Wednesday, September 10, 2014

St. Audeon's Church

I was randomly rambling from Smithfield back to my usual bike parking space at [REDACTED] and I happened upon a most unusual, most awesome, and most free historical spot, St. Audeon's Church.

I was approaching from the northwest, and the first thing I noticed was the small gate at the corner of Cook Street leading into a small public park, St. Audeon's Park, not surprisingly. At the east end of the park is the church. 

St. Audeon's Park and Church Dublin, Ireland
St. Audeon's Park and Church

I had no idea this place existed, although I've been by on the street a few times. It looks like another church in Dublin's City Centre. Today I happened to notice the OPW sign, indicating a government-sponsored historical museum or point of interest. I popped my head in and the reception fellows welcomed me with a free brochure and some information about the church.

Church Decorating Motif St. Audeon's Church Dublin, Ireland
Church Decorating Motif

This spot was the site of a 12th-century church within the old walled city of Dublin (probably still Dubh Linn at that point?). The Church of Ireland (Anglican- not Catholic) built a more modern (but still old) church here, but left much of the original Medieval foundation intact. It looks as if they built a new church inside the old church. The Church of Ireland sanctuary is still actively used for services and run by the church, but an agreement with OPW allows visitors access when no services are taking place.

Modern St. Audeon's Sanctuary (Looking back to Front) Dublin, Ireland
Modern St. Audeon's Sanctuary (Looking back to Front)

One notices the old wall on one side and the modern plaster on the other, as they filled in the gaps of the old structure to build this new church. As per all Anglican Churches (that we've seen, anyway) the pulpit is raised above the floor by a set of small spiral steps.

Pipe Organ with Hand-Pumped Bellows St. Audeon's Church Dublin, Ireland
Pipe Organ with Hand-Pumped Bellows (Lever on Left)

At the back of the new church, the remaining walls and arches of the old church are still relatively intact. Diagrams on the wall help the visitor picture where things would have been in the old sanctuary.

Old St. Audeon's Sanctuary Dublin, Ireland
Old St. Audeon's Sanctuary

Inside, OPW has built exhibits and displays for the various artifacts found during various excavations and a scale model of the old church. On one wall, there once was a priceless fresco that has been completely lost to time and the elements when the walls of the old church sat out in the rain. Sad.

Among the small bits excavated, they found a small segment of the old cobbled road that would have run outside the church. This hasn't been dug up, but has been uncovered and cleaned up for the modern visitor. You can look down (it's a few feet below floor level) onto paving stones laid 800+ years ago that would have once been busy with foot and animal traffic.

When I chatted with the reception team on my way out, they talked to me about the difficulty in promoting St. Audeon's for locals and visitors. It is conveniently located just west of the much more famous (but not free!) Christ Church and St. Patrick's cathedrals. This church doesn't have the continuity or the name prestige of either of those pay-to-enter churches, but it is certainly worthy of a visit. I happily told them that I am writing a free eBook focusing on free-and-cheap Dublin activities- and that they would see St. Audeon's on my blog and in my book. If you make it to Dublin and simply must pay to see Christ Church or St. Patrick's, walk the extra 200 meters and check out St. Audeon's.

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