My mom in interested in genealogy. So while in Dublin, she wanted to try to dig up any information about ancestors who had lived here during the 1700’s. After coming up against one dead end after another, we finally learned that the last place to possibly hold such ancient records might be the Presbyterian Church near O’Connell Street.
O’Connell Street is the main and most important street in Dublin and one of Europe’s widest. Sometimes compared to Paris’s Champs Ely-sees, the street is lined with statues, monuments, and buildings of notable architecture and historic importance. Aside from serving as a major bus route through the city, this street has witnessed dramatic historical events such as the Dublin Lockout gatherings, the Easter Rising, the Irish Civil War, several state funeral corteges, and modern-day protests and celebrations. It is also the venue of the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which would be an electrifying sight to behold!
Off we went down this famous street, in search of the church. We passed the Spire of Dublin, which at 394 feet high (120 meters) is touted as the world’s largest sculpture. This striking stainless steel needle has pierced the Irish sky since 2002 — it was built as a modern monument to replace Nelson’s Pillar which had stood on this same spot since 1808. Nelson’s Pillar was a huge stone landmark with a viewing balcony overlooking Dublin; it was blown up by the IRA in 1966.
The Spire of Dublin — “The World’s Largest Sculpture”
Near Parnell Street, we came upon our morning’s destination, the impressive Abbey Presbyterian Church built in 1845 (although its congregation traces its roots back much earlier). The church’s benefactor, Alexander Findlater, gifted it to the congregation; even now Dubliners refer to the church as Findlater’s Church.
I don’t know how this church, built in 1845, would have information on Mom’s family from the 1700’s, but maybe it is a repository for old records. Unfortunately it was closed for renovation, so we could only peer wistfully through its locked black iron gate and wonder.
It’s interesting to note that the surname we sought was “Finley.”