Location of the Church
St. Nicholas’s Parish Church is situated between Church Street, Nicholas Street and Church Lane (now Yorke Street). The church is located on gravel banks on one of the highest points in the town of Dundalk. In the past, it was one of the landmarks boats could see as they came into Dundalk Bay. The church’s green spire can be seen for miles in any direction, and is an integral part of the Dundalk skyline. It is reported that the seashore came to the back wall of St. Nicholas’s Church, but according to old maps it appears the original town boundary was further down Wellington Place (now St. Mary’s Road).
The Church and Dundalk
St. Nicholas’s Parish Churchyard is the only churchyard in Dundalk. The church and churchyard have a long-standing link with the town and its people. Many place names in Dundalk come from people who are buried in the churchyard, such as Henry Backhouse, John Crowe, Aldborough Wrightson, and the Coulter family. The well-known writer William Makepeace Thackeray visited the town in 1842 and wrote about it in his Sketch Book of 1842. The landscape and landmarks were described by Thackeray, who had a connection to Dundalk in that he was a relative of Rev. Elias Thackeray, the rector of St. Nicholas’s Parish Church.
There were many local businesses from the town which had connections to the Green Church and its churchyard. These businesses included Joseph Hesse and his hosiery and shirt making factory; Malcolm Brown and his distillery; Samuel Parks & Son, Fairgreen, the building contractors and B. Patteson & Co, the drapery in Clanbrassil Street.
Before the national school system was introduced the parish of St. Nicholas was responsible for educating all the children of the parish. Regardless of faith, local children attended the Wellington School / St Nicholas’s Male and Female School which was under the supervision of Rev. Elias Thackeray. While the school was of the Protestant ethos, the school provided for the educational needs of all children in the town.
Years later the school became the Wellington Hall and was a home for a local scout group and their headquarters until they merged with other Dundalk groups. In 2012, nearly two hundred years after it was built, the Wellington Hall was refurbished for the purpose of the local community. St. Nicholas’s Parish Church and the Wellington hall have gone on to provide a venue for many local concerts and shows. In 2019, St. Nicholas’s National School, the local Church of Ireland school, took up temporary residence in the Wellington Hall while their building project is under way.
This work would never have been possible without the generous funding provided by the EU’s Peace IV Programme, which is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body.