History of St. Columba’s Parish
A very detailed history of the parish, and the wider area, was published by The Centenary Committee in 2005. Heart of Iona-A People, A Parish, A Place is available through the parish office, and has two hundred and twenty-five pages of local history, covering such nationally important sites within the parish such as Glasnevin Cemetery and the National Botanic Gardens. It also details parish groups over the years, social and cultural history and sport, and much more besides!
The establishment of the Parish of St. Columba, and the construction of the present church, is tied up with the development and expansion of the new areas of Drumcondra and Glasnevin in the late 19th century.
Acquiring a site, in a district where most of the land lay in the hands of Protestants, led Fr. John Byrne to the Redemptoristine Sisters in St. Alphonsus Convent in Drumcondra, who sold him a six-acre section of their farmland for £1200. Work started on the site in 1903 and the foundation stone was laid and blessed on August 7th, three days after the election of Pope Pius X, giving St. Columba’s the honour of being the first church in Christendom to have his name engraved on its cornerstone. Designed by Dublin architects Ashlin and Coleman it took two years to complete, included several Celtic designs and cost a total of £24,000. The official opening and blessing took place on October 15th 1905 with the appointment of Fr. John Byrne as Parish Priest. In dedicating the church to St. Columba, the Glasnevin connection was again embraced. It can be traced back to St. Mobhi’s sixth century monastery on Glasnevin Hill where Columba studied before embarking on his journey to the Scottish island of Iona where he established a similar monastery.