Manuscript of the Month: Reformation 01
The Monastery of All Saints (usually called All Hallows) was founded by Dermot Mac Murchadha, King of Leinster, in 1166 – it is said, as an act of penance for eloping with Dervorgilla, wife of Tiernan O’Rourke. It was an Augustinian foundation, and the monastery buildings were situated to the east of Dublin City, outside the city walls. This was a precarious location, and the monastery and its immediate lands were sacked by the O’Byrnes and O’Tooles of Wicklow on a regular basis. Nevertheless, All Hallows quickly became the wealthiest monastery in the Dublin area, as it received donations from pious benefactors of land in counties Dublin, Meath, Kildare, Louth, Tipperary and Kilkenny. In 1478, the Prior of All Hallows was appointed as Admiral of the Port of Baldoyle, a most prestigious position. At the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the surrender of the Priory and lands of All Hallows to King Henry VIII was undertaken by Prior Walter Handcock (16 Nov 1538) with (18 Nov 1538) memorandum attesting to the voluntary nature of the surrender witnessed by Symon Geoffrey, rector of Howth, Thomas Alen, gentleman, and others. (DCLA/Recorder’s Book, entry No. 12-12a). It was noted that at the time of surrender there were only four monks in All Hallows.
At the time of the revolt of Thomas FitzGerald in 1534 (‘Silken Thomas’) the Mayor and Citizens of Dublin supported the king. After suppression of the revolt, Henry VIII vested the lands of All Hallows in the Mayor and Citizens of Dublin at the annual rent of £4-4-¾d. As well as the lands already mentioned, the grant also included the religious house near the city, including church, belfry, cemetery, manors, and messuages. (DCLA/Dublin City Charter No.74). The grant of All Hallows was in recognition of the great service, labours, famine, watchings, effusion of blood, cruel wounds and lamentable slaughters which the people of Dublin recently underwent in strenuously and bravely defending the city against Thomas Fitzgerald. (CARD I, pp 33-4). The grant of the All Hallows land brought riches to the Dublin City Assembly – its holdings were multiplied and it became a wealthy landowner.
In 1592, the new University of Dublin (Trinity College) was founded by royal charter issued by Elizabeth I. Its stated aim was to promote the new religion of Protestantism. It proved difficult to find a site for the new university until the Dublin City Assembly intervened and donated the immediate monastic buildings ‘iuxta Dublin’ – near Dublin – which ever since has been the address of Trinity College Dublin.