St. Annes Church – Portmarnock
Image by infomatique
Tradition has it that St. Marnock, a contemporary of St Patrick, first introduced Christianity to Portmarnock. He reputedly baptised the people of Portmarnock at a well, which was situated near the old graveyard on Strand Road. This became known locally as St. Marnock’s well. Nearby he built a simple church. The Church was long gone by the twelfth century when a new church was built on the site. This church survived until about the sixteen hundreds when it fell into disuse. During penal times a mass rock is believed to have existed on the Beechwood estate near the Portmarnock Sports and Leisure Club. This mass rock survived until the early nineteen hundreds.
After Catholic Emancipation the Catholic Church slowly began to reorganise itself and by the late eighteen hundreds the parish of Baldoyle, which included Portmarnock had succeeded in building a church. The people of Portmarnock attended at this church right up to 1934 when Archbishop Byrne blessed and dedicated the new tin church as a chapel of ease for Baldoyle. The church was built on a site in the centre of the village donated by Larry O’Neill the former Lord Mayor of Dublin. His only request was that the church be dedicated to St Anne to whom he had great devotion. St Anne’s was to be a temporary church. Built at a cost of £1,800 it was guaranteed to last for 20 years. In fact the tin church was in use for 50 years. Fr Leo Donlon was Portmarnock’s first resident priest. He arrived in 1965 and resided here until his tragic drowning in 1970.
In 1972 Portmarnock became a parish in its own right. The first parish priest was Father Hayes. By the mid 1970’s the small village church was unable to cope with the growing population and for a time, up to 1979, one mass each Sunday was celebrated in the ballroom of the Country Club Hotel. In 1979 a temporary Church of the Holy Family was built at the top end of the parish. Meanwhile plans were afoot for the construction of a modern parish church.
The present St Annes Church was built at a cost of £374,000 and is designed to seat 800 worshipers. The Church was blessed and dedicated by Archbishop Dermot Ryan in 1982. Ever mindful of the growing needs of the parish an ambitious plan to build a parish centre was conceived. This was brought to fruition in 2002 when the parish centre was blessed by Cardinal Connell and officially opened by Sr. Stanislaus Kennedy. Since its opening the parish centre has become the hub of all parish activity.