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'Pinnacles, Pomp & Piety'

Minister Simon Harris TD, Minister of State with special responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW) was in Dublin Castle recently to launch 'Pinnacles, Pomp & Piety', an exhibition on Dublin Castle's Chapel Royal.  The exhibition is on display in the State Apartments, marking the bicentenary of the Chapel Royal.

Included in the exhibition are many of the original contents from the Chapel, such as furniture, silverware and historic drawings.  It brings together the work of a variety of artists, craftsmen and patrons, each of whom have contributed to the handsome and historic structure on view today.

A beautifully illustrated book, 'The Chapel Royal, Dublin Castle – An Architectural History', accompanies the exhibition.  Rachel Moss, Judith Hill and Joseph McDonnell are among the contributors covering a diverse range of subjects from music to liturgy, to the art of book binding and stained glass and from stuccowork to plate, pinnacles and carved stone.

Speaking ahead of the event, Minister Harris said “I am delighted that my office, the OPW, has curated this exhibition and book on The Chapel Royal in Dublin Castle.   Little known facts about the Chapel such as it costing more then the nearby General Post Office will intrigue all of those interested in our wonderful public buildings.   From the first service held there on Christmas Day in 1814 right up to the present day, the Chapel has been witness to many historical personalities and events.  As the Castle welcomes over 250,000 visitors each year, this exhibition will be a wonderful addition to the visitor experience”.

The exhibition will be on display in the State Apartments, Dublin Castle from 29th Setpember 2015 until 6 March 2016.

  • Monday - Saturday: 09.45 - 16.45
  • Sunday and Public Holidays: 12.00 - 16.45

Entrance to this exhibition is available by taking the Guided Tour or the Self Guiding option. Please note normal admission prices apply.

Brief History of the Chapel:

From its opening on Christmas Day 1814, the new Chapel served as a central focus of the spiritual and social life of successive Lords Lieutenant, or Viceroys, who continued to represent the interests of British monarchs in Ireland until 1922. Its primary function was as a setting for regular Anglican worship each Sunday, with dedicated pews reserved for the Lord Lieutenant and his household. On more prestigious occasions, it played witness to all the protocol and pageantry of royal visits, such as that of King George IV, who attended divine service in September 1821. Far from being solely a place of religious ceremony, it gradually developed as an extension of the social of life of the State Apartments: an arena in which piety and pomp went hand in hand.

One hundred years later, political expediency had necessitated the appointment of a Roman Catholic Viceroy, as a token of Britain’s conciliatory attitude to the ever-louder cries for Irish independence. The selection of Viscount FitzAlan of Derwent as Viceroy swiftly prompted criticism of the “anomalous position” of the Chapel Royal, as a Protestant church that could not be attended by the new Catholic Viceroy but that still remained “a charge on the taxpayers”. But it mattered little. The first Catholic Viceroy for centuries soon became the last ever Viceroy of Ireland. Following the foundation of the Irish Free State on 16 January 1922 the Chapel Royal’s future looked uncertain. In 1943, it was re-dedicated as a Roman Catholic church for use by the Irish Defence Forces. Its eventual closure for major renovations in 1983 signalled a renewed period of dormancy from which it has once again begun to emerge.

The Chapel now features on the Dublin Castle guided tour.