Kill O The Grange is the unusual name for an area near Blackrock in South County Dublin. The name is taken from the Irish language and means Church of the Granary, as the area was noted for its grain farms which supplied food for the great Monastic foundation of Christ Church Cathedral around which the city of Dublin was built. For over a 1000 years there has been a Christian Community in Kill O’The Grange. The present day Church is a lively and growing Christian Community housed in a beautiful 19th century church building.
Kill O’ the Grange parish church was consecrated in 1864 by the then Archbishop of Dublin, Most Rev. Dr. Chevenix Trench, as a chapel of ease for Monkstown, under the curacy of the Rev. Thomas Wallace. Before the end of the century it had acquired its independence and its own rector, the Rev. Charles Welland, who served the parish for over three decades. The population of the area had shot up with the building of the railways through Foxrock and along the coast and the increasing trade through the nearby port of Kingstown, or Dun Laoghaire.
However as any one who glances over the back of the rectory wall will be reminded, the history of Kill 0′The Grange parish goes back much further than the mid-19th Century. St. Fintan’s Church, which fell into disrepair in the 17th century – probably at the time of the 1641 rebellion and the Battle in Dean’s Grange the following year may go back to the 6th century. Ancient crosses and a primitive “bullan stone”, also a sacred well, have been found nearby. The original building was similar to St. Kevin’s Kitchen in Glendalough, a simple oblong with a square-headed doorway, later enlarged with a 12th century chancel.
The church and the rich lands of Cluain Caoin (the beautiful meadow) became attached to the Priory of the Holy Trinity, (later Christ Church Cathedral) though for a period early in the 13th century it formed a prebend of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. During the late Middle Ages it was the church serving the home farm of the Augustinian canons of the Priory. At the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539, when the Priory was reconstituted as the Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity with the former Prior as its first Dean, it was granted with its lands and residence to the Dean – hence the name Dean’s Grange – and was served by vicars appointed by him. The last of these, the Rev. John Armistead, was appointed in 1643, but shortly afterwards the church was reported to be in ruins. The parish in the early 16th century stretched from Killiney Hill to Stillorgan, bordering on Taney in the West and Monkstown to the North East. There appears to have been a concealed Roman Catholic Church in the area in the 17th and 18th Centuries, a Rev. Richard Murphy being returned as parish priest of Kill in the 1704 Return of Roman Catholic Clergy.
The building of the present church in the early 1860s was part of a concerted programme of church-building in South County Dublin when after the building of the two railways in the 1830s increasing numbers of Church of Ireland people came to live in the area. Mariners’ Church and Christ Church in Dun Laoghaire were both consecrated in 1836, two years after the opening of the coastal railway, St. Patrick’s Dalkey in 1842, Holy Trinity Killiney in 1858, Kill 0′ the Grange, Tullow and St. John’s Monkstown in 1864, and St. Paul’s Glenageary in 1867.
Kill O’ the Grange Church, a simple and beautifully proportioned Victorian Gothic structure, has been enhanced over the years by the addition of various memorials, the most striking and beautiful being the memorial window behind the altar of Christ the Good Shepherd in memory of Charles Welland, rector of the parish for 34 years, from 1889 to 1923.
The earliest of such memorials were the pulpit and prayer desk, sculpted from Caen stone and Irish marble by the then church warden, Mr. W. Burnell, whose family name remains on the local marble works. It was erected in 1891 by the widow of the Rev. Thomas Power, former incumbent of Clashmore and Templeree in the diocese of Cashel, who had retired to Monkstown and worshipped regularly at Kill, “endearing himself alike to rich and poor”. The latest is the fine memorial window dedicated to the memory of all those parishioners who gave their lives in two world wars.
Left to Right: Helen Elston (Prayer Development), Brian Kinch (Counselling Service), Ginnie Kennerley (Pastoral Visiting and Communication), Fred Jackson (Legal Advisor), The Reverend Billy Gibbons (Rector), Tighe Taylor (Mission), Edmund Combe (Area Fellowship Groups), Liz Orr (Bible Study and Counselling). Not shown: The Reverend Ian Jonas (Home Outreach).
After Charles Welland’s retirement in 1923, it seems that Kill parish entered a period of decline. The church-building of the mid 19th century, before disestablishment, World War I, the Rising and the Treaty took their toll, seemed in retrospect somewhat over enthusiastic. The parishioners of Kill had trouble raising the £400 per annum required by the General Synod as the minimum salary for a rector. Already in 1922 it was suggested that the parish be divided and amalgamated with St. John’s Monkstown. The parishioners rejected the idea and appealed to the Archbishop, but could not offer an incoming rector more than £234 p.a. and “a free house”. So Kill was designated a “light duty parish”, whose incumbent would until around 1950 remain a mere curate in charge, despite constant efforts to change the situation.
As such it attracted men past the prime of life: Sterling De Courcy Williams (1923-1930), J.S. Carolin (1930-1934), A.S. Bluett (1935-1944), the first to move in to the present rectory which replaced the too distant glebe at St. Margaret’s, Foxrock. In 1944 the Rev. Kildare D.B. Dobbs came from St Georges, Temple Street, to be curate in charge of Kill; and although the question of restoring the parish to the status of a rectorship was raised once again in 1946 it was another half decade before the necessary funds could be found.
It was the economic expansion of the Lemass era, when the new housing brought a rapid increase in population, that filled the church again. In 1956 permission was sought to reopen the school, closed down in the 1940s. It was 1963 before this could be arranged, in makeshift accommodation in the present parish hall and the factory sitting-room; but plans were put in hand for the building and staffing of a five teacher national school, which was opened by Brian Lenihan as Minister for Education and blessed by Archbishop Simms on September 28 1968. The select vestry minutes record that Mrs. Dora McCabe provided the teas for the occasion. The headmaster was Mr. Rountree, formerly of Monkstown School, whose wife had been the first teacher in the re-opened school.
Meantime, the social life of the parish had taken off, with a plethora of sports, entertainments and special events. The parishioners were becoming more and more involved in the everyday running of the parish – even taking on the updating of the parish register and organising visits to new homes in the parish and suggesting to the rector that they would like him to introduce the new services of Morning Prayer and Holy Communion.
The transformation of the quiet “light duty parish” of 1944 must have been disconcerting for the gentle bachelor Kildare Dobbs, despite the warmth of support from his friends in the parish and the assistance latterly of the Rev. Brian Snow of Mariners’ in Dun Laoghaire. In 1971 he tendered his retirement to the archbishop and the parochial nominators started the search for a “young active family man”. Their unanimous decision to appoint the Rev. W.S. Gibbons was announced to the select vestry on January 28 1972. He was instituted on Tuesday February 15 1972 at 8 pm by Archbishop Alan Buchanan, the preacher being Dean Victor Griffin.
Left to Right: Norman Tucker (Social Committee), Leslie Acton (Lay Reader), John Riseley (New Hall Finance), Mark McCappin (People’s Churchwarden), Douglas Groves (New Hall Finance), Jocelyn Ward (Rector’s Churchwarden), George Castle (People’s Glebewarden), The Reverend Billy Gibbons (Rector), Andrew Crawford (Stewardship Secretary), Sheila Murphy (Hon. Secretary), Philip Osborne (Parish Centre Development Co-ordinator), Suzette Byrne (Communications), Gordon Richards (Parish Centre Development), Kevin Megarry (Hon. Treasurer). Not shown: Blair Halliday (Lay Reader and Social Committee), Peter Rooke (Social Committee), Jean Knight (Social Committee).
Since then Billy and Isobel, with their children Catherine, Mary and Michael, have become an integral part of our lives – the family at the heart of the parish in more ways than one. The affection and respect in which the rector is held was shown last June on the 25th anniversary of his ordination, when the parish presented him with a set of golf clubs and golf bag and an album containing mementoes of his years in the ordained ministry.
Ad multos annos.
(writing in 1987)
In 1993 Canon William (Billy) Gibbons retired as rector after 23 years. In 1996 Rev. Ferran Glenfield who was rector of Rathcooney in Cork was appointed as the new incumbent to the Parish. He left to take up the position of Rector of St. Malachy’s Church, Hillsborough, Co. Down on 3rd May 2012.
The Parish with other local churches began to have Holy Week Services together which continue to the present. In 1995 Kill appointed a children’s youth worker to develop ministry amongst the young. Over succeeding years various children’s and youth workers have served the parish with distinction. At present the parish has a flourishing ministry among the younger members of the church family.
In 2003 the Parish held a mission entitled Jesus the Key in Partnership with C.P.A.S. The mission impacted many who came to faith or renewed their commitment to Christ. Both local and global mission work continues to grow in Kill. Alpha, Christianity Explored and other evangelical courses run throughout the church year. Links with the global church in Sudan, Uganda, India and Malawi are maintained and developed.
With the advent of the Christian Millennium a series of restoration and building projects began. The Church was reroofed and in 2005 was completely renovated internally. In 2006 the Parish Centre was restored and extended. In 2004 a new building for Kill National School was opened on the site of the previous school. In 2008 the rectory has been completely renovated.
Kill O’The Grange Parish has a long and valued history. There has been a Christian witness in the parish for over 1000 years. The church today is a living community seeking to love and serve the Lord.