The Booterstown Complex
Few will deny that our Church, with its attendant School, Parochial Centre, Lodge and Rectory, in its secluded setting (even on a busy road) is one of the most appealing in the Republic’s urban areas. It has been likened, perhaps over-generously, to a miniature Cathedral externally. The progression to this Complex is of some interest as we shall now see.
In 1826, the first parochial school building was erected at a cost of £700. Looking back to the report of the consecration of the church in 1824 readers will note that the Venerable Archdeacon Torrens’ charge to the parishioners regarding a school bore fruit!
The building was superseded in the mid-1950s by the present structure. Surely this must qualify for that much abused word “delightful” in its sturdy simplicity and harmony with the adjoining Church of St. Philip and St. James. Officially opened by Eamon de Valera, a man who spent so much of his long life in Booterstown, one of the treasured parochial photographs shows this normally stern-faced man enjoying, with Archbishop Simms and the then Rector, Canon Bateman, what we Irish call a “real good laugh”.
The tradition of excellent education in Booterstown School is now legendary, a fact to which a multitude of parents (the writer of this history included) can warmly testify. How many of us recall, nostalgically, leaving little ones for the first time in their lives into the care of Kathleen Blake and her assistants, and of the kindness and sound education received, until their departure to secondary school. Now Booterstown School continues into the last two decades of the 20th Century in the able hands of its Headmaster, William Stuart, carrying on its proud history.
THE PAROCHIAL CENTRE
In 1966 the decision was taken by the present Rector and his Select Vestry to demolish the old Parochial Hall and much of the old School Building, and to erect in their place a new Parochial Centre.
An Act of Faith, well justified, as the intervening years have shown. This building, the Parish decided, was to be named the Carysfort Hall for reasons which will emerge later in this narrative. It was formally opened and dedicated on 29th April, 1967 by the then Lord Archbishop of Dublin, Most Rev. George Otto Simms, Ph. D., D.D., in the presence of a very large and appreciative gathering.
The Builder was Messrs. Hodgins Ltd., Fairview, Dublin.
A small part of the older building remains and blends happily with the new, many people would, perhaps, agree?
Buildings provide facilities, people bring these to life. Since the Centre was opened, 17 years ago, a broad spectrum of activities has been the rule. Girl Guides, Scouts, Wolf Cubs, Brownies, Bowling, Badminton, Dramatics and a wide variety of cultural and social events, organised often by the very active ladies of Booterstown Parish. Needless to say, many of these activities existed well before the new facilities were built in 1967 but this building project provided the necessary scope for expansion.
Browsing through some Booterstown Parish magazines for the earlier part of this century, 1908 to be exact, one is struck by the perhaps quieter range of social activities. We find the “Penny Club” meeting on Monday mornings at 11.30 a.m. The purpose of this is obscure but sounds fascinating. On Wednesday at 12.15 p.m. the Parochial Library opened for business, emulating Andrew Carnegie!
The “Gleaner Union” was obviously a Missionary Support Group and, indeed, the magazine just quoted records a great fete in the beautiful grounds of Mount Merrion (by kind permission of Lord Pembroke). This was visited by “our own Missionary, George Farrow,” who then laboured (not as our present one does in Ruanda) but in the Paraguayan Chaco of South America.