“Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a narration of the things that have been accomplished among us, who from the beginning were eye-witnesses and ministers of the word, it seemed good to me to write to thee, most excellent Theophilus, that thou mayest know the verity of the words that have been spoken”. Luke 1:1-4.
And just as St. Luke embarked on writing the history of his time we now try to put together the history of our Parish and the community of Holy Trinity.
Holy Trinity Parish, since its inception in 1974, has been very much blessed with the clergy who have served us and more importantly with the number of people who have given of their services and expertise over the years to make it a very vibrant Church and community.
The seeds of the Parish were sown in and around 1970 when the two Estates of Donaghmede and Grangemore were being built. At that time we were “out in the country” so to speak and indeed many thought we were far removed from our families but when we see how the area has evolved over the years we are only a stone’s throw really from the city. Later building projects included St. Donagh’s, The Donahies, Howth View Park, Millbrook, Grange Abbey and Newgrove Estates. The bulk of these building projects took place between 1970 and 1974. Much later we were joined by Clare Hall and our latest acquisition has been the Northern Fringe Area embracing Clongriffin and Belmayne. Holy Trinity Parish now caters for the Donaghmede-Clongriffin-Balgriffin areas which now have approximately 6,000 homes.
There were no facilities or services in those early days. Shops, schools, Post Office, Church or a bus service were non-existent. Many of the new residents were young married couples with young families, and times were very hard during the early 1970s with the recession. Cars were few and far between but fortunately we did have the train service that gave some mobility. At this time many of the local voluntary organisations came on stream, the Residents’ Associations and the various local political parties came into being, and everybody worked hard to get the schools and local facilities put in place. Children of school-going age were able to attend St. Benedict’s and we also used the Church for Mass and all religious ceremonies. With the opening of the Shopping Centre and the ancillary shops and services the area began to grow and prosper.
As the area progressed and families grew bigger naturally it was of the utmost importance that we lay the foundations for our own local schools and Church. The first two schools opened in September 1974 and Fr. Dermot O’Mahony, who had been appointed as Administrator to the area by Archbishop Dermot Ryan, dedicated our Parish to the Holy Trinity. Today we have many schools catering for the educational needs of the children of the area: Junior Schools, Scoil Bhríde and St. Kevin’s; Senior Schools, Holy Trinity and Naomh Colmcille; Gaelscoil Míde; and three secondary schools, Grange Community College, The Donahies Community School and Gaelcholáiste Reachrann. Lately, St. Francis of Assisi Primary School was opened to cater for the children in the new area of Belmayne which comes under the auspices of Holy Trinity Parish.
The new Holy Trinity School was equipped with a Hall and it was decided to use this facility for attending Mass. The Foundation Stone for Holy Trinity Church was laid by Archbishop Dermot Ryan in July, 1977 and the Church opened in December 1978 and up to this time the Hall was used as our place of worship.
We were very fortunate at this time to have Fr. Joe Collins appointed as our Parish Priest and as most of the older parishioners will remember he had great wisdom and foresight with a very hands-on approach to building up the Parish structures. Sadly, Fr. Joe became ill and died on the 29th June, 1979 only six months after the Church was opened and he did not live to see the fruition of his great endeavours thereafter. The Parish owes a great debt of gratitude for all the work he did on our behalf, setting up the various strands within the Parish, not to mention his great work for the youth of the area and the emergence of Trinity Gaels GAA Club with which he played a pivotal role. The fact that our local Park has been dedicated to his memory conveys the love and esteem in which he was held and it is a fitting memorial to all the work he did in the early days of the Parish. Parish Priests who have served us over the years include:
Fr. Dermot O’Mahony (1974-1975);
Fr. Joe Collins (deceased) (1975-1979);
Fr. J. K. O’Sullivan (1979-1987);
Fr. Hugh Daly (1987-1989);
Fr. Jim Moriarty (1989-1991);
Fr. Louis O’ Sullivan (deceased) (1991-2000);
Fr. Martin Noone (2000-2008);
and our current Parish Priest –
Fr. Eoin McCrystal (2008-Date)
One also tends to remember the priests who were with us when the Parish was inaugurated, namely Fr. Paddy Brady, Fr. Paddy Moran, Fr. Seamus O’Brien but we should not forget all those other priests who gave of their expertise to the Community of Holy Trinity: Fathers Pat Reilly, Peter O’Reilly, Noel Watson, Eamann Cahill, Padraig Gleeson, Karl Fortune, Thomas Kennedy, Melvyn Mullins, Finbarr Neylon, Anthony O’Shaughnessy, Philip Bradley and Manus Lyons.
The Community also gave two men to the priesthood: Fr. Kieran Dunne for the Dublin Diocese and Fr. Derek Hughes for foreign ministry and who now ministers in California.
We have been very fortunate that so many religious Orders have been involved in our Parish work over the years. In February 1975, the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM) were welcomed into the community and since then they have played a very important role within the Church and our community. Some assisted with the day to day Church services of the Parish whilst others had teaching posts but their presence has been invaluable and we owe a great debt of gratitude to Sr. Margaret Davis and Sr. Mary Dunne who still are very much involved in Parish work, and to their predecessors. Later we were joined by the Holy Rosary Sisters and the Sisters of Mercy and they too have enriched our Parish by their involvement in our area. The Columban Fathers also came to live within the community and from time to time they have undertaken duties within the Parish especially when our own Priests were on holiday or involved elsewhere. We acknowledge the vital role the religious Orders have played within Donaghmede Parish and we are most appreciative of all the work they have undertaken on our behalf.
The Parish boasts a great array of sporting associations, amongst others GAA, Soccer, Athletics and Boxing. There were many notable achievements by clubs and individuals alike over the years and not many Parishes can say they have had three parishioners who went on to become Olympians – Bobby O’Leary represented Ireland in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics in the 20km Walk; Bobby’s father, John, was also an International Walker who represented Ireland many times in the 20km Walk, both father and son between them holding the Irish record for the 20km Walk for 23 years; the McCormack brothers, cyclists Alan and Paul, represented Ireland in the 1976 Montreal Olympics and the 1988 Seoul Olympics respectively; their father, J.J. was an All Ireland Cycling Road Race Champion; Vinny Murphy played for Trinity Gaels and the Dublin Senior Team and the late Pat Walsh who was an All Ireland Boxing Champion and International soccer star, Stephen Carr, who is currently playing with Birmingham City. The Parish also participated in the Community Games for many years with great successes.
Notable musicians of the area include Keith Duffy and Shane Lynch of Boyzone. Shane Lynch’s twin sisters, Edele and Keavy were part of the B*Witched Girls Band and they were very successful having released two albums and eight singles all of which made it into the U.K. Top 20. Another band of note from Donaghmede was LIR which was very successful and have recently released a new album. The band was formed by Ronan Byrne along with his friends David McGuinness, David Hopkins, Robert Malone and Craig Hutchinson. Most of these lads are still doing very well in their chosen fields today. Another great musician and singer is Damien Dempsey who can be seen on many a current television programme. Derek Herbert was part of the band Les Enfants and their performance was one of the highlights at the Self-Aid Concert in the RDS in 1986. Today Derek is still heavily involved in the music business.
As we look around our area today we see a completely different neighbourhood than when it was built. Now we have every service imaginable: Trinity Credit Union, Doctors’ Surgeries, Dentists, Chemists, Trinity Leisure Centre, and the recently refurbished Fr. Collins Park, most of which is taken for granted, but for those who were here from the beginning of Holy Trinity Parish it is wonderful to see that all the hard work that was entailed in the early days to make these facilities available come to pass. It is a measure of their commitment and dedication to the Parish and the Community at a very critical time in our history.
The Parish itself has many different volunteer groups, i.e. Adoration Society, Altar Flower Society, Altar Servers, Baptismal Preparation Team, Cell Groups, Church Cleaners, Confirmation Programme, Family Mass Group, Helping Hand, Legion of Mary, Liturgical Art Group, Ministers of the Eucharist, Ministers of the Word, Ministry of Welcome, Padre Pio Group, Pioneer Total Abstinence Association, Parish Family Offering Campaign / Indoor Collectors, Parish Prayer Group, Right of Christian Initiation for Adults, Church Repository, Senior Music Group who have been there since the inception of Holy Trinity Parish, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Scouts and Cubs, and Trinity Youth Group. When one looks at the totality of all these volunteers it is apparent to all that we have a very vibrant Parish indeed. The commitment given in the early days of the Parish is alive and well today as it was all those years ago.
At time of writing our Parish Team consists of Fr. Eoin McCrystal, P.P., Fr. Gary Darby and our visiting priest from Capetown, Fr. Donald McLoughlin. We are also blessed to have the services of Sr. Margaret Davis F.M.M. and Sr. Mary Dunne F.M.M. whose commitment and dedication to the Parish are unquestionable and who give unselfishly of their time.
Our Parish Office is currently run by our very capable Secretary, Clare Browne, not forgetting all the years served by Geraldine Keenan keeping the records and looking after the needs of the Parish. We should also bear in mind the many sacristans who looked after the affairs within the Church itself – Britta Doyle, Bridget Cowan and Pat Kelly.
As mentioned at the beginning, the seeds of this Parish were sown forty years ago but like St. Luke we can only give a synopsis of our time here but one hopes that when the history is written in another forty years that it will have continued to do the work laid down by the then founding Community of Donaghmede. There is still a good deal of work to be done…