ST. LUKE’S 300

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View of roofless interior of St. Luke’s today, looking towards east chancel apse and Pilaster load detail of classically inspired east chancel apse showing current derelict condition

Conservation and Reuse of the Church and Graveyard at St. Luke’s, The Coombe

On 8th October 1716 the church of St. Luke’s was consecrated at a service by Archbishop Edward Synge.  It closed as place on worship on 19th September 1975 and was left ruinous after a disastrous fire in 1986. Now, on the 300th anniversary of the opening of the church its future will be once again secured. Works will soon begin to conserve the church ruin and adapt it to form offices. In early 2017 work will commence on the recovery of the graveyard and the creation of a new city pocket park.



In 2005 Dublin City Council published the St. Luke’s Conservation Plan under the auspices of the Dublin City Heritage Plan which was part-funded by the Heritage Council. The context for commissioning the conservation plan arose from Dublin City Council’s desire to establish an agreed and appropriate re-use for the derelict Church and graveyard, while retaining its significance and enhancing its eroded setting. Following international guidelines (Burra Charter) the conservation plan identified the significance of the church and graveyard and put in place policies and recommendations aimed at safeguarding or enhancing the future of this historic former church and graveyard.


Conservation and Reuse of Saint Luke’s Church

In 2006, as part of the implementation of the conservation plan, Dublin City Council sought, through public tender, expressions of interest for the conservation and reuse of the church.  The St. Luke’s Partnership’s successful was deemed the successful bidder of this competitive process. Their proposal for the conservation and re-use of the church building demonstrated the best approach towards the conservation and adaptation to a new use of the historic church building and its crypt. A section 183 (see attached) was approved by Council 3rd July 2006. Planning Permission was granted for the conservation and adaptive reuse of the church in 2008 (Ref: 6817/07). The planning permission was later extended to May 2018.


Graveyard Improvement Scheme / City Pocket Park

In tandem with the proposals for the conservation and reuse of the church Dublin City Council initiated a graveyard improvement scheme which sought to recover the character of the graveyard and resolve, through a considered design process, the presentation and access of the graveyard addressing St. Luke’s Avenue (the Coombe By-pass). Again the conservation plan guided the proposals for the recovery and enhancement of the graveyards. The scheme creates a new urban pocket park to accessible from St. Luke’s Avenue and a restoration of the graveyard character to the south, with controlled access from Newmarket Square. Part VIII approval for the scheme was granted in 2007 (6148/07).


Programme for completion

The approved planning scheme by St Luke’s Partnership and the Part VIII graveyard conservation scheme by Dublin City Council both reached an advanced stage of design until 2009 when both projects were paused due to the global economic crisis. With an upsurge in economic activity the project for the adaptive reuse of the church and the conservation of the graveyard and creation of a new city pocket park has been revived.


Part VIII graveyard conservation scheme by Dublin City Council:

 Dublin City Council will commence the graveyard improvement scheme and creation of a small public city park in early 2017 with a phased implementation as follows:

  • South Graveyard commences February 2017—completion May 2017
  • North Graveyard (Pocket Park) commences May 2017– completion September 2017
  • Park opens to the public in October 2017


The approved planning scheme for the former Church by St Luke’s Partnership:

Commencement with enabling works in October 2016 with a 52 week works programme. Completion in October 2017.


St. Luke’s Church – Conservation and Adaptive Reuse

At the end of September 2016 St Luke’s Partnership are commencing enabling works for the conservation and adaptive reuse of the ruin of St. Luke’s church as office accommodation on three levels. The conservation strategy for the works to the church is informed by the following principles: minimum intervention to the historic structure, reversibility of the works; repair rather than replace; honesty of repair; compatibility and sensitivity of intervention.

The conservation works will include: the retention where possible of existing internal wall plaster; repairing and remaking missing elements of the Italianate chancel plasterwork; repairs to the external Calp limestone walls; repairs to the granite window and door surrounds, and eaves/gable capping stones; repairs to the existing slate roof to the chancel and the removal of the late 19th century porch concealing the original granite doorcase.

The newly inserted office floors will be suspended within the existing void of the church for architectural, conservation and structural reasons. This new intervention:

  • separates what is new (the suspended floors) from the original structure making a clear distinction between what is new and what is old.
  • makes minimum contact with the original structure and is fully reversible, in keeping with best conservation practice.
  • Creates a wide full height void between the newly inserted office floors at the altar end, which allows the original volume of the former church to be appreciated by visitors.

The new works include:

  • A new steel roof structure and zinc roof covering with roof lights
  • Two mezzanine floors suspended from the new roof structure
  • New contemporary windows and doors in the existing openings
  • A new single-storey extension on the footprint of the vestry ruins
  • Innovate sustainability measures to reduce energy use


Part VIII works for the Creation of a Small Urban Park to the North Graveyard and Restoration of the South Graveyard

Under the Planning and Development Act 2000 & Planning and Development Regulations 2001 (Part 8 ref: 6148-07) approval was obtained for the recovery of the church grounds and the creation of a new publically accessible pocket park. Two distinct design approaches to the two graveyards (north and south) have been devised which mitigate disturbance to burials and archaeology and enhance the ecology of the site. All works have been informed from the outset by the St. Luke’s Conservation Plan and the findings of licensed archaeological testing.


The North Graveyard (the Pocket Park)

  • To the North, a new, public city park will be created. This will include public seating throughout the park  and new planting involving the careful positioning of three large specimen trees and linear plantings to frame and enclose the church; and, a new controlled pedestrian connection from north to south, all of which is intended to recover the setting for St. Luke’s.
  • A new boundary wall enclosing the north graveyard/park from the street will be formed from a combination of stone and polished concrete, which drops to incorporate a simple transparent metal railing. Sliding metal gates will be incorporated within the boundary wall, toward the northwest corner of the site, which can be closed in the evening to manage access and ensure security. Within this boundary, a combination of ramps and steps will provide access to the park.
  • The alignment and setting of the enclosure, access ramp and steps and, ground levels have been carefully designed to avoid disturbance of the existing burials.


The South Graveyard

  • The south graveyard will be recovered from dereliction and made accessible through managed access. A layered approach to the landscape design, in which the existing archaeological (burials and grave markers) and ecological features (Hawthorn and Holly trees) are retained, guides the design of the new interventions.


  • The existing archaeology and ecological features will be presented within areas of new planting, around which pathways will ensure protection of the archaeology while providing access throughout.


  • The final layer consists of a series of ecological planting zones, which will be available as a biodiversity education resource and amenity for neighbouring schools.


  • A series of pathways will wind through the graveyard providing access to the various zones of the graveyard and to the building.
Available to Download

Part 8 Design Proposals and Impact Report Nov 2007

St. Luke's 300 Presentation