“Let no man write my epitaph … when my country takes her place among the nations of the earth, then, and not till then, let my epitaph be written”
~ Robert Emmet’s speech on the eve of his execution, 1803
As the historian and television presenter Robert Kee pointed out the rebellion of 1803 was a “street riot rather than a rebellion” but nevertheless it did cause Robert Emmet, on the 20th September 1803, to keep an appointment outside St. Catherines. Sadly for him the appointment was with the hangman’s noose.
A church had occupied the site since 1105 but the present church dates from 1769. It was designed by John Smyth who also worked on two other churches of the period; St Thomas’s and St Werburgh’s.
James Malton’s “St. Catherine’s Church, Thomas Street. November 1797”The architectural historian Maurice Craig, author of “Dublin 1660-1860: The Shaping of a City” noted that St. Catherine’s has “the finest façade of any church in Dublin”. As was common in the time the church is a galleried church. It was also supposed to be topped with a spire but this was not constructed due to lack of funds. In 1825, G.N. Wright noted in his book “An Historical Guide to the city of Dublin”, that the parish was estimated to contain 21,264 people in 1,638 homes. As the population was mostly Roman Catholic, the Church of Ireland church however was barely viable. In 1966, with declining attendance, the church closed and was deconsecrated in 1967.
The Church of Ireland transferred ownership of the building to Dublin Corporation on condition that it be used for cultural and community activities. This saw the church host exhibitions and stage concerts with well known acts such as Christy Moore and the Chieftains. However by 1990s the church had largely been abandon and vandalized. In 1993 Dublin Corporation sold the church to an Anglican church – The City Outreach for Renewal and Evangelism (CORE). After a £1.75 million restoration the church was re-consecrated in 1998.