St. Augustine's Priory
Lower Main Street
Dungarvan
Co. Waterford

Tel: 058 41136    Email: info@thefriarydungarvan.ie
 

The History Of The Augustinians In Dungarvan

The Friary is our Church where we gather week after week. This place has stood for a long time and much has happened here that we can celebrate today. As you know the Augustinians are around here since 1290 when they came to Abbeyside. There they built an abbey hence - the abbey side of Dungarvan. The Augustinians have been here through thick and thin since then, despite suppression and the destruction of their Abbey by Cromwell. No need to go into all that now. Let's skip up to 1818 which was significant for Augustinians here. It was then they decided to close their old thatched Mass-house in the Spring and open their first public chapel in town. Admittedly it was a modest beginning - a thatched store-house converted into a temporary chapel in Church Street. They continued to live at the Spring until 1829. In the meantime they began to prepare to build the new church. Fr. James Tierney was Prior. The bishop was Bishop Walsh who gave permission. They collected subscriptions and material for the new church. A site was obtained off Clubbert's Lane, now Friary Street, and they started early 1823. Fr. John Wall was the prior now and the church was completed in less than two years. You can see the inscription as you dip your finger in the holy water font at main door, and on gable of entrance to right? In the meantime the building used as a temporary chapel had collapsed, and the Friars were obliged to make use of an old brewery, at £10 a year, ‘within a stone's throw of the site of the new church. 30 feet by 15ft. Why couldn't they move into the new church?

There were difficulties about the opening of the church. Bishop Walsh, who gave permission had died and the new bishop Kelly felt peaved that the friars did not consult him about the new church. When the time came for the official opening towards the end of 1824, the bishop refused to open it and had the doors nailed and barred. The people still attended in the barn just a few yards from the new church. The friars got nowhere with the bishop despite efforts. The provincial Fr. O'Connor wrote to Rome and they answered him with a letter calling on the bishop, for the sake of peace and religion to open and bless the new church. The bishop was visiting Dungarvan parish, and happened to meet the provincial in the sacristy. You can imagine that meeting. The provincial gave him the letter but got no good out of him and said he'd reply himself. The provincial said it was up to himself to reply, and hoped this would be the end of the dispute which was going on for five years. 'Maybe the dispute might go on for another five years' was the bishop's parting shot! So another appeal to Rome. The reply was favourable in a letter on October 17th from Cardinal Cappallari of the Propaganda Fide to Bishop Kelly. They decided that the Bishop was to be written to, to the effect that the church was to be opened. And that the Augustinian Superiors should by letter, and also verbally through Fr. John Wall, Prior, apologise to the Bishop for not having asked his consent to the building of the church. They should beg him to forget the controversy and resolve the religious into favour. Unfortunately Bishop Kelly died October 8th and didn't receive the letter. What happened was, one day while leading a funeral, rain came suddenly and heavily. He was lightly clad, and on his return he neglected to change his clothes. The cold he got from it aggravated the palsy in his neck and he died after a few hours illness. How would he have reacted we won't know.

The P.P. of Dungarvan at the time was Fr. Foran and he later became bishop. At the end of 1829 he cheerfully gave the required permission and the new church was officially opened for worship. This church had a thatched roof which caved in in 1853, and Fr Crane raised the walls seven feet all round and put a slate roof on the church. The tower however had not yet been built. This was built while Fr. Toomey was prior in 1858 and we are told that it was fitted with a ‘sweet-toned bell' which later cracked and was replaced by the present bell. The boys chapel was added at a later time in 1947, to cater for the boarders who attended the now established St. Augustine's College. We can take the place for granted. Over the years people have shown allegiance to this church. Here they were able to pray, feel welcome, comfortable, pour out their troubles at quiet times, light candles and gather to celebrate the Sunday Mass. We give thanks for all that, and we pray that those of us who come here now will still find it a faithful friend, with open doors to welcome and nourish us in many ways.

Adapted from 'Journey of an Abbey 1292-1972': History of the Augustinians in Dungarvan, by Thomas C. Butler, O.S.A. Published by the Good Counsel Press, Ballyboden, Dublin. Printed by the Dungarvan Observer.

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Contact Us

Find out how to contact the Augustinian Friary in Dungarvan. A location map for our church can be found in this section.
Saint Augustine

Saint Augustine

Read a short biography of Saint Augustine the man who founded the Augustinian Order.
Vocations

Vocations

This section of the web site provides useful information if you feel you have a vocation to become an Augustinian.