Former Dublin seminary opens up for Culture Night 2013

17 Sep 2013

Why was Bing Crosbie writing to Archbishop John Charles McQuaid in 1961? What went on in the 600 illegal beer houses in Dublin in 1863? What attempts were made to stop starving children being deported to the UK during the Lockout? The answers are contained in an array of amazing historical documents which will go on display to the public this Friday night (20th) as part of the Archdiocese of Dublin’s first ever participation in Culture Night.

Rooms at the former seminary in HolyCrossCollege in Clonliffe, in Drumcondra, are being turned into an exhibition space for the evening, which will include an exhibition of 20th Century religious art from private collections and recitals of Sacred Music.

The Dublin Diocese has one of the largest archives in the country. Among the documents going on display is a parchment from 1558. Hugh Curwen, then Archbishop of Dublin, who expressed his approval of the marriage of Henry VIII to Ann Boylen, issued the parchment. He would later declare himself a Protestant and would be accused by the Archbishop of Armagh of “serious moral delinquency”.

To mark the anniversary of the 1913 Lockout, Diocesan Archivist, Noelle Dowling, has made available a significant amount of documents chronicling the role of the Catholic Church in the dispute, which has been the subject of some controversy. The public are invited to read some of the documents themselves to see the work that was being carried out quietly by various groups in the city to help distressed families and children.  They include a letter from Archbishop Walsh, Archbishop of Dublin at the time, trying to stop a Dublin woman from raising money to deport children of poor Dublin families to the UK. Archbishop Walsh had great sympathy for the strikers, a view not shared by some of his fellow clergy.  A number of the letters in the exhibition are from +Walsh’s secretary, Mgr. Michael Curran, and while being very descriptive regarding the events of the day, it is obvious Mgr. Curran’s sentiments lay with the employers.

There will be an art exhibition of 20th Century Religious Art including the work of Jack Hanlon, Mainie Jellett, Patrick Pye, Evie Hone and Imogen Stuart from private collections. This will be followed by a recital of Sacred Music with the Dublin Diocesan Music Group, soloists & special guest instrumentalists on harp and cello with music from Aichinger to Saint-Saens in addition to contemporary Irish composers.

Doors open at 6pm and talks and exhibitions are free.


  • 6.15 p.m. and 7.15 p.m. Illustrated talk by Noelle Dowling, Dublin Diocesan Archivist and selected readings from StrumpetCity by Margaret Ó Dálaigh.
  • 6.45 p.m. and 7.45 p.m The Light Within  Browse a collection of 20th century religious art including the work of Jack Hanlon, Mainie Jellett, Patrick Pye, Evie Hone and Imogen Stuart from private collectionsGuided talk by Damian McNeice
  • 8.15 p.m. – 9.15 p.m. Music Moments  Enjoy a recital of Sacred Music with the Dublin Diocesan Music Group, Soloists & Special Guest Instrumentalists Denise Kelly (Harp), David Doyle (Cello), directed by Pat O’Donoghue. Music by Aichinger, Charpentier,  Handel, Mozart, Pärt, Rachmaninoff, Roberton, Saint-Saens in addition to contemporary Irish composers.
  • Holy Cross College (also known as Clonliffe College), located at the junction of Clonliffe Road  & Jones Road, Drumcondra was opened 1st September 1859 as the Catholic Diocesan Seminary for Dublin by Cardinal Paul Cullen (1803–78). The College is adjacent to the residence of the Archbishop of Dublin, just north of Croke Park Stadium.  The Mater Dei Institute of Education is also on the same campus.  A number of Dublin Diocesan bodies such as Crosscare are based there.
  • Further Information: Annette O Donnell, 087 8143462.