One of the largest churches in Ireland has celebrated its final Mass and is to be demolished.
The 3,500-capacity Church of the Annunciation in Finglas in North Dublin was opened in 1967, but has seen attendances wane.
It is to be replaced by a smaller building housing a 10th of that number, with the extra land to be used for social services and housing for the elderly.
Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said: “Times are changing and we all realise that whatever our emotional bond and attachment with this Church, it has become too large for today’s needs, maintenance has become problematic and its structure is showing signs of its age.
“It is time to take a new look at our needs and start a new beginning.”
The place of worship was opened when John Charles McQuaid was Archbishop of Dublin.
Archbishop Martin said the people who came to Finglas when the Church was being built arrived with very little financial means.
He said: “Despite having scarce financial wealth, they built up something that has lasted. Housing estates were turned into communities.
“Generations emerged of hard-working people who knew what good neighbourliness means.
“Young people were accompanied and the elderly were respected.
“We have to ensure that this spirit endures and where things go wrong we have to rediscover what is best in this community.”
He said the church had been a landmark physically and a landmark in the history of the community.
“Even those who no longer have any link with the Church have an affection for it and a recognition of what this Church has meant over the years for Finglas,” he added.
He said it was a day of mixed feelings.
“I would rather have been setting out to open a new Church than to find myself closing a building that has meant so much to this community over the years.”
He said the church has also been intimately linked with the local schools and many local organisations.
“Rarely has a church building been so much the focal point around which community flourished.”
He said there should be encouragement in changing times.
“There are those who will only see in our gathering today a negative sign. They will see it only as a sign of a declining Church.
“We who believe in Jesus Christ know however that God is faithful and he renews his Church in remarkable ways.”
- Press Association