The foundation stone of the church was laid by Cardinal Cullen in April 1874 and the first Mass was celebrated on the 8th December 1876. At the time it was a Chapel of Ease to St. Paul’s, Arran Quay. On The 18th May 1893, Aughrim Street was constituted a parish by Most Rev. William Walsh, the then Archbishop of Dublin.
The Church built in the Gothic style is considered to be one of the finest in the Archdiocese. The parish is located in the Northwest of the City. There are many places of interest within the parish boundaries and a visitor could spend a full day touring the parish. One such place is Aras an Uachtarain (House of the President) located in the Phoenix Park. The current occupant President Mary McAleese has visited the Church following in the long tradition of many of her predecessors. Dublin Zoo, also located in the Phoenix Park, falls within the parish boundary.
The parish is host to the Headquarters of An Garda Siochana (Civic Guard) Ireland’s unarmed police force. For many years, this building housed the training school for the force. Older parishioners can remember the recruits marching down from Headquarters to the Church for Sunday Mass. The link with policing goes back to the foundation of the Church when members of the Royal Irish Constabulary financed the building of the Organ, which was renovated in 1933 by members of the Gardai. Every November a Mass of Remembrance is held in the Church to commemorate all those who served as police officers.
Many members of the Defence Forces live and work in the Parish. This is not surprising, as there are three military bases in or near the Parish. The General Headquarters (GHQ), Collins Barracks and McKee Barracks have played a part in the history of the city and country. The leaders of the 1916 Rising against British rule in Ireland are buried in Arbour hill cemetery, which is beside the church of the same name.
Commerce and industry should not be excluded in any history of our parish. The parish was once on the edge of the city and so was an ideal location of the city’s cattle market. Dublin Corporation had been holding a cattle market in Smithfield, but with the increase in the city’s population and the growth of the cattle export business, Smithfield proved to be too small. In 1863, the market was relocated to the open spaces on the North Circular Road. A number of fine houses were built in the area for the cattle dealers and at the same time there was an influx of people into the area and over 250 large house were built for the ‘professional classes’.
The new railways, the Guinness Brewery and the Jameson Distillery were the major employers and Dublin Artisans Dwellings built houses in the Oxmantown Road area to accommodate the new arrivals. This influx of new people necessitated the building of the church. The parish schools of St. Gabriels Boys and Girls School were built in 1895 while the convent school in Stanhope Street was built in 1867.
The population of the parish has steadily increased and now stands at around 22,500. The parish is quite close to Smithfield, which is part of a major redevelopment for the Northwest Inner City. This has brought many new people to live in the area repeating the pattern of one hundred years ago. It is our hope that our new parishioners will feel as home as the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren of the original parishioners now do.