Preserving Dun Laoghaire’s History-Dun Laoghaire Christian Institute

The Dun Laoghaire Christian Institute (originally founded as Kingstown Mens Christian Institute) has closed, and the building is up for sale, but the history will be preserved.

On April 4th on behalf of the Genealogical Society of Ireland, Tom Conlon accepted from the trustees of the Institute the full records of the Institute for preservation in the Society’s archives in Loughlinstown. The records include the minute books, membership records, and financial records going back to the foundation in the early 1890s. These records will be made available for serious research in Loughlinstown.

The Kingstown Men’s Christian Institute was set up in the late Victorian period to cater initially for the Protestant community. Later, it opened its doors to Catholics and women in 1977. The founder and benefactor, William McComas of The Grange, Monkstown, funded the construction of the Institute building on Upper George’s St, and additionally provided a capital fund of £10,000 for the Institute.

Reading through the minute books, one finds references to the wide range of activities of the Institute, not only those organised by the institute itself, but many activities of other organisations facilitated in rooms of the Institute. The Institute had an extensive gymnasium, an active literary and debating society, a tea room, a games room, and at least 3 classrooms.

Although membership of the society was exclusively male, a committee was formed in 1893 to arrange ladies gymnasium classes and members were permitted to bring in a non-member visitor to the Institute.

The archives of the Institute will be held in the Daonchartlann (people’s archive) in Loughlinstown, will join the records of other defunct organisations (e.g. Workingmen’s club) and will be made available for academic research. They provide very useful insights into aspects of the history of the Protestant community of the town through to the 1970s. 

The Institute has recently closed after a decline in membership, and it’s wonderfully impressive Victorian era building on Dún Laoghaire’s main street will be sold.  According to Peter Pearson, it was built of red Bridgewater brick in English garden wall bond and that the brickwork on this building is of very high quality. The main entrance is flanked by two octagonal walls and with a massive Tudor arch springing from moulded jams.  The Board and Members of the Genealogical Society of Ireland sincerely thank Les Beegan and the trustees of the Institute for this very important donation to the Society’s Archive and Research Centre.  

The picture shows a small sample from the records donated

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