Created By: ULSARA
Focal point of the road is the church which was originally built as the chapel for the Molyneux Asylum for Blind Females, opened in 1862 after moving here from Peter Street. In an area with a rapidly growing Church of Ireland population, it was attended by many of the local residents.
An early, rather reluctant, churchgoer was George Bernard Shaw who then lived in 1 Lr. Hatch Street. He attended Sunday School there 'to sit motionless and speechless in your best suit in a dark stuffy church... hating the clergyman as a sanctimonious bore and dreading the sexton,' (Vivian Igoe, A Literary History Guide to Dublin). The church received the dedication of 'Christ Church, Leeson Park', in 1873 and in 1892 it became a separate Church of Ireland parish, though it remained under the patronage of the Molyneux Home until 1961 and the parish clergy are still responsible for the chaplaincy of the home today. The architect was Rawson Carroll who designed other houses on the road, including Leeson Park House (1860). The apse is decorated in the high Victorian manner by Sibthorpes.
Life was not always quiet and orderly in this peaceful parish church and the then Rector in 1916, Rev. J. Percy Phair (late Bishop of Ossoty), described the effects of the Rising in his parish. He and one of his three curates went daily to Balls bridge for bread which they brought back in a bolster and distributed to the Molyneux Home and elsewhere. Once, the Rector was awakened in the early hours of the morning when the bodies of two of his p a rishione rs were brought to his rectory, lying on straw on an open lorry. Because he had a permit to proceed when and where necessary, he cycled into the city to buy coffins from a funeral establishment in Aungier Street. It was only when he knocked loudly and gave his name and business that the proprietor, with a pitchfork in his hand ready to attack if necessary, opened the door. The body of another parishioner who had been killed accidentally was found in the city morgue but not before the Rector had inspected 15 graves in Glasnevin Cemetery in an effort to find the body.
The decline in numbers in Christ Church could have meant that it would face closure, the fate of many other churches in the city. However, the Methodists lost their church in Stephen's Green in a fire and moved here in the 1970s, sharing the church. They built the fine new hall, designed by Michael Scott, architect, in the grounds and called it after their founder, John Wesley.
Adapted from 'Four Roads to Dublin: A History of Rathmines, Ranelagh and Leeson Street' by Deirdre Kelly, The O'Brien Press, Dublin 2001.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Upper Leeson Street Area Dublin Walking Tour