Although restoration work will preserve one of Dublin's favourite traditional churches, congregation numbers are in decline.
The church boasts the highest standing spire in central Dublin and some of its treasures include exterior statues and stonework carved by James Pearse father of Padraig and Willie Pearse, along with priceless stained glass windows by John Early, Michael Healy and the Harry Clarke Studios.
Since the church opened in 1874 the environment has been gradually eroding its delicate sandstone, and a major restoration project is underway. Restoration worker Walter Cullen explains that as acid rain is eating away at the sandstone, the damaged stone has to be be cut back, consolidated with a special chemical treatment and repaired with special mortar. They must
Do it in a fashion, that we don’t spoil the appearance of the place, retain the original appearance.
The restoration work revealed other damage to the church such as extensive dry rot in the roof timbers and perforations in the copper roofing caused by the church’s central heating system. From an original estimate of half a million pounds, the cost of the restoration work quickly doubled in price.
Augustinian, Father John Byrne believes people attend John’s Lane Church because they like a traditional church. The community has an average age of 59 and the church caters to the needs of the middle aged and elderly groups. Fr Byrne is aware that only a quarter of those attending John’s Lane Church are under 40 years old. He wonders if they are going elsewhere, and acknowledges that finding new ways to meet the needs of younger people must be explored.
An RTÉ News report broadcast on 30 November 1988. The reporter is Colm Connolly.