Fr Michael Dungan's Blanchardstown, 1836–1868
In 1826, seven hundred parishioners from the Catholic parish of Blanchardstown sent a petition to Archbishop Murray requesting that he institute an inquiry among the laity, who complained of ‘a system of neglect unexampled in any other parish n the diocese’. This neglect, according to the parishioners arose from the many changes of curates and from ‘the unfortunate circumstances of the Rev Gentleman over them having devoted himself to concerns by which he became a stranger in his own parish and lost the respect which is necessary between pastor and flock’.
It is against this background that thirty-seven-year-old Fr Michael Dungan took up his appointment as parish priest of St Brigid’s, Blanchardstown, on 29 October 1836. He was the first Maynooth parish priest to serve there.
This study attempts to reconstruct the parish as it was in the period of that pastorate, 1836–68. This period was a formative time in the life of the Irish Church. The changes and developments that took place in this parish may be seen as a microcosm of what was happening in the archdiocese of Dublin and in the country as a whole. The study profiles a parish priest who accomplished great changes, because he was not only an energetic, highly organized administrator, but also a great facilitator.
Elizabeth Cronin, a native of Tipperary, has lived in Blanchardstown since 1973 and teaches in Loreto College, Swords.