In time the 1882 church became too small for the fast increasing population, and in the early 1970s it was extended and adapted to the new liturgical reforms. Central Tallaght became a parish in September 1972, but soon had to set about building three more churches: St Dominic’s (1975), St Aengus’s (1975) and St Martin’s (1976), each with its own resident Dominican team. Finally, St Mary’s and its three daughter churches were divided into four parishes in 1985.
In the foyer of the Retreat House is a painting by Turlough O’Donnell (2007), depicting the renowned ‘Maelruan’s Tree’ in the Priory garden. Walnut trees were introduced into Ireland in 1760, and Maelruan’s must have been one of the earliest. It was struck by lightning in 1797 and split into several parts. Happily it survived, the various parts took root, and it still produces an annual crop of walnuts. To generations of Dominicans, and to our visitors, it is synonymous with Tallaght, surviving from another world and reaching out to the unknown future. Its long life-story puts us in mind of the ancient monastery that flourished here, and symbolises “the hope that is not deceptive.” The story is by no means ended. Maelruan’s Tree is an image of the immense development that is modern Tallaght. It is a story of hope, of resilience in the face of difficulties, of fecundity beyond reckoning. Tallaght is still a place where many – residents and visitors alike – follow the ancient monastic prescription, quaerere Deum: to seek God.
(This text is taken from www.dominicans.ie, 2010)