St. Audoen’s Church prospered during the medieval period, so much so that in 1430 the Guild of St Anne was established in the parish. The guild had many wealthy patrons, and they maintained five altars in St Audoen’s, mainly concentrated at the southern end of the aisle. When the church was severely damaged by a gunpowder explosion at Wood Quay in 1597, it was the Guild of St Anne who donated the funds to pay for the reconstruction and repairs.
The church is also home to the private chapel of Sir Rowland FitzEustace. He was also known as Lord Portlester, and was appointed Lord Chancellor of Ireland by King Edward IV in 1474. He had a colourful life, but fell out of royal favour with King Henry VII when FitzEustace took part in the coronation of the pretender Lambert Simnel. Today you can visit the beautiful memorial to Sir Rowland and his wife Margaret in his private chapel at St Audoen’s.
Although St Audoen’s largely survived the full effects of the Reformation in the middle of the 16th century, it began to fall into disrepair, and by 1630 it was declared to be in “a decrepit state”. Efforts were made to repair the roof and structural pillars of the church, though funds were low and the work could not reverse the ravages of time. In 1673 an order was made to remove the tombs and tombstones from the church ‘to preserve the living from being injured by the dead’. By 1825 the church was in a completely ruinous state, parts of the church were unroofed to salvage the materials like lead causing many of the old tombs were damaged by weathering.
However in 1866, an architect Thomas Drew, began to inform people of the historical and architectural importance of St Audoen’s, and again efforts were made to preserve the site. In the 1980s a series of restoration works on the tower and bells were conducted and St. Annes chapel was converted to a visitor reception area. Extensive excavations of the site were carried out in the 1990s and they revealed a wealth of information about the site. Today St Audoen’s is an OPW heritage site and is a wonderful place to visit immerse yourself in the story of medieval Dublin.