History & Mission

The Franciscans have lived and worked on the south side of Dublin's river Liffey since 1232. A presence of more than seven hundred and seventy years has seen many changes. The Friars live among the people and they have been affected by many social, religious and political upheavals through the centuries.

In 1348 the Black Death swept through Dublin and among the thousands who died there were twenty-four Franciscans. During the Reformation in 1540 the Friary at Francis Street, at the site of the present church of St. Nicholas of Myra, was confiscated and the community dispersed.

Adam and Eve Church

In the following century the Friars worked secretly in the Cook Street area. At that time they said Mass in the Adam and Eve Tavern, hence the popular name of the present day Church. Following Catholic Emancipation the Friars were able to build a new church at Merchants Quay and the foundation stone was laid in 1834.

For over a century the main work of the Friars was in the church services offered to the people of Dublin. Merchants Quay was a popular place for confessions, Mass was readily available, a thriving Third Order developed and devotion to St. Anthony was cultivated. Until the 1960's Merchants Quay was one of the most popular and well-attended churches in Dublin City.

The 1960's saw profound changes in Ireland and in the Church. People began to move out of the city centre, tenements were torn down and communities dispersed to new estates in the suburbs. Following the Second Vatican Council the Church began to take a greater interest in matters of social justice. The Franciscans could no longer ignore the poverty and the social problems on their own doorstep and as a result some of the Friars became involved in justice activities. The first Simon Community was set up on the Friar's property on Wine Tavern Street in 1969. St Francis Food Centre for the poor and homeless (the Tea Rooms) was opened by the Friars the same year.

This service built on the "Tea Rooms" food centre which had been providing for Dublin's poor and homeless since 1969. In addition to the array of social services provided, the Franciscans have also provided a wide range of spiritual services to meet the needs of the parish and community.

Merchants Quay Project

The Friars at Merchants Quay became conscious of such issues in 1989 and the Merchants Quay Project offering a range of services for people affected by drug use and HIV was established. In response to a large increase in the numbers of homeless people the Failtiu Resource Centre was opened in July 1996, to cater for the daytime needs of homeless people.

In 2001, the homeless and drugs services operating at Merchants Quay were brought together under one management structure and became Merchants Quay Ireland.

In 2011, we worked with over 5,000 people who were homeless or struggling with addiction.

In 2012 we moved into the newly refurbished Riverbank Open Access Centre on Merchants Quay. This allowed us to bring all crisis services under one roof giving us the space to meet increasing demand particularly for our meal service.

Company Structure

Merchants Quay Ireland consists of two companies. The Merchants Quay Project Ltd. is a company limited by guarantee not having a share capital, registered in Dublin Ireland, with registered company number 176421. The Merchants Quay Project is also a charity with CHY number 10311. The Franciscan Social Justice Initiative Ltd. is a company limited by guarantee not having a share capital, registered in Dublin Ireland, with registered company number 280573. The Franciscan Social Justice Initiative is also a charity with CHY number 12809. Registered Offices for both companies are at 28 Winetavern St Dublin

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