The Black Church or St. Mary's Chapel-of-Ease (its real name) on St. Mary's Place was built in 1830. It was believed that if you ran around the church three times at midnight, the devil would appear and steal your soul.
This video is designed as a resource for primary and post-primary students up to Junior Certificate.
The Black Church
The Black Church or St Mary’s Chapel-of-Ease, (its real name), on St Mary’s Place around the corner from Mountjoy Street, is possibly Dublin’s spookiest church. It was built in 1830 to serve the Church of Ireland community. At that time this was a posh part of Dublin. The stone that was used throughout is called calp stone and looks dark after rain. Because of this, Dubliners began calling it ‘the Black Church’. However, a much darker legend soon became associated with it. It was believed that if you ran around the church three times at midnight, the devil would appear and steal your soul. Nobody knows if this is true as few have been brave enough to try it!
The church was designed by an architect named John Semple. It has sharp needle-like spires and a deep-set door and thin windows, which end in a pointed arch. But what is most amazing is what it looks like inside: its walls are not straight but round and the whole inside appears like one big arch. It’s a bit like stepping into a big beer barrel lying on its side.
Soon after the church was built, the southside of the city became more fashionable and many wealthy people went to live there. The neighbourhood changed a lot and now the Black Church sits like an island between two roads with no green area around it and looks a little sad.
It was closed in the 1960s because the numbers of people at the services had become too small – not because people were too scared to go there. It was sold to Dublin City Council who used it for exhibitions for a short while.
In 1962, a famous Irish poet named Austin Clarke wrote about his memories of the Church in “Twice Around the Black Church: Early Memories” (Note: It is not called “Three times around the Black Church ”- I wonder why !!!).
Today it is home to a number of businesses and its spooky legend is long forgotten.