Raheny, Dublin, Ireland  (Rath Éanna, Baile Átha Cliath, Éire)

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Religion in Raheny

Raheny's history, like that of many areas, is often recorded around religious developments and like the lands of Baldoyle and Kilbarrack (much of which formed Grange lands for city Church establishments), Raheny spent much time as religious property. The district today has a number of churches and church-sponsored schools.

The earliest reference to Raheny is one linking it to a saint in 570 A.D. and tradition has it as an early Christian site. Later it came under the power of the major monastery of Inis Neasan.

St. Assam is the local saint; he was also known as St. Assan (and other forms besides, Aazanius in Latin, for example, and perhaps St. Ascicus) and was possibly a disciple of St. Patrick. A Holy Well of St. Assam was active (in what are now the grounds of the Catholic church) until sometime in the last century and is now concealed. More popular until later was the Holy Well of St. Anne, now within the bounds of St. Anne's Park and sadly dry.

In the centre of the village, on an island of land between roads, stands the ruin of the Church of St. Assam. The old church was built in 1712, probably replacing a building of 1609, itself a successor on a church site which the tradition has going back nearly 1500 years (it lies within the bounds of the rath or fort for which Raheny is named). This was in ruins by the early 20th century and was eventually transferred from the Church of Ireland to Dublin Corporation, in whose care it now rests.

Raheny Parish, with origins in the ancient (larger) Parish of Raheny, is the biggest element of the Catholic structure in the district, though several other parishes are also present, such as Edenmore and Grange Park, and, partly in Raheny, Killester and Kilbarrack-Foxfield).

The current Catholic church for Raheny Parish is the Church of Our Lady Mother of Divine Grace, a modern building which, together with its bell-tower, dominates the village centre, standing in its own grounds overlooking the main road and running down into the village river, the Santry. It has a most interesting frontage of triangles-within-triangles based on a Celtic (Hiberno-Romanesque) work style and filled with stained glass, which with other window effects, gives a unique internal light below the latticed wooden roof and carved crucifix. The previous church, also named for St. Assam, stands across the road; it first opened in 1864. It is now a parish hall and also hosts the parish Youth Club, St. Joseph's. There is also a church at the Capuchin Friary on a hill to the north of the village and a chapel at the Poor Servants of the Mother of God Convent (St. Mary's)/ Manor House School complex.

The church for the Kilbarrack-Foxfield Parish (formerly Foxfield St. John Parish) lies near the boundary between the two areas and is dedicated to St. John. The church for Grange Park Parish, formed out of some of north Raheny, opposite Edenmore, is St. Benedict's. Killester Parish, in union with Raheny for many years, has its church, dedicated to St. Brigid, a little to the east of Killester Village, near the crossroads where Raheny, Clontarf, Killester and Artane more or less meet.

In the Church of Ireland, Raheny is in a Union with Coolock. The church is the elaborate, beautiful and internationally-noted Church of All Saints, which became the parish church in 1889. It is in a gothic style, in granite and limestone, and was paid for by the then head of the Guinness family, whose main estate was St. Anne's. It is not especially large (no more than 23m by 15m) but features a fine spire (over 33m). The interior is of exceptional quality, with a floor of oak and mosaic, carved wooden fittings and a roof of pitch pine.

Both parish churches in Raheny village itself are floodlit nightly.

There are also congregations of Methodists, Presbyterians, Plymouth Brethern (church building in Bettyglen Estate) and many others covering the area.

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