ST. COLUMBA’S CHURCH IN SWORDS [April 2015] REF-103361
Georgian churches are scarcer than Victorian churches. Well known Georgian style churches in Ireland include St George’s Church in Hardwicke Place and St Stephen’s (Pepper Cannister) Church on Mount St , both in Dublin, St Peter’s Church in Drogheda and to a lesser extent St. Columba’s in Swords.
St Columba’s Church in Swords is an early 19th-century Georgian church. It was designed by Francis Johnson in the Gothic style of the Chapel Royal in Dublin Castle. The noteworthy external features are the stepped buttresses, pinnacles and crenellated parapet – all in limestone.
The interior has simple elegant plasterwork, carved timber pews and cut stone memorials which pre-date the building. The stained glass East window by Joshua Bradley is deemed to be one of the oldest stained glass windows in Ireland.
A medieval square tower and an intact 10th-century round tower are among the ecclesiastical monuments in the church grounds. Brian Boru was waked in the abbey church which adjoined the medieval tower. St Columba’s is on the list of protected structures in Fingal County Council as well as being on the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
A section of the ceiling collapsed in April, 2013. There are also many instances of dry rot on the ceiling and internal walls. The church was closed for use following the partial collapse of the ceiling and church services are currently held in the nearby parish centre. The West window was bricked up when a tree fell through it.
The church was re-roofed in 2007 – but not before water seeped through into the ceiling and internal rubbled walls causing extensive dry rot throughout the interior. Complete restoration costs including electrical work, conservation plasterwork and re-painting of the interior are estimated at €500,000.
The parishioners of St Columba’s have established building and fundraising committees to work towards the repair and re-opening of the church. Campaigning websites savesaintcolumbaschurch.org and helpusmakehistory.org and a restoration fund has already raised €9,000.