Saint Finbar's Church is an Irish Catholic parish in Atlantic City, New Jersey that serves as a recurrent location in the second and third season of Boardwalk Empire. Its resident priest is Father Ed Brennan. The church is named after Finbarr or Finnbarr (Irish: Fionnbarra), the patron saint of Cork, Ireland and its bishop during the early 7th century.
Season 2[edit | edit source]
Margaret Schroeder takes his son Teddy to see Father Brennan. The priest questions Teddy about sin and confession before informing him that at age 7, which Brennan calls the age of reason, he can expect God to judge his actions. Brennan encourages Margaret to have Teddy ready to confess and also asks her to prepare her own confession. Margaret is surprised and the priest tells her that she needs to set an example for Teddy.
Days later, a row of parents and children wait beside the confessional at Saint Finbar's. Margaret and Teddy are next in line. Margaret begins her confession and admits that it is about four years since her last. She initially says she has nothing to confess but after Brennan reminds her of the rationale for confession she admits having impure thoughts about a man that she knows is bad. Brennan believes she means Nucky, asking if it is the man who provided for her family. She clarifies that it is a man she has not known long and that her family employs. ("The Age of Reason")
On July 24, 1921, Margaret prays alone in Saint Finbar's while Father Brennan collects donations from boxes in the end of the pews. He approaches her and asks if something is wrong; she relates him that her daughter Emily has been diagnosed with polio. He apologises and she tells him that she is frightened. Brennan sits down in front of her and tries to reassure her that God is with Emily. Margaret wonders if God was with Emily when she got the illness and let it happen. Brennan subtly dismisses this as a childish view of God and reminds Margaret that she came to the Church for help. Margaret says that she had nowhere else to turn and he reminds her of her recent confession regarding temptation. Margaret tries to change the subject and he says that she is asking God for help without offering something in return. She claims that she is offering devotion and he explains that devotion is an act and she must find her own way to demonstrate her devotion. His tray of coins and bills jangles as he leaves her to consider his meaning.
The next day (July 25, 1921) Margaret goes through her jewellery and selects several pieces to go in a bag. She retrieves her stash of money from its hiding place in the dresser and adds that to the bag. Margaret then goes to Brennan's house and hands him the bag, saying that it is a donation for the Church. ("Georgia Peaches")
Brennan accompanies Margaret to a medical revision in the Atlantic City Children's Hospital that confirms Emily's ability to walk witch crutches before discharging her. Brennan takes Margaret to the corridor and reassures her that God will hold her up, just as she has held up Emily. Margaret worries that she needs to support herself and Brennan tells her the parable of the spoons to illustrate that it is necessary to help others and to accept help. He tells her that her donation has been added to the fund to construct a new parish hall and that they now have enough for walls and flooring but not for the roof. Margaret offers more and Brennan claims that this was not what he meant before leaving. Margaret looks back at Emily, holding her new doll. ("Under God's Power She Flourishes")
Brennan accompanies Margaret to a meeting with Esther Randolph and notes that Margaret is active at Saint Finbar's as part of an attempt to elicit Randolph's sympathy. She is unimpressed and shoos Brennan away to talk with Margaret alone.
After watching Nucky encouraging Emily to walk beneath her window, Margaret agrees to marry him and save Nucky from sure imprisonment, which he will get if she testifies. When she announces her decision to her would-be husband she also notes her intention to do a complete confession to Brennan before he marries them. The two are in turn married at Saint Finbar's, with Owen Sleater and Katy acting as witnesses and sole guests of the ceremony.
As expected, the next day Nucky is given a mistrial for lack of evidence. But when he blatantly lies to her saying that he "cleared the air" with his main enemy, Jimmy Darmody, and he re-enlisted in the US Army, she decides to punish Nucky by giving all the land that he had put under her name for safekeeping to Saint Finbar's Church. ("To the Lost")
Season 3[edit | edit source]
Some of the millions won by Saint Finbar's thanks to the land scheme are invested into building a pediatric annex bearing Nucky and Margaret's name in Saint Theresa's Hospital, a Catholic hospital in which Margaret is also given a seat in its rulling council. The "altruistic" donation also earns Nucky the concession of the Order of Saint Gregory the Great by Pope Pius XI for his service to the Church, to be received from Bishop Norman at Saint Finbar's Church on January 9, 1923. Nucky is actually furious at Margaret for giving the land away and refuses to attend the ceremony, but Margaret continues negotiating its celebration with the priests, claiming that Nucky is actually enthusiastic, and even gets a rare audience with Norman afterwards to fulfill her own interests.
Margaret finally convinces Nucky to attend the ceremony. Once at Saint Finbar's, Nucky confesses that he doesn't remember the last time he was in church and she informs him that it was at their wedding. During the ceremony, the guilt-ridden, sleep-deprived Nucky keeps hallucinating that a young Jimmy Darmody is in the church and excuses himself out of the audience after the mass as soon as it begins. Nevertheless, Margaret successfully sets a trap for Dr. Landau, the medical director of Saint Theresa's and tricks him into asking the bishop for the establishment of a women's health clinic in the hospital as it was Margaret's aim. ("Bone for Tuna")
Appearances[edit | edit source]
|Season two appearances|
|21||Ourselves Alone||A Dangerous Maid||What Does the Bee Do?|
|Gimcrack & Bunkum||The Age of Reason||Peg of Old||Two Boats and a Lifeguard|
|Battle of the Century||Georgia Peaches||Under God's Power She Flourishes||To the Lost|
|Season three appearances|
|"Resolution"||"Spaghetti and Coffee"||"Bone for Tuna"||"Blue Bell Boy"|
|"You'd Be Surprised"||"Ging Gang Goolie"||"Sunday Best"||"The Pony"|
|"The Milkmaid's Lot"||"A Man, A Plan..."||"Two Imposters"||"Margate Sands"|