looks like inside: its walls are not straight but round and the whole inside appears like one big arch. It has been described by many as being a bit like stepping into a huge beer barrel lying on its side.
Soon after the church was built, the south-side of the city became more fashionable and many wealthy people abandoned the north side of the city resulting in a decline into poverty was is still ongoing.
Over the years the area has changed a lot and now the Black Church sits like an island between two roads making it appear sad and isolated.
It was closed in the 1960s and then sold to Dublin City Council who used it as a storage facility.
Today [April 2018] it is home to a number of businesses.
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