Designed by Peppard and Duffy and completed in 1962, the hulking church of Our Lady Mother of Divine Grace is quite a dominant presence in Raheny village.
The main entrance is framed within a huge triangle, inset with dozens of smaller triangles repeating in a positive/negative pattern that creates some great shadows. It draws on a motif from romanesque Irish churches and abbeys, like Clonfert Cathedral here:
(Photo by Wikipedia user JohnArmagh)
There are long, thin stained glass panels like gills framed in concrete, which seem like quite a successful integration of a traditional church element. The exterior walls of the aisles – that is, the lower side parts of the mass, sitting with the higher nave portion between them – step in and out in a concertina pattern, while the nave walls incorporate the glazing in an offset waffle-like frame.
There’s a lot of ornament going on, with the overlapping slate cladding on ground floor level, the busy pattern of the railing to either side of the entrance, and many different three-dimensional shapes surrounding windows. I like the small hexagons sitting up high in a set of five particularly.
It’s a huge church, and walking around it, it’s in turns striking, awkward, a little ungainly and then beautiful for all of that. There’s something about the low strip of auxiliary accommodation to the rear that brings to mind a primary school, neat and ordered and institutional with slim canopies cantilevered over the doors. The low pitch of the angles throughout is beguiling too, feeling very much out of current fashion but working as a consistent motif. My only reservation would be that it feels slightly compromised, a few too many dull colours and ordinary facilities that aren’t fully integrated with the dramatic, huge elements that work so well.
(I didn’t get to visit the interior as, being a master of bad timing, I arrived just after a wedding had started.)