Browne's first duty in Dublin had been to proclaim the Act of Supremacy (i.e., that Henry VIII was the sole head of the Church in his kingdom), and force it through the Irish Parliament.
The progressive suppression of the monasteries then followed, including the Augustinian Priory in Dublin.
The confiscated Augustinian Priory was in 1540 sold to Richard Nangle, the former Prior there who had become an Anglican suffragan bishop of Dublin.
The land was subdivided in the centuries that followed, and was used for many purposes.
A building erected there in 1836 was later purchased by the Catholic University of Ireland. It was then used as a medical school.
Between 1540 and 1840, Augustinians served in Dublin in spite of governmental restrictions, enjoying no sense of security.
Illegally using small chapels hidden in back streets and themselves living in relative secrecy, they risked imprisonment or expulsion during times of particular anti-clerical purges.
In 1685 it is known that the Augustinian chapel in Hammond Lane, off Arran Quay, was discovered and demolished. It lay outside the confines of Dublin City.
It seems that their next venue was a warehouse in John’s Lane, proximate to the present Augustinian church and priory (behind which is the present thoroughfare named John’s Lane).
Augustinian ministry in Dublin between 1540 and 1840 focussed successively on these two venues.
In the meantime, Augustinians in Dublin were living under any guise that allowed them to escape detection.
An address to parliament in 1703 reported that "regulars (i.e., members of religious orders) concealed themselves under the guise of physicians and other professions. They easily obtain leave to teach as schoolmen."
One ingenious Augustinian in Dublin was the colourful character, Edmund Byrne O.S.A.. By day he was disguised as a soldier and known as the swashbuckling 'Colonel Byrne,' and by night he was a priest offering Mass and the sacraments.
An official Anti-Popery Report of 1731 reported that there were three Mass-houses or Popish chapels in the vicinity of John’s Lane, one supplied by eight “fryars Augustines” (i.e. Augustinian friars).
(Continued on the next page.)
The tower of the Augustinian Church of St Augustine and St John, St John's Lane (actually fronting Thomas Street), Dublin.