A Quick Tour of Christ Church Delgany
You might like to walk around the church and look at some of the windows, monuments and other features. Start by entering the church through the porch doors and turn left.
You will notice the fine stained glass windows in the church that infuse the building with a gentle mixture of colour and light.
The first window is of Joshua marching around the walls of Jericho, a military theme, commemorating those who died in the Boer War.
The Good Samaritan window by Catherine O’Brien (1881-1963) is on the west side of the church and dates from the early days of An Tur Gloine, an important Irish stained glass workshop. The window is a bold and confident work and shows the artist at her very best.
The next window is another military theme with a list of those who died in World War I.
The Font (originally in the old church) was presented to the parish in 1727, by the Earl of Meath (Killruddery). The font is inscribed, in Latin around the top edge.
CHAWORTH BRABAZON COMES MIDENSIS DEDIT MDCCXXVI
The Font is scooped out of a large block of black Kilkenny limestone, which contains large white brachiopod shells. These are the remains of sea shells that lived in the warm shallow waters of the Carboniferous period.
Kilkenny Limestone is frequently called marble on account of its being capable of taking a good polish, but marble is really a limestone that has been heavily metamorphosed, and this stone has not been altered.
Originally part of the previous church, (situated in the old graveyard on the bend coming into Delgany from the N11), It was moved to the present church when the building was completed. It is the oldest article on view in the church building.
A marble tablet, placed in the church to the memory of Capt. Clement Robertson, VC Tank Corps, who was killed in action in 1917, is on the wall by the font.
There is also a plaque in memory of Revd. James Owen Hannay who was appointed curate in 1890. He later became famous as the author of many popular novels, writing under the pen name, George A. Birmingham. An account of some of his experiences during his curacy in Delgany appear in his autobiography, ‘Pleasant Places’.
The Chancel window, at the top of the church behind the Holy Table, depicts the symbols of the Eucharist and is extremely decorative, representing flowers and fruit, and, in the centre panel, grapes and wheat.
The carved teak paneling behind the Holy Table was erected as recently as June 1914 to the memory of members of the Hassard family of Bellfield.
The cross on the chancel window was designed by Avril Price Gallagher and given by the Price family in memory of Archdeacon Cecil Johnston Price, who was Rector of this parish from 1969 to 1994.
On the wall to the right of the chancel over the sound system, there is a brass plaque commemorating a member of the famous Wellesley family, related to the Duke of Wellington. Major E H C Wellesley’s son Major V C W Wellesley, MC was accidently killed in 1916. The brass plague was erected by the officers, NCO’s and the men of the 178th Tunnelling Company Royal Engineers, who had been under his command in France, 1915-1916.
You might notice a memorial to a man who died as a prisoner of the Japanese during the second World War. Often, in a case like that, it would not have been possible to find a body so this would be his only memorial.
The Stoney Window was erected by Lt. Col. & Mrs. Stoney, who lived in The Downs House, in memory of their daughter, who died aged sixteen. It is unusual to have an image of a family member depicted in a stained-glass window. More usually they are of saints or biblical scenes.
To the left of the La Touche Monument, is a small stained-glass panel.
The scene depicted is the women’s visit to the Tomb and the encounter with the Angel. This is a Georgian window and is thought to be by the celebrated 18th century Irish artist Thomas Jervais, a native of Dublin who was of Huguenot descent.
The La Touche Monument stands exactly opposite the western entrance. It was given in memory of David La Touche.
The monument was executed by John Hickey, a well-known Irish artist. It stands 24 ft high, and is very striking.
On the entablature are three medallions. The central represents the Right Honourable David La Touche. Underneath are likenesses, of Peter, James and John La Touche. They are in Roman clothing in attitudes of grief at the passing of their father. On one side stands the figure of Mrs. Peter La Touche holding a cornucopia, a symbol of prosperity.
On a broad tablet beneath is the inscription
‘Sacred to the memory of David La Touche. Born December MDCCIV and died MDCCLXXXV’
and written on the sides is the following epitaph:
‘He added unfeigned integrity of principle to a mild and benevolent nature, and the most engaging gentleness of manners, but the purity of his mind was most strongly evinced in his constant and unaffected piety. His life though long and prosperous, escaped alas, too transitory. Riches, in his hand became a general blessing. His profusion was a disinteresting liberality to the deserving. His luxury, the relief and protection of the poor and defenceless’.
The monument is enclosed by a railing, outside of which the female children, adopted by Mrs. La Touche, sat during the service.
Extract from Vestry minutes on 4th October 1790:
‘His Grace the Lord Archbishop of Dublin, disapproved of the Communion Table being placed against the base of the La Touche, monument, and insisted that, since the monument was too massive to be moved, the Holy Table should be moved to the north end of the Church where it is today’.
This explains the unusual orientation of the church, which faces north while most churches face East, towards Jerusalem.
One has to go back as far as the Battle of the Boyne to find the first connection of the La Touche family in Ireland. They were Huguenots of French protestant origin. David Digues La Touche was born in 1671. He served in Caillamotte’s Huguenot regiment and came to Ireland, serving under William, Prince of Orange, helping him in his struggle against King James, serving till the end of the war, when his regiment was disbanded in Dublin.
In partnership with another Huguenot, they set up a silk and poplin industry in Dublin, which soon became famous. He also set up a banking system said to have been the first of its kind in Dublin. David died in 1745 and was succeeded by his son, also called David. In 1753, he purchased Ballydonough and built his fine mansion, Bellevue. The youngest of his three sons, Peter, came into possession of Bellevue and it was he who built the present church, completed in 1789.
(Further information on the La Touche family can be found in ‘The La Touche Family in Ireland’ by Michael McGinley published in 2004.)
On the right of the Monument is the Virtues window, showing Faith Hope and Charity, by the distinguished Swedish artist, Carl Alquist (1848-1924). Alquist trained under, and worked with, the eminent stained glass artist, Henry Holiday (1837-1927). Charity is a re-drawing of a Henry Holiday cartoon, which was first used in Westminster Abbey in 1869.
The Rose Window, at the back of the church over the organ, was erected in 1887 and compliments the Chancel window with bright rich colours and designs. It is best viewed from the Chancel steps. A Rose window with concentric circles, is a symbol and image of the creation and the created universe.
The organ was originally at the front of the church where the font is now. It was totally restored in April 1993.
There are a number of pillars in church holding up the roof. Each of these has a differently styled corbel or capital on top of the pillar. These are in the naturalistic style, with flowers and leaves varying from corbel to corbel, and are believed to have been carried out by Harrison & Son, a Dublin firm of Monumental Sculptors.
The History of the Church
Before the close of the 5th century a religious cell was formed by St. Mogoroc at this place called Dergne or Delgne. At the end of the 14th Century the patronage of Delgany (the appointment of the Rector) was exercised by the Crown.
After the death of King Richard, the Archbishop of Dublin got the patronage. We are fortunate to have the Parish records or ‘Vestry Books’ dating from 1664 (now in the custody of the RCB Library in Rathgar).
Inside the cover of this book appears a list of the Rectors of Delgany from 1664. There are photographs of many of the recent rectors in the vestry room off the chancel, (not generally accessible to the public).
(A list of rectors is on the last page of this guide.)
The present church is in the later English style and its four-pinnacled square tower forms a conspicuous land-mark, visible for miles around. It was designed by Whitmore Davis, a Co Antrim architect and completed in 1789. In 1832 it was enlarged at a cost of £1200. In 1869 extensive alterations and repairs were undertaken.
The completed building was insured for £4000. On the night of 2nd January 1870, a fire broke out, in consequence of one of the timbers of the roof having ignited from too close contact with a flue. The roof of the aisle was completely burnt out and, in order to save the remainder of the building, all the pews were removed as well as the front of the gallery and the organ.
The Insurance Company paid out the sum of £893.7.10d. The repairs cost £1000. It was then that the Chancel and Vestry Room were added.
Previous churches were sited at the Old Burial Ground (beside The Delgany Café and bakery) where the remains of the former church can (just about) be seen. Stone from that church was re-used in the building of the present church.
The steeple of the church rises 30m over the western entrance and contains a clock and a bell. Beneath the dial plate of the clock is inserted a stone tablet bearing the arms of the La Touche family and the following lines:
‘THIS CHURCH WAS BUILT
IN A.D. 1789
OF THINE OWN DO I GIVE
UNTO THEE O MY GOD’.
The Clock is situated in the tower and is not on view to the public as several flights of ladders must be climbed to reach it. Historically, this is one of the most important turret clocks in Ireland. Everything on this clock is beautifully crafted and well finished. It is wound by hand, twice a week, by volunteers.
Church records would indicate that this turret clock, by John Crofthwaite, dates from 1791. Crofthwaite was Ireland’s most prominent clockmaker at the end of the 18th century.
Possibly his most famous clock was the Custom’s House clock in Dublin, but sadly, this was destroyed in the troubles of 1921.
The Delgany clock was acquired by Peter La Touche, and paid for by the sale or rent of the pews in the church.
In 1989, the clock was in poor condition but was restored by Julian Cosby, (Antiquarian Horologist).
The restoration of the clock was given in memory of Hugh & Lily Mc Lindon. Hugh was People’s Churchwarden for 34 years and was very interested in the clock, which he maintained for many years.
The Church Bells
One of the bells in the original church was transferred to the present church in 1789 but by 1867 it was reported that the old bell met with an accident and was cracked. In the workshop of a Mr Murphy in Thomas Street, Dublin, a new bell was cast weighting 7 cwt. which dates the present bell to 1878.
In 1972, a gift of a chime of eight bells was given by Mr. Noel Kennedy and members of the Cherry family in memory of Wilna Kennedy (nee Cherry).
A plaque on the left side of the choir reads:
‘THE BELLS IN THIS CHURCH WERE GIVEN IN LOVING MEMORY OF WILNA DELAMAINE KENNEDY, DAUGHTER OF RICHARD AND MARY CHERRY, WHO DIED ON JUNE 3rd 1970.’
The chimes were made by Whitechapel of London, a firm well known for having cast the famous ‘Big Ben’. Wilna’s father, Lord Chief Justice Richard Cherry, was a distinguished campanologist and was the first president of the Irish Association of Change Ringers in 1898 and is remembered as the donor of the ‘Cherry Trebles’ in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin.
A Roll of Honour,
inscribed with the names of 91 people who served in the First World War, hangs in the outer porch of the church.
RECTORS OF DELGANY
1398-1403 William Payn
1403-1412 Henry Fuytby
1452-1497 Donald Mackanill
1497-1550 John O’Byrne
1550-1560 Richard Johnston
1560-1586 Thomas Field
1586-1602 Edward Loftus
1602-1610 Thomas Meredith
1610-1616 John Carter
1616-1629 Nicholas Robinson
1629-1634 Thomas Gilbert
1634-1660 Robert Parry
1660-1682 Richard Banks
1682-1724 Ralph Rule
1724-1729 William Caldwell
1729-1748 Francis Corbet
1748-1766 Sir Richard Hoby Bart
1766-1788 Thomas Smyth
1788-1798 Joseph Stock
1798-1804 Robert Vicars
1804-1810 Thomas Trench
1810-1819 James Dunne
1819-1848 William Cleaver
1848-1859 William James West
1850-1888 Lewis Henry Streane
1888-1895 John Joseph Robinson
1895-1906 Richard Douglas Bluett
1906-1935 William Weir
1935-1939 Joseph Cummins
1939-1952 Richard Bird
1952-1958 Billy Wynne
1959-1969 Noel Willoughby
1969-1994 Cecil Johnston Price.
1994-1997 David Muir
1998- present Nigel Waugh