Celebrated dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral Victor Griffin dies

Tributes stress Christian convictions and desire for pluralist society North and South

The death has taken place of the Very Reverend Victor Griffin, former dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. Dean Griffin died in the early hours of Wednesday in Limavady, Co Derry, where he had been living in retirement.

Dean Griffin was involved with the anti-apartheid movement and protested at Lansdowne Road against a visiting Springboks rugby team. He also helped to organise the peace train to Northern Ireland. He was also part of the Dublin Crisis Conference when Dublin Corporation – now Dublin City Council – planned “to resettle the Liberties with large highways, with large office blocks and large car parks: the unholy trinity”. He was opposed to the idea, saying “it would all end in tears”. He later recalled that it did.

Dean Griffin was the author of a number of books including Anglican and Irish: What We Believe (1976), Mark of Protest (1993), Enough Religion to Make Us Hate (2002) and A Short Catechism of basic Church Teaching (2007).

Born in Carnew, Co Wicklow in 1924, Dean Griffin was educated at Kilkenny College and Trinity College Dublin. He was ordained in 1948 for curacy at St Augustine’s in Derry and served a second curacy at Christ Church in the city where he became rector in 1957. In 1968, he was appointed dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral. He retired in 1991.


Dean Griffin was married to Daphne Mitchell, a teacher who died of multiple sclerosis in 1998. The couple had twin sons, Kevin and Timothy, born in 1959, both of whom joined the Garda.

Courageous leadership

William Morton, current Dean of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, said Dean Griffin would long be remembered “as the most faithful and dedicated priest of the cathedral”, especially for his “courageous and enterprising leadership as dean of Saint Patrick’s”.

Dean Morton said he was a was a man who spoke fearlessly with the strongest Christian conviction to a more inclusive and pluralist society, both North and South. Dean Morton extended the cathedral’s sympathy to Dean Griffin’s family and wider circle.”

Archbishop of Dublin Dr Michael Jackson said he learned of the former dean’s death with sadness and regret. “While dean of St Patrick’s his courage, friendliness and preaching were an inspiration to many. He remained fearless in voicing an open-hearted Anglicanism through the worship and witness of the Church of Ireland for all the people of Ireland,” he said.

“Equally at home in both parts of Ireland, his passing will evoke memories of his conviction and commitment to the causes of people ordinary and extraordinary in church and State. Our prayers are with his family in these times.”

His remains will be removed to Christ Church Limavady at 4pm on Sunday, January 15th. The funeral service will take place at 11am on Monday, January 16th. Afterwards he will be brought to the crematorium in Belfast for 4pm.

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist