Dun Laoghaire Oratory

This is the most amazing, yet tiny building with a fascinating history. It was originally built in 1919 to be a Peace memorial for local men who were lost during World War One and was used to house a Statue of the Sacred Heart which was received from the Northern French town that a lot of the local men to Dun Laoghaire perished in. The building once won a prize for modern design.

Lily Lynch was the only child of a modern family, her father was an illuminator and he taught Lily the Lynch method of Celtic Art. Lily lost her mother at the age of twelve and her father when she was sixteen, after which she took over his company, which she ran until she was twentytwo, when a fire destroyed the company, so she sold what was left, paid for an altar and entered the enclosed Dominican Order, where she took the name Concepta. People have said that Lily was a talented musician and singer. Whiles in the School, she taught the children, music, and art. She was requested by the Mother Superior to paint the panel behind the Statue in the Celtic style her father taught her, as the statue had a simple colour palette, compared to the usual scarlet robes that similar statutes normally displayed. When Lily had finished this panel, the Mother Superior gave Lily instructions to finish the rest of the interior of the building. Lily made original stencils out of paper, old blinds and other material so that she could repeat accurately the designs she wanted to use in the design, these designs were inspired by her trips to the Book of Kells in Trinity with her Father. You can see Lily’s sense of humour as you look at the details of her designs.

The windows were made by the School of Harry Clarke, Harry Clarke’s family and Lily Lynch’s families were friends and that is why Harry decided to help Lily. In order to protect the Oratory a protective shell building was built around the little oratory, that is the red, circular building below. The door to the Oratory is in the first photo.  One of the illuminated manuscripts created by Lily’s father was presented to Charles Stuart Parnell. Lily died from Cancer in 1939 before she was able to complete the work, this may have been caused by the chemicals contained in the materials that she was using in her work. You can see that the roof is incomplete, the story is that she had two painters ladders open with boards across them, so that she could lie on her back and paint the roof, as you can see it has not been completed. People say that she painted until she could paint no more. The paint used was paid for by Lily’s cousin (a pantomime actor) and is regular emulsion paint, which was bought at the local hardware shop, the colours, which amazed the staff in the shop, and was mixed to very specific instructions from Lily.

The tour was part of the Winter of Heritage programme put together by Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, they also run Spring into Heritage and The Summer of Heritage programmes, all of which involve informative and educational events.


Monkstown Castle
Quaker Burial Ground
Carrickbrennan Graveyard
Killiney Obelisk
Seapoint Martello Tower
Kill Abbey
Stillorgan Obelisk
Historic Blackrock

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