Church of Ireland Notes

This week’s Church of Ireland notes have been published in The Irish Times.

New Source for History of Limerick Cathedral

This year St Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick, has marked the 850th year since its foundation, and to conclude a year of anniversary celebrations the RCB Library has published online a digital copy of a 19th–century source documenting the renovation of the cathedral, together with a detailed analysis of its content. The volume came up for sale a year ago, and with local financial support from the Bishop, diocese and cathedral the Library was able to purchase it.

The volume is a scrapbook of original minutes, press–cuttings, subscription lists and other memorabilia relating to conservation and rebuilding works that took place in the cathedral between 1859 and 1863. It also includes articles, reports, and accounts of funds of the renovations up to and including 1874. It was assembled by John Armour Haydn, whose name and presumed ownership appears on the front cover of the book.

There are two possible creators of the volume – a father and a son. Haydn Sr. (1845–1920) was a canon and dignitary of St Mary’s. It is probable that he compiled the text to record how his predecessors had acquired funds and raised awareness of the structure. Alternatively, the name on the cover could also refer to his son, John Armour Haydn Jr. (1881–1957), a secretary of the cathedral vestry from at least the 1930s. Haydn Jr. commissioned a model of St Mary’s which is still on display at the cathedral. Like his father, Haydn Jr. was passionate about the history of St Mary’s and wrote a guidebook for visitors to the cathedral in 1950, as well as a booklet on the 15th–century misericords of St Mary’s.

Whichever Haydn was responsible, as the online exhibition accompanying the digitzed copy makes clear, the volume is a Haydn creation of materials dating from the time of restoration in 1859–1863, with some additional materials up to 1874. Whilst perhaps added to the volume later, these are contemporary to the renovation work and include the original resolutions of the committee and trustees who oversaw the works. It thus makes a significant contribution to understanding the cathedral’s architectural history.

In Nenagh, the Christmas Tree Festival continues today (Saturday) and concludes tomorrow (Sunday) with a carol service at 3.30pm. This has become an integral part of the seasonal celebrations in the area with individuals, organisations and businesses decorating trees for display in St Mary’s Church. There are also afternoon teas, sales of seasonal local produce, short concerts, children’s activities, and a Prayer Tree for some quiet contemplation. In addition to parish funds, this initiative will support Focus Ireland.

In St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, tomorrow (Sunday) there will be a service of Carols for All at 3.15 while at 8pm in St Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick, there will be Carols for the City.

On Monday evening in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, there will be a Service of Nine Lessons and Carols at 8pm.

A somewhat different seasonal service will be held on Tuesday evening at 7.30pm when Christ Church will host a Quiet Christmas – a Taizé Eucharist with prayers for wholeness and healing. This is a recognition that the days leading up to Christmas can be difficult for many people. This reflective service seeks to provide a peaceful space in which to rest in the Christmas message.

On Wednesday the Annual Christmas Sit Out by the Ven Brian Harper, Rector of Magheracross, and the Revd John Beacom, Minister of Ballinamallard Methodist Church, will begin outside Magheracross parish church at 8am.

To visit the ‘Religion & Beliefs’ section of The Irish Times, click here.

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