The Mariners Project

Julie’s grandfather, Canon George Chamberlain, was the Rector of the Mariners' Church in Dun Laoghaire or Kingstown (as it was known before Ireland became independent from Great Britain), from 1925 until 1965. George, his wife Elsie (nee Purefoy) and their children Jean, Harry and Elizabeth, lived in the rectory in Adelaide Street next door to the church. When Julie was a child in New Zealand, Elizabeth would tell her stories about Kingstown, the Mariners’ Church, the parishioners and the people of the town. Elizabeth loved Dun Laoghaire and was extremely homesick. She lived in New Zealand for 17 years and never stopped wanting to return home.

However the Dun Laoghaire in which Julie lives now is very different from the Kingstown in which her mother grew up. In the 1920s and 30s, Kingstown had a large Church of Ireland population. Many of the shops and businesses which lined George’s Street, the town’s main street, were owned, run and staffed by Protestants. The town’s streets and squares were filled with Protestant families. Now, most of these people have gone. But why and where to?

Julie decided to find out. She searched the marriage and baptismal registers of the Mariners’ Church from the years 1900 to 1939. She was looking for couples who had married in the church and then had their children baptised in the church too. There are forty-eight such couples. They are what Julie calls her “Mariners’ Families”. Their backgrounds are many and varied. Solicitors, labourers, civil servants, watchmakers, serving soldiers and sailors of the British Forces, motor mechanics, tram drivers, painters, clerks, hotel proprietors, doctors, carpenters, post office sorters, architects, building contractors, salesmen, a constable in the Dublin Metropolitan Police, auctioneers, journalists. A broad spectrum of Dublin life.

So, the mystery is: where are they now?

Mariners' Church, Dun Laoighaire, Co. Dublin

family pic
Jean, Elizabeth and Harry Chamberlain

chamberlin Family

Canon George Chamberlain with his wife Elsie and children, Jean
Harry and Elizabeth