Walking down Sean MacDermott Street recently, I was drawn to this building as I am each time I go down there. It had to be photographed. The contrast between it and all around it is something else, and I had to do some digging to find out more. The natural man to ask was Terry Fagan of the North Inner City Folklore Project, who has written on the history of the area, in particular Monto. An interview we recorded with Terry appeared on the site before.
This was the Scots Presbyterian Church which later relocated to the corner of Howth Road and Clontarf Road, opposite Fairview Park and Clontarf DART station, Terry informed me. While digging around revealed some discussion the architectural merits of the building, Terry gave some interesting social insight on the church:
They helped the ladies of the night in the Monto who wanted out from that life. They ran a school across the road from the church which attracted a lot of poor children who went to get the free soup.
In 1910 the bishop’s built a school on Rutland Street to counter act the work of the free-soupers. There was hand to hand fighting by different groups to prevent the children going to the Presbyterian school as they used to come home with anti-Catholic literature.
This was like a red rag to a bull to the groups who marched on the school “To save the souls of the Children”. The school closed up sometime in the late 1960s.
A poster on broadsheet.ie noted that the church had even appeared on the cover of the single Keep On Chewin’ from Jubilee Allstars! The building featured on broadsheet as one of their frequent posts on unusual locations in the city.