Lord Portlester's Chapel

St Audeon's Church, Dublin

From The Dublin Penny Journal, Volume 1, Number 26, December 22, 1832.

Lord Portlester's Chapel: St Audeon's Church Dublin

There is, perhaps, no ancient city of present importance in the British Islands, that has preserved so few ancient architectural remains, as our own metropolis. Of modern ruins we have, alas, but too many—but of ancient ones, such as the mind could take pleasure in surveying, there is almost none : there is not even a single house remaining, erected previous to the last century, and with the exception of our venerable Cathedrals, we have no one important architectural characteristic of an ancient city, and no ecclesiastical ruin of any kind, except the little chapel which is the subject of our prefixed illustration.

This ruin, which is scarcely known even to most of our fellow citizens, constitutes a portion of the ancient church of St. Audeon's parish, which was once the most wealthy and respectable within the city. The date of the original foundation of this church, is unknown—it certainly existed previous to the arrival of the English, and was appropriated to the treasurer of the Cathedral of St. Patrick, by Archbishop Henry de Loundres, in 1213, and in 1467 erected into a distinct prebendary. The present church, however, has no claim to such remote antiquity, as it exhibits the architectural peculiarities of the 14th and 15th centuries. It originally consisted of a double aisle, separated by six massive octagonal columns, supporting gothic or pointed arches ; but the present church only occupies a fourth of the original edifice, the remainder being, as represented in our engraving, in complete ruin.

This parish church was eminently distinguished for its ancient monumental remains, few of which, however, have survived. Amongst these, one particularly deserving of attention lies near the east end of the south aisle. It is a handsome table monument, of black marble, bearing the recumbent effigies of a knight in armour, and his lady, and is still remarkably perfect.

This tomb was erected in the year 1455, by a remarkable character of his time, Sir Roland Fitz-Eustace, Baron Portlester, in the County of Kildare, He successively filled the important offices of Deputy, under the Lord Lieutenancy of Ireland, of George, Duke of Clarence, the brother of Edward the Fourth—then of Lord Chancellor—and lastly, High Treasurer of the Kingdom, which place he held for no less a period than 38 years. He was enobled under the title of Baron of Portlester, by Edward the Fourth, in 1462; but after all this accumulation of honours, he ultimately experienced the vicissitudes of human life, having before his death been removed from the treasurership, and subjected to many troubles and afflictions. He died in the year 1496, and was interred in the Franciscan Abbey Church of New Abbey, in the county of Kildare, which he had himself founded, and in which there is a similar monument to his memory, and that of his lady, the daughter of Jenico d'Artois.

The tomb in St. Audeon's Church bears on the margin the following inscription in the black letter or gothic character:

"Orate pro anima Rolandi Fitz Eustace de

Portlester, qui hunc locum sive rapellum dedit, in

honorem beatae Mariae Virginis, etiam pro anima

Margaritae uroris suae, et pro animabus omnium

fidelium defunctorum."

The steeple of this church was rebuilt in 1670, the former one having been blown down in 1668.

The history of the Eustace family is of considerable interest and shall be given in a future number.