St. Audoen’s is one of the oldest structures in Dublin and was built between 1181-1212; working starting shortly after the arrival of the Anglo-Normans in Ireland in 1170. The church is dedicated to St. Audoen (Ouen in French) who was the patron saint of Normandy. The building work took place when John Comyn was, not surprisingly, the first Anglo-Norman Archbishop of Dublin. Interestingly though, a grave slab that can be seen in the church porch, has led archaeologists to suggest that there was a church previously on the site. This is known as the Lucky Stone and parishioners and visitors have ‘rubbed it for luck’ for centuries. Maybe you should give it a try sometime!
As the church was on High Street, in the centre of the medieval city, it became a valued and respected institution. And over the years, and its association with the growing, wealthy parishioners, it too became prosperous. One of the ways in which the church prospered was through chantries. These were endowments to fund the singing of prayers and hymns by priests for the salvation of the benefactor’s soul. From this the Guild of St. Anne was founded in 1430. One of its most high-profile members was Sir Roland FitzEustace, Lord Portlester, who paid for the erection of a chapel dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. And there is a magnificent cenotaph commemorating him and his wife Margaret, in the Tower.
The Tower has had a chequered history having collapsed and being badly maintained for many years. But work in the early 1980s has rendered it safe, although it is not accessible to the public. Inside there are six bells that date back to the 1420s and they ring out every week. And the clock on the tower came from St. Peter’s Church (Aungier Street) and dates to the 1820s.There is much to see and learn here – check it out.