Curtain Call for Clonliffe for Culture Night

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Culture Night Celebrations around the Diocese 


Dubliners have a final chance to see what life was like in one of the city’s most historic buildings when the Dublin opens its archive on Clonliffe College seminary for Culture Night.  This represents a final chance to visit the former seminary as the Diocese has sold the building and surrounding grounds to the GAA.

On Friday night (20th ) from 6:30pm a vast range of archival material will be on display, giving the public a unique insight into life behind the seminary walls. This will include previously unseen film footage, photographs and documents featuring many aspects of the life of a trainee priest from study to sport and drama. The exhibition will also include a display of old vestments, artefacts and paintings.

Founded in 1859, almost 3,000 men studied for the priesthood in Holy Cross College over the course of its history, including the current Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin.

While the seminary was central to the formation of Dublin priests, in fact, more men from outside the Diocese studied there throughout its history – 1,469 came from the rest of Ireland while 1,250 came from Dublin city and county.  76 men from abroad studied in Holy Cross from 11 different countries around the world.

Clonliffe was one of the first places on the Northside of the city to have electricity and the seminary had a large working farm. Former president Éamonn de Valera taught maths to the students in Clonliffe in 1905.  It was one of the first locations in Ireland to have Mass broadcast on radio in 1948 and the first Easter Vigil broadcast on television came  from Clonliffe in 1962.

One of its most well-known former students was the renowned artist Fr. Jack Hanlon, who had begun exhibiting the Royal Hibernian Academy at the age of 21 while studying for the priesthood.  Many people will be aware that he spent much time studying art in France, but few would know that as well as exhibitions in Europe and the U.S. he exhibited at the Olympic Games in 1948.  He also won several commissions from Hallmark!  An exhibition of Fr. Hanlon’s paintings will be on display in Clonliffe on Friday evening and Fr. Damien Mc Neice, priest of the Diocese will give a talk on the artist priest’s extraordinary life and work.

Clonliffe ceased to operate as a seminary in 1999 when the last four students to study there left.  Since then it has been home to the Diocesan administration and a busy pastoral centre. However, with the sale of the property to the GAA this year, Dublin Church links to Clonliffe are due to end. As the curtain falls, Friday evening will end on a high note with classical and contemporary music from members of the National Children’s Choir and the Dublin Diocesan music group.

While they are looking back on one part of Diocesan life in Clonliffe, elsewhere in the city the Young Church in Dublin looks to the future with a Culture Night celebration of faith based music and testimonies for young adults called the “Encounter”. It begins in St. Pauls in Arran Quay at 8pm.

In the Pro Cathedral, more young voices will be raising the roof when the boys of the Palestrina Choir begin Culture Night with Choral Evening Prayer at 5pm, including Lift Thine Eyes, Mendelssohn & Dyson’s Magnificat in C Minor.

Other Dublin parishes are also busy for Culture night –  in St. James Parish, James Street, they will celebrate the great Daniel O’Connell and how he laid the foundations stone for St. James Church in 1844.  Visitors can hear about the history and experience the wonderful culture of St. James’ from 6pm.  There will be music from pupils from the local primary schools.

In St Mary’s in Enniskerry where the Church is celebrating its 160th anniversary,  local historian Michael Seery will give a tour of the Church  and a lecture on its origins,  beginning at 7:30pm.