Peters’ “Dublin Fragments” tells us that the origin of the dedication to last James was about 1220. A hospital was founded on Lazar’s Hill for pilgrims intending to embark for the shrine of St James of Campostella, the Patron of Lepers. This hospital tradition it says, stood on the site of the Theatre Royal. So along the oldest main road into Dublin, through St James Gate, the pilgrims past through on their way to Spain.
Outside St James Gate the pilgrims shrine was built, at the junction of Thomas St and Watling St. This became the parish of St Catherine inside the gate and the Parish of St James outside the gate around 1170, under Archbishop Laurence O Toole, who attached the parishes to the Abbey of St Thomas á Beckett (who gave his name to Thomas St).
At the suppression of the monasteries in 1539 the people were driven away from their church and went to hear Mass, in secret, in back lanes.
The first priest we hear of in St James Parish is Fr William Donagh, in 1616, who had a Mass chamber over the house of Mr Carroll a victualler on Thomas St.
They only went to the old grave yard on James St (now in the hands of Dublin City Council) to bury the dead.Tradition tells of an old custom of circling the Fountain in James Street three times, in order to recite the burial service. Click here for more about St James’s history.
Fr. Eugene Taaffe PP
Tel: 087 2525196