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St. Peter’s Church has an interesting history, with several distinctive layers of development that adds to its interest and complexity. It was constructed in several phases; beginning as a chapel dating from the early decades of the nineteenth century, the building as found today dates mainly from the 1860’s and the early twentieth century. The church’s impressive tower which was designed by Ashlin & Coleman, a renowned firm of architect’s who were given the task of unifying the structure into a coherent expression of Gothic Revival architecture, dominates the northern edge of Dublin’s inner city. The older aspe and transepts are considered to be one of the most complete examples of the French Gothic style in Dublin. Aside from its vast scale, the interior of the church contains many fine original features such as the joinery, mosaic and parquet floors together with an impressive collection of stained glass windows. Most of these windows are by established studios such as Lobin of Tours in the aspe and the Irish master, Harry Clarke.
All of these various strands of interest and built heritage can be said to combine to make an historic place of regional significance and as such it is important that this heritage be preserved. However, the work that is required is of such a scale that works have had to be phased and will be ongoing for a number of years. Dublin City Council and the Heritage Council are part-funding the works but the cost of all the works far exceed the value of the grants. Without help we will be unable to complete the repair works to the building.
Although the church is well built and is generally in a reasonable state of repair with the exception of some areas of the roof and rainwater disposal system, the windows generally and some of the plaster finishes. The roof failures to the aspe, the flat roofs to the north and south sides and the nave are causing water damage to the internal finishes and fittings, and they require urgent repair, after which the internal finishes will have to be carefully conserved and redecorated. The stained glass windows also provide some cause for concern. The main issue about the stained glass windows is the damage being caused by the inappropriate fitting of unventilated glazing. This has resulted in widespread damage and distortion to the lead work in both stained and coloured glass panels. There are also a number of health and safety concerns which need to be addressed including asbestos which has to be removed, repairs to external railings and levelling of the internal parquet floor. All of these problems need to be addressed in order to preserve the building and its heritage for future generations in Phibsboro.
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