1. People and locality
  2. Beginnings
  3. Junior School 1857
  4. Parish Missions and Retreats
  5. The local mission
  6. Confraternities, sodalities and devotions
  7. Missionary Association of Mary Immaculate
  8. Mission Development Office
  9. Provincial residence and services
  10. Oblate formation
  11. The Church of Mary Immaculate
  12. The Community House 1861
  13. The Oblate Cemetery
  14. The Crib 1866
  15. The Rosary Way
  16. Local Superiors
  17. List of parish priests and clergy

The House of Retreat in Inchicore, Dublin, is regarded as the ‘mother house’ of the Anglo-Irish Province. From the beginning a strong bond existed between the Oblates and the local people, which continues to this day. It has yielded a remarkable number of religious and clerical vocations. In the celebration of the Mission’s 150th anniversary in 2006 the whole neighbourhood joined in a number of events both religious and social as part of a joyful celebration in which the President of Ireland and the Mayor of Dublin also took part, along with the Archbishop of Dublin, the Superior General Wilhelm Steckling and other church dignitaries.

Today the community embraces the provincial leadership team, the parish team, the MAMI team, the Mission Development Office, a small group of preachers, and a number of retired Oblates. It also houses the Provincial Archives and Oblate Missionary Record Office.

The Oblate property comprises thirteen or fourteen acres, on which are found the church, community house, primary school, a reception hall (Arus Mhuire), a large Grotto and Crib, a large basketball hall with social service offices, a cemetery, and parkland and car park areas.

People and locality
Searching for a suitable place to make the first Oblate foundation in Ireland, Father Robert Cooke was advised by the Augustinians of St. John’s Lane, Dublin in 1856 to go to the Kilmainham area. Following an approach to the diocese, the Oblates were given permission to establish a mission within the parish of St. James in the County of Dublin at ‘Goldenbridge’ or ‘Inchicore’, Kilmainham, to the west of the city. It was at that time outside the limits of the city of Dublin. In 1867-1868 Kilmainham became a civil township, only to be incorporated into the city of Dublin in 1900. Father Ring played a part in this transition.

The Great Southern and Western Railway Company’s works were situated in this locality. Now known as the CIE Works, the enterprise was described in the 1860’s as being a self-sufficient community. The company had built 148 cottages housing 850 people. The railway workers formed an important part of the flock the mission was to serve. They were brought over in large part from the foundries and railway works of England. “They were Irishmen for the most part and all clever and intelligent men, but many of them had been living for years in neglect of their religious duties”, wrote Father Cooke.

The Oblates were preceded in Inchicore by the Sisters of Mercy who founded a house of refuge and school in Goldenbridge in 1855. The Oblates served as spiritual directors of the house of refuge. Another significant presence in the locality was the Richmond Barracks of the British army, built towards the end of the 18th century. It accommodated some 1600 soldiers and included married quarters.

In 1856 Fr. Cooke purchased a farm of some 26 acres and took possession on June 21 1856. The Oblates lived in a small farmhouse on the property. The earliest community members were Frs. Cooke, provincial, Prideaux Fox, and Gustave Richard who arrived as superior on 12 August 1856, and Brs. Kearney and Biggan who were to look after the school. In addition two young Oblate priests destined for the missions arrived before the end of 1856: Frs. Crousel and Eynard. Fr. Richard was already a sick man when he arrived and he died on 20 April 1857.

The Oblates were preceded in their arrival in Inchicore by the Sisters of Mercy who founded a house of refuge and school in Goldenbridge in 1855. The Founder visited them in the course of his visit to Dublin in 1857.

Junior School 1857
At this period Dublin was immersed in a struggle for denominational education of young people. Most children attending the new National Schools were Catholics and they were in practice a prey to proselytisers. The first school opened in the Inchicore area in 1853 was such a national school, known locally as the ‘model school’. The Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. Paul Cullen, asked Fr. Robert Cooke to set up a school at the mission in Inchicore for Catholic children. Very soon a small school was set up in a coach-house on the grounds with Brother Laurence Biggan, a former teacher, in charge, assisted by Brother Joseph Kearney. It opened its doors on January 13 1857. Around 140 children turned up, many from the Model School. Evening classes were also opened for adults and young apprentices. In 1864 a new school building called the ‘Chapel School’ was opened. It was staffed by Brothers Laurence Biggan, Joseph Kearney, Patrick Mahoney, Patrick Malone and Thomas Manelis, successively. In 1874 the school was brought under the aegis of the National School Board. There was some friction at that time over the display of Catholic crucifixes and statues. A compromise was reached by enclosing these in small cupboards, to be opened only at prayer times. This system continued right up to 1926. Then Fr. Michael Sweeney, superior at the House of Retreat, preaching at the pro-Cathedral, before the hierarchy and members of the Irish Government, called for these symbols ‘ to be taken out of the catacombs’. He did so himself the following day in the Oblate Schools and, subsequently, withstood successfully a complaint of a visiting school inspector. The present fine granite building was built by Fr. Daniel Collier and opened on August 3 1936. The adjoining School Hall, Arus Mhuire, was opened on April 12 1937. In 2007 there are 148 boys and 120 girls in the school. Up to 1982 the pupils were all boys. Two recent Archbishops of Dublin received a part of their education in the Oblate school. The Model School has also in recent years passed into the management of the parish priest of Inchicore.

College of Mary Immaculate Dublin 1861-1867
On July 24 1861 the Oblates took possession of premises in 22/23 Thomas Street with a view to opening a secondary college to be called the College of the Immaculate Conception. Father Lenoir was the first principal. The fifteen juniors from Sicklinghall were transferred to this new college. In an undated letter to Fr. Arnoux, preserved in the Sicklinghall Codex, Fr. Bennet describes his arrival with the juniors after a rough crossing but ‘the boys are all well’. The premises, he said, are ‘a little palace, but in a noisy street.’ The college was opened at the invitation of the Archbishop of Dublin, Cardinal Paul Cullen: at the time there were only three Catholic Secondary Schools in Dublin. On 14 April 1862 the boys were examined in Latin, Greek and Ancient History by Mr Steward of the Catholic University, who found them very satisfactory (Missions OMI, 1862 p.451.) In June 1862 the college was moved to 62 Upper Mount Street, Merrion Square. In his 1862 Report to the Superior General, Fr. Cooke describes the college as a residence dependent on the house at Inchicore (Missions OMI, 1862 p.6). It was then under the direction of Fr. Peter Nolan. Fr. Nolan was assisted by two other Oblates and by two scholastic brothers, who were also studying theology. Fr. Denny describes the college as following an enlightened and forward-looking policy. Subjects included Latin, Greek, English, Italian, and mathematics. When Fr. Cooke wrote his 1862 Report to the Superior General there were 30 pupils. By 1864 150 students were enrolled. Among those who attended the school were the two Gaughren brothers, Anthony and Matthew, who became Oblates and successively Bishops of Kimberley in the Orange Free State, South Africa. Staffing was not easy. Staffing problems and financial difficulties forced the closing of this College in 1868, although it had been hoped that it would be a fruitful source of vocations.

Parish Missions and Retreats
As late as 1966 the provincial wrote in his Chapter Report: “Our principal work in Ireland has always been the preaching of missions and retreats. As we became known through this apostolate, there was a corresponding increase in vocations to the Congregation.” The preaching of a mission by Frs. Cooke, James Gubbins, Fox and Arnoux in the Augustinian church of St. John’s Lane in May 1856 prepared the way for the Oblates’ entry into Inchicore. Throughout its existence the Oblate community in Inchicore has sent out missioners to preach missions and retreats all over Ireland and abroad. Personnel for the missions were often drawn from the province at large, but a permanent team was built up in Inchicore. As well as Fr. Cooke, outstanding early missioners resident in Inchicore included Frs. Fox and Kirby The preaching band was very active throughout the nineteenth century. In his 1873 Chapter Report the Provincial speaks of Inchicore as “par excellence the house of missionaries. In the whole of Ireland, we have no parish ministry; we are purely and simply religious missionaries.” In 1879 there were five Fathers entirely assigned to give missions, usually of three weeks duration. They worked normally in teams of three, though in October 1877 Fr. Cooke led 17 Oblates at a general mission in Belfast to the six principal parishes of the city. In the period 1873-1879 some eighty missions were given. In the period 1887-1893 one hundred and thirty two missions were given and also 156 retreats. This ministry expanded enormously in the period 1950-1970. In the 1950’s there was a mission staff of 11 Fathers. “We can safely say that at no other period in our history has the Oblate Mission and Retreat work been in such a flourishing position as it is today”, wrote the provincial in his 1953 Chapter Report. “During the past three or four years in particular the demands for Missions and Retreats have reached embarrassingly large proportions…” In the period 1959-1964 five hundred and thirty two missions were given. However, “a growing attitude of indifference shared by a large number of young people and those among the professional or educated class who readily consider themselves excused from attending the popular mission” was noted by the Provincial in his Chapter Report in 1959. As profound changes worked their way through church and society, the work of preaching missions declined drastically. New approaches to evangelisation appear. A small number of Fathers are still available for the ministry of preaching and find that people are enthusiastic and grateful for ure-based preaching and preaching that leads to a deeper spirituality. Any opportunity for preaching that arises is seized.

Tape Conference Library
Early in 1963 the idea a library of Tape Recorded Conferences despatched by post to communities of Sisters was initiated in Inchicore by Father Patrick McDonnell, the then Provincial, who had learned of this innovative ministry from the Oblates in the Australian Province. The primary aim of the Library was to bring the mind and spirit of the Second Vatican Council more effectively to Sisters and through them to the children they taught. Father McDonnell entrusted the work to Fr. Deehan who obtained the permission of the Irish Bishops. Fr. Deehan made three visits to Rome during the Council to interview on tape some of the better-known theologians of the time. Courses were prepared on ure and liturgy, with commentary on the documents emerging from the Second Vatican Council.

The project began in March 1963 with five convents. By 1966 200 communities in Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales were receiving the conferences, which covered seventeen courses, each consisting of twelve tapes. Contributors were well-known speakers and writers from many Orders and the diocesan clergy, including Archbishop Dermot Ryan, Bishop Cathal Daly and Mgr John Greehy. The conferences were used for community study sessions and for days of recollection. Fr. Deehan also conceived the idea of a monthly cassette containing a reflective commentary, with biblical background, on the liturgical readings for Sundays and Holy Days. State of the art recording and duplicating equipment was operated by Br Terence Williams Keogh and Father Charles O’Connor. The work was a pioneering one, and Father Deehan introduced one of the first portable video recorders into Ireland showing its homiletic potential to the bishops and the major seminaries of Ireland. This unique pioneering project came to an end as commercial products came on the market to supply the growing need.

The local mission
When they met in Dublin in 1857 the Archbishop promised the Founder an Oblate parish at Inchicore but the project was postponed. This did not impede the Oblates from developing a thriving local mission.

Confraternities, sodalities and devotions
From the very beginning these played a large part in the spiritual life of the people of Inchicore, fostering religious observance and piety. The Confraternity of the Scapular of the Immaculate Conception for both sexes was constituted at the vigil of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception 7 December 1856 by Father Fox. In the Codex we read: “the members were enrolled and elected their president and other dignitaries; their costume is nice and pleases well to the eye. At Vespers the Confraternity had their first Procession in the Church carrying the statue of our Blessed Lady.” Their presence at Benediction offered by the Founder on June 26 1857 in Inchicore is recorded in the Codex.

For many years three great novenas were celebrated annually: the Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Lourdes, and St. Teresa of the Child Jesus. The novena of Our Lady of Lourdes and its concluding torchlight procession draw in many people from the City as a whole and even from further afield. The first torchlight procession, modelled on those at Lourdes, was held in the grounds on 11 February 1927. Fr. Lennon brought a relic of St. Bernadette to Inchicore in 1938. On 15 August 1938 it was venerated by some 3000 people, and it is venerated annually on 11 February. During the war years 1941-1944 the Uninterrupted Rosary Novena was prayed for peace during the novena to Our Lady of Lourdes.

In 1951 during the Holy Year the four branches of the sodality marched to the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Clondalkin for the indulgence and the procession stretched for nearly a mile. The era of sodalities has passed but their spirit survives in a group of helpers who still render great service to the mission.

The Irish Lourdes
Devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes has formed an important part of the Province’s spirituality from its early years. In 1924, Fr. Michael Sweeney celebrated Mass at the grotto in Lourdes. He was impressed by the devotion of the Irish pilgrims and prayed that he would be able to build a full replica of the Lourdes Grotto at Inchicore. He had Brother Patrick McIntyre, o.m.i., sent to Lourdes to measure the size and contours of the grotto. In 1928, with the volunteer help of local men, Brother McIntyre began excavations for the foundation of the grotto, to be situated at the rear of the Church. It was a unique construction and, regrettably, no plans are extant. Hundreds of local railway employees laboured, mostly at night, for two years, and the Irish Lourdes Grotto was officially opened on 11 May 1930. It is estimated that one hundred thousand people gathered for the event. The Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. Byrne, presided at the solemn Mass and Dr. McNealy of Raphoe was the special preacher. Dr. Patrick Collier, Bishop of Ossory, later preached at the Grotto and blessed the statue of Our Lady. Beginning in 1941 and through to 1942 Brother McIntyre raised and resurfaced the floor of the Grotto and completed the arch of the crowned Virgin. In 1943 he built the beautiful balustrade bounding Grotto Square. When the Cahermoyle novitiate was closed, the Calvary from the grotto there was transferred to Grotto Square.

Ministry to youth
This was always a feature of the mission. The present St. Joseph’s Boys’ Club was started and sponsored by the St. Vincent de Paul Society in 1944. It acquired its present premises in 1946. In 1965 Fr. Joseph Horan provided a facility for basketball and other sports in the grounds to cater for the needs of the Mary Immaculate Girls’ Sodality and other young women in the area. He had a Hall built for this purpose in 1971 and built up a renowned girls’ basketball team and encouraged other sports. In 1997, a fire destroyed this wonderful facility. However, it rose from the ashes through the efforts of Fr. Patrick Carolan, then parish priest, with the help of funds from the Irish Government Sports Capital Program, fire insurance and a substantial sum from the Oblates. This beautiful facility was officially opened by the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) in 2002 and provides a fine venue for basketball for schools, local teams and groups from all over Ireland. The hall also offers facilities to FAS, a Government Agency for employment, ‘Links’ and ‘Turus’ programs for drug addition and rehabilitation, a crèche, meals for the elderly and a keep fit room and sundry other activities.

From Chapel of Ease to Parish
With the achievement of political independence in 1921 the Richmond Barracks, now christened the Keogh Barracks, was vacated by the military and was used for housing. The population of the neighbourhood was expanding and in 1933 St. James’ parish was divided. The Oblate mission fell within the new parish of St. Michael’s, which was still confided to the diocesan clergy. However, in 1972 the parish of St. Michael’s was itself divided into three parishes, one of which had its seat in the Oblate mission under the title Mary Immaculate was set up. Today the parish team includes three Oblates and a parish Sister and engages the services of a professionally qualified youth worker. It works in cooperation with an active parish council. In very recent years a large number of apartment buildings have appeared. Much of the Inchicore area has been gradually filled in by private dwelling houses. Most recently there has been an influx of immigrants and refugees into the area from Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa.

Missionary Association of Mary Immaculate
In his 1879 Report to the General Chapter the provincial recorded that in 1876 a new association was set up in Inchicore called ‘the Immaculate Conception’, for men and women. It was the practice of the Oblate missioners to enrol members during their missions. The association’s statutes prescribed a monthly Mass, sermon and communion. Fr. Ring was the initiator of this work. The Chapter Report of 1893 speaks of 3,500 members. This association was one of the seeds that led to the founding in the Congregation of the Missionary Association of Mary Immaculate. Inchicore has been the headquarters of this Association in Ireland since 1934 when Fr. Sweeney became director. Since then there has been a line of dedicated Directors assisted by a permanent staff: Frs. Eugene Doherty, McArdle and the present incumbent Fr. Mulligan. The Association has helped in the spiritual formation of countless Associates over the years and raised enormous sums for the missions by its activities.

Lourdes pilgrimage
A special work of the Association both in England and in Ireland is the annual pilgrimage to Lourdes. These pilgrimages were initially inspired by Fr. Ring. The pilgrimages were interrupted by the First World War 1914-1918 and not resumed until 1927. In that year a new series of annual pilgrimages of Associates of Mary Immaculate was begun which lasted until the Second World War broke out in 1939. After the Second World War the series of annual pilgrimages to Lourdes organized by MAMI was resumed in 1951 and continues to this day. They involve a large network of voluntary helpers including brancardiers, handmaids, nurses, doctors and the Oblate Youth Service to care for the invalids who always accompany the pilgrimage.

Mission Development Office
This office was set up by the Provincial in 2005 “to increase awareness of our missions, funding for them and interaction with them.” It is particularly involved in accessing funds that the Irish Government channels through a company called Irish Missionary Resources Services. It has already been influential in obtaining IMRS funding for Oblate projects in Sri Lanka, South Africa, Indonesia, Zambia, Congo, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. The Office works through a Director (Oblate), a lay Liaison Officer, and a Mission Committee. The first director is Fr. Paul Byrne.

Provincial residence and services
Father Fabre required the provincial to reside at the House of Retreat, Inchicore, for six months of the year and for six months to reside in England. Studying the personnel lists from 1862 onward we find that the Provincial is invariably listed as residing at Inchicore. The exception was Fr. Thomas Pinet who preferred to live in Leeds in England. In 1972 Fr. Dore provincial acquired a new provincial residence at 170 Merrion Road, Dublin. In 2007 the provincial Fr. Fitzpatrick returned to Inchicore.

Oblate formation

Juniorate and Scholasticate
Fr. Denny states that an Irish juniorate was founded in Inchicore in 1856. In July 1862 the scholastics from Sicklinghall were placed in Inchicore. In his report to the Superior General in March 1863 Fr. Cooke confirms the presence in Inchicore of juniors and 13 scholastics. Some twelve juniors were directed by Fr. William Bennett. The moderator of the scholastics was Fr. Mangin, assisted by Fr. Malmartel. In 1863 the scholastics were sent to Autun.

Scholasticate of the Congregation 1880-1885
In 1880 the community at Inchicore was called upon to host the Oblates from the scholasticate at Autun, France, after their expulsion from France. For the next four years they occupied the top storey of the House of Retreat. They arrived in Dublin in November 1880. It is hard to assess the exact number who came, as different sources vary. It seems about thirty brothers, scholastics and priests arrived with Fr. Charles Tatin as superior, and were warmly welcomed by the Inchicore community. Before they moved to Belcamp Hall, Raheny, Dublin, in February 1885, twenty-two French scholastics and eleven Irish scholastics had taken final vows at Inchicore.

A small prenovitiate was housed on the wing of the third floor in the years 1987-9.

The Church of Mary Immaculate
The focal point of the Oblate mission in Inchicore has always been its church. The first church on the Oblate site was a wooden structure erected voluntarily by the local men, principally from the railway works. The event, which has passed into the folklore of the neighbourhood, is described in the Codex Historicus under the date June 24, 1856:

“As soon as it was known in the neighbourhood that the missionaries were established at Inchicore, the enthusiasm became general and everyone seemed most anxious to see a chapel erected directly. They proposed many places. At last it was resolved to build a temporary chapel in wood. On the same evening 400 men of the railway works were on the spot with hammers, saws and other tools of carpenters. Fr. Cooke came up about 6 o’clock p.m. with Dr O’Connor and was not a little surprised to see so many workmen and so willing men. They dug hastily a kind of foundation, put a big stone in the corner. This day was the Feast of St. John the Baptist and the good Bishop happened by chance to have in his breast some relics of St. John. He put this relic in the foundation, made it touch the corner stone; Fr. Provincial did the same. They blessed the whole concern without more ceremony and the men began their work with a wonderful activity. They were hardly an hour at work that they were obliged to stop for want of timber. The following evening the same 400 men were upon the spot. Fr. Cooke made a short speech to thank them for their zeal and three cheers for the missioner followed with a loud and majestic explosion, which resounded in the whole country, round. They came again on the following evenings and the church was finished for the following Sunday Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul. The whole of it 70 feet long and 27 feet wide was complete in 4 days and even 16 hours since the men came only at 6 after their day work. On the 29th the Solemn Mass was sung by the choir of John Street and Fr. Fox preached the opening discourse. The church was afterwards lengthened of 35 feet, which makes a complete length of 105 feet. A gallery was also added and the interior ornaments were successively completed under the care of Mr Star decorator of Marlborough Street.”

Another contemporary account adds further details: “The walls are of wood, waterproofed, and painted in imitation of stone, and the roof is covered with thin Welsh slate. The interior of the edifice is peculiarly handsome, especially the sanctuary, the decorations of which of which may be looked on as unique – the whole forming a bijou of medieval ecclesiological art. The high altar and its furniture are in strict accordance with the style of the rest of t he building. The candelabra and stand for the Paschal taper were in the same tasteful style of ornament. Above the tabernacle a statue of the Madonna crowned stands in an arched niche, lit from above by day, and at night by unseen lamps. The effect is extremely beautiful.”

In April-May 1857 the first mission at Inchicore was preached in this church. At each exercise the little church was filled, especially with men from the Railway Works: mechanics, drivers, fitters, engineers, etc. From morning to night the confessionals were full. During this mission the Archbishop of Dublin, Archbishop Cullen came with one of his Vicars, Dr. Yore. It was his first visit and, seeing the crowds, they hoped that a larger church would be built soon.

The railway workers have since then always maintained a relationship with the Oblates who still frequently celebrate the Eucharist with them. It is recorded that on 1 November 1950 1500 workers went directly from the works to the church for midday Mass on November in honour of the definition of the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The link was again manifested on the occasion of the 150th anniversary celebrations of the mission, which were part sponsored by the CIE Works.

Several ordinations took place in this wooden church, including: Joseph Matthews and Robert Power, 27 April 1862 by Bishop O’Connor, OSA.

The Church 1876

The wooden church served the people until 1876, when work began on the present church dedicated to Mary Immaculate. The architect was Mr. George C. Ashlin. The foundation stone was blessed and laid by Cardinal Cullen, Archbishop of Dublin, on July 9 1876. The nave and aisles were completed and the church officially opened on December 8 1878. Dr. Moran, Bishop of Ossory and later Cardinal Archbishop of Sydney, Australia, celebrated the High Mass and Bishop Dorrian of Down and Conor preached. In the evening the famous Dominican preacher Fr. Thomas Burke gave the sermon. However, the work then had to cease, due to shortage of funds and the request of the Archbishop that we stop collecting until another local church was completed. In May 1892, under the direction of Fr. William Ring, the foundation stone of the chancel was laid and, with the two side chapels, blessed by Archbishop William Walsh. 8 December 1899 saw the completed chancel opened. The Altars to the Sacred Heart and St. Joseph were added in 1901.

Though still incomplete, the church was consecrated on December 3 1903 by Dr. Walsh, Archbishop of Dublin. This was made possible through the paying off a mortgage that had been a burden for many years by the sale of twelve and a half acres of land to Dublin City Council. This was to be used to build 350 houses. 

Inchicore, Mary Immaculate Church

The beautiful high altar is the work of the father of the Irish patriot Padraig Pearse. In 1930, while Fr. Michael Sweeney was superior, the bell towers were completed. He also added two spacious transepts, enlarged the sacristy, installed electric lighting and a public address system and macadamised the grounds. Fr. Sweeney also built the triple archway connecting the House of Retreat and the church, which was completed in 1946. The mosaics in the two transepts and behind the high altar were added in 1954 by the then superior, Fr. James McDermott Moran. In 1960 Fr. Patrick Sharkey, superior, opened the beautiful Shrine to St. Anne. The Church was totally refurbished and the roof rafters replaced, at considerable cost, by Fr. Edward Quinn, parish priest between 1991 and 1992.

The Community House 1861
In his report on the British Province to the General Chapter of 1861, written at Montolivet on Christmas Eve of that year, Fr. Robert Cooke, provincial, mentions that until November of that year the community had been living in a small house attached to the property. At the time of writing, it had moved into a new residence. The foundation stone of this house, to be called the House of Retreat, had been laid on December 8 1858, by Bishop O’Connor, O.S.A., a great friend of the Oblates. Its design was determined by Fr. Cooke’s hope that this house would be used for residential retreats for the laity, in the manner of those in Brittany. This required a large house and it was built on the style of the scholasticate at Montolivet, Marseilles. It appears there were many requests in Ireland at that time for this kind of retreat. Collections were taken up systematically all over Dublin to raise the money. The House was opened in January 1861. The first enclosed retreat for laymen took place in October 1863, and by the end of that year 124 men had made an enclosed retreat. In 1950 a wing was added, at right angles to the original house, with the hope once again of initiating live-in retreats for the laity but this hope was never realised. It is used for many parish activities. Over the years 2005-6 a total refurbishment of the house took place, with en-suite facilities in each room, some rooms converted into offices, and the library divided to make room for the provincial archives. It has become a place of retirement for many Oblates.

Inchicore, Oblate Scholasticate (AD)

The Oblate Cemetery
The original cemetery had been located where the present School Hall, Arus Mhuire, now stands. It was transferred in 1891 to the present site and designed by Brother Patrick Malone. Recently, some old gravestones have been dug up on this site and are now lying on one of the walls surrounding the cemetery. As of March 2007 there are 278 Oblate brothers and priests buried there and two diocesan priests related to the Oblates. This includes the remains of those buried at Cahirmoyle and Piltown, which were transferred when these houses closed down.

The Crib 1866
The crib is another special devotion of the mission. A small Christmas crib was constructed in the wooden church for Christmas 1856. It was made up of a set of small statuettes that Fr. Laurence P. Fox had brought from London. This small crib attracted great attention throughout Dublin and it is said that during the ensuing years, at Christmastime, the horse-drawn bus service was engaged almost exclusively in carrying people to Inchicore to view and pray at the crib.

Bigger and better figures for the crib were bought and added over the years. In 1866 the crib was moved from its niche in the chapel to an adjoining building. Then a remarkable error made in France saw a wonderful new set of figures arrive. This set of life size wax figures, twenty-seven in all, had been made by a French artist named Pesche for the new Shrine of the Sacred Heart at Montmartre in Paris. The figures proved to be too large for the space allotted for the crib. When the French Oblate priests and seminarians came from Autun to Inchicore in 1880, Fr. Tatin, their superior, remembered these figures and arranged for them to be shipped to Dublin. The crib was arranged in the old church by Brother Patrick Malone, O.M.I., in accord with Pesche’s plans, and it was opened to the public in 1885. In 1937 the need for a new school building and assembly hall required demolishing the old chapel and, in 1938, the crib was housed in the annexe to the House of Retreat known as Leo Hall. The Hall also held a permanent Oblate missionary exhibition. On Christmas Day 1947, the Leo Hall went on fire around midday and the crib figures were totally destroyed. The Crib was set up again on Christmas Day, 1963, at the back of the Lourdes Grotto, by Fr. Patrick Sharkey, superior, with new life-size figures made by Gems of London and Hindsgaul of Denmark.

The Rosary Way
The idea of developing the Marian shrine on the campus at Inchicore was promoted at the provincial congress in 2000. Fr. Ciaran Earley proposed the erection of a Rosary Way in the grounds and secured the services of Helena Brennan, a ceramicist. The artist was commissioned by the Oblates and over the years 2001 to 2004 twenty white porcelain ceramic panels portraying the mysteries of the Rosary in bas-relief were created for display on plinths and put up in the grounds, partially funded by a grant from Dublin City Council. The artist sought to create representations that were really human and represented the different generations.

Local Superiors
Gustave Richard 1856-1857, Robert Cooke 1857-1858, Joseph Arnoux 1858-1860, Laurence Fox 1860-1863, Timothy Gubbins 1863-1869, Patrick Kirby 1869-1873, Nicholas Crane 1873-1875, Timothy Ryan 1875-1877, Matthew Shinnors 1877-1881, Patrick Brady 1881-1886, Stephen Nichol 1886-1892, William Ring 1892-1901, Stephen Nichol 1901-1904, Daniel Wilkinson 1904-1911, Joseph Mc Sherry 1911-1919, Joseph Wheeler l919-1922, Matthew O’Reilly 1922-1925, Michael Sweeney 1925-1934, Daniel Collier 1934-1940, Michael Sweeney 1940-1946, Michel Butler 1946-1952, James Moran 1952-1957, Patrick Sharkey 1957-1964, John Mulvany 1964-1969, Denis Bourke 1969-1975, Brian Flanagan 1975-1981, Patrick Nolan 1981-1987, Edward McSherry 1987-1991, Patrick McArdle 1991-1995, Bert Bromley 1995-1998, William McGonagle 1998-2001, Thomas Scully 2001-2007, Anthony Clancy 2007-

List of parish priests and clergy
Parish priests: Peader Dunne 1972-78, Charles O’Connor 1978-81, Patrick Nolan 1981-87, James Nolan 1987-88, Edward Quinn 1988-94, Thomas Devereaux 1994-98, Patrick Carolan 1998-04, Michael O’Connor 2004- .

Oblate assistant clergy: Frs. William Morrisey, Patrick Hawkes, Michael Kennedy, John Wall, Maurice Lyons, Michael McGhee, Thomas Brady, Francis Gormley, William McGonagle, Herbert Bromley, Br. Francis Flanagan, Fr. Michael Guckian, and Br. Francis Flanagan.

Richard Haslam
and Michael Hughes, o.m.i.