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Disestablishment 150

Disestablishment 150

Disestablishment has seen a renewed focus on ourselves as a developing and evolving spiritual community. It has enabled the Church to find afresh its independence and mission. It has conferred freedom for laity and clergy to develop a synodical way of life and understanding and to engage with confidence with those of other traditions.Recognising these positives, we commemorated the 150th anniversary through a number of initiatives entitled ‘Free to shape our future’.

The Church of Ireland Youth Forum was the first event of the 2019 commemorations marking the 150th anniversary of Disestablishment. The official launch of the National Programme was at the opening commemorative National Service in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, on 23rd November 2019 with the Archbishop of Canterbury as preacher.  

Other events have included a colloquium in the Church of Ireland Theological Institute on 30th November 2019, architectural walking tours incorporating the key sites in Dublin during Heritage Week 2019, and a symposium at the Royal Irish Academy on 27th February 2020. In January 2021, An Post launched a new stamp commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the Disestablishment of the Church of Ireland which came into force on 1st January 1871. The ‘N’ rate stamp, designed by Vermillion Design in Dublin, is an image of the Sun, Moon and Stars taken from one of the panels in the west rose window of St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork. There has also been a small exhibition within the Representative Church Body Library.

Heritage Week 2021’s theme was Open the Door to Heritage and the short documentary: Disestablishment 150: A Virtual Tour opened the door to some of the Church of Ireland’s iconic built heritage associated with Disestablishment. See here:


There are liturgical resources available to the Church including a Disestablishment Prayer, Disestablishment Service of the Word, and Disestablishment Service of Holy Communion, for use in dioceses with episcopal permission as appropriate.

We sought to build up a country–wide programme. To this end, we encouraged individual dioceses to contribute initiatives to the National Programme by sending their initiatives for advertisement on the National Programme events page to Disestablishment 150 Organiser and Coordinator Caoimhe Leppard. This enabled everyone to see what was happening and to attend and otherwise participate as much as they possibly could. 

While these initiatives were organised to commemorate Disestablishment as a national programme, each diocese was encouraged, should its Bishop wish it to do so, to organise events locally whether in a diocesan cathedral or elsewhere and there were wonderful contributions across the Church of Ireland.

As the National Programme for Disestablishment 150 drew to a close, Caoimhe Leppard met with the Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Reverend Dr Michael Jackson, who championed this three–year programme from the beginning, to reflect on its defining highlights and this conversation can be viewed here: 


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