In the historical records one English Methodist Minister is referred to again and again during the first half of the nineteenth century as having been appointed to accompany the British President to attend the Irish Conference. His name was Robert Newton and, in fact, in 1825 he presided as President at the Wesleyan Conference, assembled that year, for the first time, in Cork. Obviously Ireland was very much in his heart.
So it was fitting that it was Rev. Robert Newton who came to Ireland to open two new chapels in 1836. On Tuesday morning, 8th March, he arrived in Dublin and preached twice that day at the opening of the Kingstown church, while on the following evening he conducted the opening service at the new church at Wexford. Dr. Newton had brought with him a gift from the Leeds congregation of £25 and this was divided between Kingstown and Wexford.
At the following Conference the Rev. Charles Mayne settled in Kingstown as a Supernumary, and spent his remaining strength in the work to which he had devoted his life. A memorial to him still adorns the rear wall of the present church, just under the lovely lily window. A second memorial, on the front wall of our church, reminds us that while ministers changed regularly every two or three years, some of the laity held responsible posts for a considerably longer period. It was erected by the Trustees of the Church in memory of "William Ormsby McCormick, J.P., Circuit Steward for a period of over 40 years. Born 24 May 1819. Died 18 July 1894".
The site of the original church was held under a lease which expired in 1903 and the grant of a new lease was made on the condition that a new modern building would be erected. The raising of £5,000 for this project appears, for the most part, to have fallen on the strong shoulders of Rev. James M. Alley, who had been appointed as the minister to Kingstown in that year. The Architect was Mr. George F. Beckett who, as a young man, won a competition for the best plan. His architectural gem was dedicated in 1904 and its jubilee was recognised in 1954 when Rev. George Kell, a recently returned missionary, was the superintendent of the Dun Laoghaire circuit.
The appointment of Rev. Robert Livingstone in 1955 as superintendent of the circuit issued in a period of spiritual activity and growth. Mr. Livingstone applied himself to building up the Methodist cause in Dun Laoghaire, both through the proclamation of the Gospel and also by holding special evangelistic services. As a result, both the adult congregation and the Sunday School membership increased considerably. He also inspected the development plans for the area and realised that the population of Dun Laoghaire was about to expand rapidly. He urged the Leaders to prepare themselves for still greater numbers. As a result the Leaders agreed to have plans prepared for increasing the capacity of the church and also for building suitable ancillary buildings, including a Quiet Room, a fine new hall with adjacent kitchen, together with class rooms and toilet facilities.
We were fortunate that Mr. George F. Beckett was still available and indeed he and his family were members of our congregation at that time. Mr. Beckett was able to inform us that his original plan included additional pews extending outwards from the two side aisles and he was delighted to complete this plan which gave us an additional seating capacity of 100.
All these plans were passed by the Quarterly Board and it was noted that the cost would be in the region of £27,000, towards which £5,000 was received from the Church Extension Fund.
The foundation stone was dedicated on 15th June, 1957, by the British President, Rev. Dr. H. Crawford Walters, and just twelve months later the extended church was formally opened by that year's President, Rev. Dr. Harold Roberts.
Any history of this period would not be complete without mentioning the name of Frank McDonald. Frank was both poet and prophet. He became well-known over the whole Dublin District as an outstanding Local Preacher. Above all he was a lovable character and brought laughter and encouragement to a wide circle of friends. Frank lost his only son "Teddy" during the second World War, but his faith shone through in bad times as well as good. We salute the memory of both father and son.
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