Parish of the Annunciation Rathfarnham
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Our Parish
The History

The first recorded church at Rathfarnham was established in the 11th century under the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Canterbury and was dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul. This was located in the old graveyard at Rathfarnham village, close to the Texaco garage. The original church was probably constructed
of wood and built by the Vikings. A later church was built of stone in about the 16th century and part of that structure still exists.

Later in the 17th century, with Catholic religious practice gone underground, there were Mass Houses in 'Ballynescorney, Balliman, Killinarden and Jobstone.' Mass priests were reported to be lodging in the houses of 'Adam Talbot, Barnaby Rely of Finnin, Mrs. Ellenore Talbot of Templeogue and Pierce Archbold of Knocklin'.

The first reference to a Mass House in Rathfarnham was 'in 1697 the Mass House at Rathfarnham was served by Timothy Kelly, then living in Oldcastle'.Parish of the Annunciation Rathfarnham Birds eye view

The first priest mentioned as living at Rathfarnham was the Rev. Nicholas Gibbons in 1730. It was he who acquired the cottage by the Abhainn Dohair (Owendore) river which was probably an old Mass House. This cottage was on the site of the present St. Mary's Presbytery, but was set back from the road and was not visible from the Willbrook Road. The approach to this Mass House was by a 'Mass Path', shown on old drawings of the time which ran from the then Butterfield Lane, behind what is now Glenbrook, and which crossed over the river at that point.

Around 1730, Fr. Gibbons transformed the cottage into a chapel and it is thought likely that it was he who removed the ancient granite holy water font from the derelict chapel of Saints Peter and Paul at Rathfarnham village and placed it at the entrance to his new chapel. This is the font which currently stands at the entrance to our present parish church. It was decided, about 1870, to erect a new parish church on a prominent site, where the Willbrook Road connected with Rathfarnham village – and where, some decades earlier, was believed to be the original location of 'The Yellow House' . The site was donated to the parish by a local landowner, Mr. Henry Hodgens J.P. and there is a brass plate to him on the first pew in our parish church.




Rathfarnham Holy Water Font  

The launch of the Church Building project is reported in the Saturday 12 July 1873 Edition of the weekly
Irish Star and Catholic Record newspaper in which it is recorded that a meeting of the Catholic inhabitants of Rathfarnham, - with Father Michael O'Connor the Parish Priest as Chairman - was held in the (then) parish
church "for the purpose of originating a fund and to adopt other means for the erection of a new parochial church for the parish.; …..subscriptions to a considerable amount had been handed in". It was stated at the meeting that "Mr Hodgens had offered a site for the new chapel"

In July and August 1873 advertisements appeared in the newspapers advertising a "Bazaar and Grand Drawing of Prizes" in aid of the finds for the erection of the new Church to be held on 25 & 26 August in the grounds of the "Church of St. Joseph, Roundtown. The first of the 14 prizes listed was "a useful horse trained to harness and quiet to ride" with the second prize being "a mantal piece clock on a massive marble pedestal". The Irish Times carried a report on the first day of the Bazaar stating that "the tables were supplied with various and costly ornaments and were, we are glad to know generously supported by the large and fashionable attendance that crowded the grounds".

The church was dedicated to the Annunciation and the foundation stone was laid by Cardinal Cullen on 25 April 1875, Easter Monday.

Monday 29 March 1875. The Freeman's Journal reported on the ceremony in which "His Eminence..was assisted by a large number of clergy and a crowded assemblage of the parishioners, including many ladies and gentlemen residing in the neighbourhood…At the proper time the foundation stone, which was suspended from a shears was slowly lowered and His eminence the Lord Cardinal was handed by the Rev. Robert Meyler, the worthy pastor, a beautifully designed and manufactured silver trowel It was also stated that "a glass jar containing a parchment scroll on which was inscribed the date of the ceremonial and the names of those who prominently took part in it and the current coins of the realm were deposited in the place prepared to receive it".. The Cardinal told the crowd that "a great work for the promotion of religion and the glory of God had been commenced " and that he was "sure that all that will be required for its completion will be generously subscribed by the parishioners whose children's children from generation to generation will receive countless and priceless blessings in the church".

On 15 March an official Correspondent of the Freeman's Journal wrote an Article following his visit to the new church which was highly laudatory of the building erected "near the Yellow House and on part of the Elysian demesne of Henry Hodgens". Also highly laudatory was the report carried by the Freeman's Journal on the Dedication Ceremony in prose such as the following: "The sanctuary yesterday was a picture of brightness and freshness; vases of richly coloured flowers, disposed by a skilful hand stood out against the dazzling pure whiteness of the cunningly carved marble of the altar and tabernacle and the sun borrowing varied tints from the coloured windows through which it shone gave a needed warmth to the mass of marble and stone.

The Parish Church 1900-1940A very similar note was struck in the Sermon of the renowned Dominican preacher Fr. Thomas Burke, given at the conclusion of the Mass, who spoke of the new church as having been built "to be a palace for Jesus Christ" in which every stone had that day been that day "consecrated and blessed and invested by the infinite power of God with a certain sanctity" The church had "begun in prayer and was "built up in hope and holiness". Not only would the voice of Jesus Christ resound there… but every form of grace that was necessary to fill souls they would find there" and" surely for those who, with kind hearts and generous hands had laboured in this work, ''…God, who is not outdone in generosity, will build and prepare for them a place of everlasting joy and glory in his own bright and everlasting heaven".

The present parish church was finished in 1879. The architect was Mr. George C. Ashlinn (son-in-law of Pugin) and the building contractor was Messrs. Meade and Sons. The altar, in marble and Caen stone was designed and erected by Messrs. Farrell of Dublin. The newspapers of the day describe the church as 'Early French, Gothic. The overall cost of the church was £9847 – 7 – 0.

The first baptism, some time later, was of Rose Anne Meade of Willbrook.

At the time the extent of the parish covered, in addition to Rathfarnham, the districts of Ballyboden, Kilmashogue, Kilakee, Harolds Grange, Tallaght, Old Bawn, Tibradden, Terenure and Crumlin. The most unusual feature of the church is the stained glass windows which incorporate the Stations of the Cross and which were put in around the turn of the century. They are the work of Maison Eugene Denis of Nantes and date from a time when there was great enthusiasm for things Breton in Ireland. The colours are bright and over-strong compared with the older glass in the other windows.

  The Parish Church shortly after its opening in 1878.

The Parish Church shortly after its opening in 1878.
(From the Lawrence Collection, © National Library of Ireland).

Up to the 1950s the parish of Rathfarnham still covered huge areas of South County Dublin. The late Mgr. O'Donnell stated at the time that a rough estimate of the extent could be gauged from a map if the point of a compass was placed at Hell Fire Club and the radius extended to the Dodder at Rathfarnham Bridge the ensuing circle would indicate the parish. At times of First Communions and Confirmations buses would be used to transport people from outlying areas of the parish such as Bohernabreena.

Adjoining parishes constituted from Rathfarnham include – Crumlin (1781), Terenure (1894), Churchtown (1965), Ballyroan (1968) and Ballyboden (1973).

Present day the Church of the Annunciation is grouped with Ballyboden parish, Ballyroan parish and Churchtown.

Rev. Fr. Martin Noone is the Moderator



Extract from The Freeman's Journal March 1878
Parish Priests


Yesterday, appropriately on the Feast of the Annunciation, the new parish church of the Annunciation, Rathfarnham was solemnly dedicated by the Most Rev. Dr. McCabe, Bishop of Gadara, assisted by alarge body of clergy, and in the presence of a crowded and fashionable
congregation. The building is Gothic in its style, and has been erected by Messrs. Meade and Sons, from the design of Mr. G. C. Ashlin. A description of the church has already appeared in these columns, but it may be mentioned that the aisles are separated from the nave by massive columns of Aberdeen granite, one aisle has the Altar of the Immaculate Conception, And the other the Altar of the Sacred Heart. The chancel in which the nave ends is octagonal and lighted by stained glass windows bearing figures of the Virgin and Child, and of St. Peter, St. Paul, St. Joseph, St. Brigid and St. Patrick. The altar is a beautiful achievement in marble and Caen stone and comes from the works of Messrs. Farrell of this city. The communionrails are of Italian marble with brass gates.
The roof is of painted and carved wood. The sanctuary yesterday was a picture of brightness and freshness; vases of richly coloured flowers, disposed by a skilful hand, stood out against the dazzling pure whiteness of the cunningly carved marble of the altar and tabernacle, and the sun borrowed varied tints from the coloured windows through which it shone gave a needed warmth to the masses of marble and stone. To so much inanimate beauty was added the golden robes of the bishop who presided, and of the clergy taking part in the function of the Mass. The white surplices of the assisting clergy, the black habits of the Augustinian Friars, and the black relieved with white of the Dominican order, the lights on the altar the perfume of the incense, and the rich music of the choir going collectively to form the splendid ceremonial with which the new edifice was baptised into ranks of the Catholic churches of the world. When the prescribed circuits of the church walls, externally and internally, had been performed the solemn High Mass began in the presence of Most Rev. Dr. McCabe, Bishop of Gadara, who sat enthroned on the Gospel side of the altar.

The celebrant was the Rev. M. Doyle, Adm., Westland Row; deacon Rev. B. Dennan; sub-deacon, Rev. J. O'Molloy; master of ceremonies, Rev. John Hackett; assistant priests at the throne, Right Rev. Monsignor Woodlock and Rev. Thomas Fagan. Among the clergy present in the sanctuary were the Very Rev. Dr. Verdon, President, Clonliffe Seminary; Rev. Robert Meyler, P.P., Rathfarnham; Rev. P. Hanly C.C.; Rev. J. Keon C.C.; Rev. M. Walsh C.C.; Very Rev. T. N. Burke, O.P. ; Very Rev. Dr. Conway, O.P.; Rev. F. Corcoran, O.P.; Very Rev. John Hutchinson, O.S.A.; Rev. James Murphy, O.S.A.; and a number of students of Clonliffe. At the conclusion of the Mass the Very Rev. Thomas N. Burke preached from the following text in the Apocalypse: - ' Behold the Tabernacle of God with men, and He shall dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and He, the Lord, in the midst of them shall be their Father.' Having shown how this text was first fulfilled in the Blessed Virgin by the Mystery of the Incarnation, and how it was secondly fulfilled in the establishment of the Christian Church by the mystery of the Holy Eucharist, Father Burke said it was a third time fulfilled in the consecration of this new church, which was built to be a palace for Jesus Christ. Many months had passed away in the preparation of it, and to-day He came for the first time from His high place in Heaven, and He had taken up His dwelling on that altar, there to remain. He came as He came to Mary, and as He came to the Church for all the purposes of sanctification. His church, in a certain sense, might boast of its Immaculate Conception, for on the day the earth was opened to receive the first stone of its foundation the earth was sanctified by prayer and with Holy Water, that very corner-stone sunk down deep, never to be seen by man, bore upon it unction and a sign of the cross of Jesus Christ.

Every stone of it had been to-day consecrated and blessed, and invested by the infinite power of God with a certain sanctity which Almighty God was able to communicate even to the material creation. Thus it was begun in prayer, built up in hope and holiness, and to-day consecrated in a solemn manner, blessed and sanctified. But in addition to this, as in the case of the Blessed Virgin and of the church, not only was there the grace of Immaculate Conception and the grace of sanctity, but there were a thousand other graces. All that the ingenious mind of the cultivated child of art could devise was around them – all the beauty that could be brought forth in stone and marble was here – all the beauty that could elevate the heart, whilst it pleased the eye in stateliness and majesty of proportions – all that the blessed light of God's heaven could render of cheerfulness and joy brightened this church to-day. Those storied panes, which reminded them of the great saints showered blessings down; this beautiful altar, so elaborate in every detail, so exquisite even in points where the eye would rarely feast upon its beauty, told, that it was raised not so much for man as for God.

The Lord Himself would remain in this tabernacle all day long waiting for His children to come to Him in their joy and sanctify their joy, and in their sorrow that He might help them carry their cross. And throughout the long nights, with the lamp slowly wasting its life away in a golden flame, still He, the light of heaven, remained for our love, and within those silent walls legions of angels would pay their homage to God until the morning broke, and the sound of the bell called faithful souls to take their place. Not only would the voice of Jesus Christ resound there – for no man, unless an anointed and consecrated priest dare speak there – but every form of grace that was necessary to fill souls they would find there. This spot of earth was now consecrated for evermore, this building had now found its proper object for which it was raised. He was come and they had come to offer Him a welcome. Father Burke concluded – Let us rejoice and be glad! When the prophetic eye of David, actuated by love, looked down into the future and saw the Church when he saw it only in that strong fancy of his, he was rejoiced and cried out, 'I have loved, Oh Lord, the beauty of Thy houses. I have rejoiced in the things that have been told me, we shall go into the house of our God.' That which he saw only dimly we have beheld to-day. We have saluted our God. He has come to remain with us to make us His people, and let us in the joy of our hearts accept and receive and cherish Him as our God. And surely for those who, with kind hearts and generous hands have laboured in this work which has happily terminated to-day to raise up this beautiful thing for God, I promise them God, who is not outdone in generosity, will build and prepare a place of exceeding joy and glory for them in His own bright and everlasting Heaven.

Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament followed the sermon and concluded the day ceremonial. The music of the Mass and Benediction, which was faultlessly beautiful, was rendered by a large choir led by Mrs. Manly, who was assisted by Herr Elsner, the celebrated violinist, and Mr. Leahy, the organist of Dominic Street.


1697 Timothy Kelly  
1730 Nicholas Gibbons  
1750 Owen Smyth  
1766 Robert Bethel To St. Audoens 1781
1781 William Ledwidge died 1810
1810 Nicholas Kearns died 1832
1832 Laurence Roche died 1851*
1851 William McDonnell Resigned 1864
1865 Daniel Byrne died 1868*
1868 Michael O'Connor Appt Bishop of Ballarat 1874
1874 Robert Meyler died 1894
1894 Thomas Kennedy died 1900
1900 Pierce Gossan to Donnybrook 1909
1909 Joseph O'Keeffe died 1925
1925 Thomas McNevin died 1941
1941 John McGuirk died 1948
1948 Thomas O'Donnel died 1973
1973 Patrick Tuohy to Pastor Emeritus 1986 died 15 April 1994
1986 Joseph Hanlon retired 2008 to Assistant Priest. Died June 2010.
2008 Martin Noone Appointed Moderator of Ballyroan, Churchtown and Rathfarnham.

*Both buried in the grounds of the earlier Rathfarnham parish church and re-interred in the grounds of the current church.

SourcesThe Parish Church during a wedding
Tony, Corcoran
Compiled by Tony Corcoran
Rathfarnham Parish Liturgy Group.
© Rathfarnham Parish Liturgy Group 2006.

The Building of the Parochial Church in Rathfarnham
By Gregory O'Connor March 2008

Ronan, V Rev Myles, PP, D. Litt, FRHist.S
Collected mss vol 2, written 1953 (not published –
but presented to Dr.
Charles McQuaid, Archbishop of Dublin)
(Currently in Dublin Diocesan Archives)

The Irish Builder 1877 and 1878
The Freeman's Journal March 26 1878
Dublin Diocesan Guidebook.
Rathfarnham Parish Newsletter, various dates

Ball: A History of the County Dublin Vol 2. (pub 1903)
O'Riordan, Rev. William: Reportium Novum Dublin Diocesan Historical Records Vol 3, no. 1 (pub 1962)

Ball, Francis Elrington. A History of the County Dublin.
Vol. 2. Published 1903
Reproduced 1995.

Dublin Diocesan Archives:
Church Buildings Diocese of Dublin 1800-1916
Irish Catholic Directory February 1869 p296
O'Riordan, Rev. William. Reportium Novum Vol. 3, no. 1 Published 1962.
Visitation Documents 1830
Ronan, V. Rev. Myles, PP, D.Litt, FRHist.S Collected mss, vol 2. written 1953.
Dublin Diocesan Guidebook
Rathfarnham Parish Newsletter, various.
The Fremman's Journal, March 26 1878.
The Irish Builder 1877 and 1878.

In particular, the assistance and contributions of many parishioners of Rathfarnham is gratefully acknowledged.rrr.

^ Top of Page

Parish Team


Fr. Martin NooneCo-Parish Priest
Fr. Kevin Rowan

Born in the ‘Garden of Ireland’ Rathnew, Co Wicklow. He began his training with the Missionaries of Africa and was ordained in 1990. He ministered in Zambia for a number of years and then in East Canada with the Mic Mac First Nation people. He returned to the Dublin Diocese and was appointed to St Pius X Templeogue and then to Ashford parish Co Wicklow where he ministered for six years.

Margaret Drew, Parish Pastoral WorkerPermanent Deacon
Matt was born in Booterstown Co. Dublin. He is married to Patricia, and they have two children and they live in Churchtown. He was ordained a Permanent Deacon for Dublin Archdiocese in June 2016 and was appointed to serve in Rathfarnham parish by the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin commencing in September 2016.
Parish Pastoral Council

The function of the Parish Pastoral Council is one of leadership and giving direction. It has a role of identifying pastoral priorities and ensuring these priorities are attended to by calling on the members of the parish to use their gifts in response to the needs identified.

The PPC is a voluntary body, consultative by its nature and set up to advise the Parish Priest in the governance of the Parish. It is regulated by the norms laid down by the Archbishop of Dublin. (C.L. 536.)

The council are co-responsible with the parish priest for the being and action of the parish. Our PPC has been in place since 1997 and at present has fifteen members.

The composition of the council are:

  • Ex officio members, all those who by virtue of their office are engaged in full-time pastoral ministry in the parish.
  • Four members elected by the parish community at a Parish Assembly;
  • Four parishioners elected from the geographical areas of the parish;
  • Three appointees of the Parish Priest because of their expertise in particular fields in consultation with the parish team and further consultation with the PPC when deemed necessary.
  • Representatives of the religious communities active in the parish.

PPC Serving Members are as follows: President: Fr. Martin Noone, Chairman: Mark Woods; Secretary: Bairbre Kane. Mairin Heffernan; Pat Baker; Rebecca McGuiness; Sr. Kathleen Murphy FMDM; Sr. Mary Ramsey IBVM; Benny Doyle; Jan Pawelczyk; Kevin Byrne; Jane Brennan; Margaret Drew (Parish Pastoral Worker); Fr. Joseph Ryan (Co Parish Priest) Contact with the PPC may be made through the Parish Office: 01 495 8695

Safegauarding our Children

We in the Parish of the Annunciation, Rathfarnham value and encourage the participation of children and young people in all Parish activities that enhance the spiritual, physical, emotional and social development. We recognise the dignity and rights of all children and are committed to ensuring their protection and safety. In keeping with this, we will do everything in our power to create a safe environment for children and young people in order to secure their protection and enable their full participation in the life of the Church.

We have two CHILD SAFEGUARDING REPRESENTATIVES (Patrick Hanratty and Josephine Heffernan) who have been trained at the Diocesan Child Protection Service. Any one of them can be contacted through the Parish Office – telephone: 01 495 8695 – if you have any worries or concerns.

All complaints of abuse of any kind, sexual, emotional or physical, relating to Parish personal – priests, religious, employees and volunteers – can be made to our representatives at the above telephone number. Such complaints can be also made to the local Health Service Executive Office at Dispensary Lane through the Duty Social Worker (Phone: 01 493 6099) or to Rathfarnham Garda Station on Butterfield Avenue (Phone: 01 666 6500). Complaints can also be made to the Diocesan Child Protection Service in Archbishop’s House by contacting the Director, Mr Andrew Fagan (Office Phone: 01 836 0314 or Direct Line: 01 884 2599).

Other useful Telephone Numbers

Towards Healing (Freefone) 1800 303 416

Samaritan Helpline: 1850 60 9090

Childline: 1850 666 666

Emergency Numbers 999 or 112


Parish Pastoral Centre

Parish Office hours are 10.00am – 12.00pm Monday - Friday

Parish of the Annunciation Rathfarnham Parish Pastoral CentreThe parish Pastoral Centre is located on Willbrook Road. This old building began its life as a boy’s school in January 1842. From 1975 to 1977 it briefly accommodated two classes from St Mary’s Boy’s National School. From 1978 until the opening of the new Tallaght Courthouse in 2000 the building served as a district court. To many locals it is still referred to as the old court house.

The Parish Pastoral Centre was refurbished in the early 2000’s and serves the needs of the parish of Rathfarnham.

The Parish Secretary and the Parish Pastoral Worker both have their offices in the centre. The parish Spiritual Lending Library is also located here and is open from 10.00am- 2.00pm on a Wednesday, once a month after weekend Masses or by arrangement with the parish secretary

The centre is open from 10.00am in the morning and has various activities during the day and evening.

Activities in the Parish Pastoral Centre

  • Tea and Coffee after mass on a Wednesday
  • Mother and Toddlers Group
  • Yoga
  • Speech and Drama
  • Al Anon
  • Charismatic Prayer Group Meeting
  • Bethany GEC meetings and Bethany Parish meetings
  • St Vincent de Paul Meetings
  • Rathfarnham Folk Group rehearsals
  • Parish Choir rehearsals
  • Resident Association Meetings
  • Poetry recitals
  • Parents meetings
  • Various Ministry meeting
  • Various occasional parish activities
  • Pilates
  • Playball

If you wish to enquire about the use of the hall and its meeting room please contact the parish Secretary Bairbre on 01 495 8695 or email

Religious Communities

Loreto (IBVM)
Abbey House, Loreto Terrace, Grange Rd, Rathfarnham
Phone: 01 493 2807

Franciscan Missionaries of the Divine Motherhood
Arus Mhuire 2 Fonthill Abbey Ballyboden Rd, Rathfarnham
Phone: 01 493 4275

St Francis 3 Fonthill Abbey Ballyboden Rd, Rathfarnham
Phone: 01 493 2537


Sisters of St Louis
130 Beaufort Downs, Rathfarnham, Dublin16
Phone: 01 493 4194


Parish Shop/Repository

Parish of the Annunciation Rathfarnham Parish Shop/RepositoryThe Repository was built as part of the refurbishment of the church (2013) and is positioned at the back of the church. It offers a range of religious goods from Mass cards, to religious books/papers, to rosaries. It is staffed by volunteers from the parish and is open for half an hour Monday – Friday after the 10am Mass, Saturday after the 11a.m. Mass and after all Sunday Masses.

If you would like to volunteer to help in the Repository please contact Esther Malone through the parish office 01 495 8695 or email

Volunteers work on a rota basis.

Parish Finance

Finance Committee

Parish of the Annunciation Rathfarnham Parish FinanceThe ultimate responsibility for the financial administration of the parish lies with the Parish Priest.  In Rathfarnham, a Finance Committee was established in 2012 to provide financial and general business advice to the Parish Priest. The membership of the Parish Finance Committee includes Fr Martin and five parishioners from a range of professional backgrounds. The Chairperson, who has experience in financial and business matters was appointed by Fr Martin. Appointments to the Finance Committee are for a three-year term and no person can remain on the Finance Committee for more than two consecutive terms.

The key advisory roles of the committee are:

  • The maintenance of proper books of account and implementation of effective financial and internal controls.
  • The preparation of annual statements of Receipts and Payments.
  • The preparation of an annual parish budget.
  • The appointment of a Financial Accountant to compile the Statement of Receipts and Payments for subsequent consolidation by the diocese.
  • Fund-raising policy in consultation with the recently established Fund Raising Committee.
  • Maintenance of parish property and ensuring appropriate insurance arrangements are in place.

The committee can be contacted through the Parish Office either by telephone 01 495 8695 or by email at

Fundraising Committee

Parish of the Annunciation Rathfarnham Fund Raising CommitteeThe fundraising Committee was set up in 2013 by the parish team on the advice of the Finance Committee, to implement a number of initiatives to raise the funds necessary to support the finances for the extensive refurbishment of the church.

This will involve the committee carrying out a number of events, on a varying scale, with the dual purpose both of raising the funds necessary to meet our additional financial commitments while also encouraging active participation amongst a wide range of parishioners. Fundraising is not only about money but plays an important role in creating a cohesive parish community where a sense of belonging, social relationships and mutual support for each other and families can develop.

The membership of the Fundraising Committee includes Fr. Martin P.P and a number of parishioners with experience in fundraising, marketing and advertising.

Further details in relation to the activities of the Fundraising Committee will be made available in the New Year. The fundraising committee can be contacted through the parish office 01 495 8695 or email      

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