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Disestablishment 150

Commemorative stamp features St Fin Barre’s Cathedral window

An Post have 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.

The Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Michael Jackson, joined the Bishop of Cork, Dr Paul Colton and the Dean of Cork, the Very Revd Nigel Dunne, in the Cathedral before Christmas for a ‘photo launch’ which was officially announced by An Post last Thursday, 7th January.

The Dean of Cork, the Very Reverend Nigel Dunne, and the Bishop of Cork, Dr Paul Colton, discuss the new stamp with the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Michael Jackson, during his visit to Cork in December 2020. Photograph: Daragh McSweeney/Provision
The Dean of Cork, the Very Reverend Nigel Dunne, and the Bishop of Cork, Dr Paul Colton, discuss the new stamp with the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Michael Jackson, during his visit to Cork in December 2020. Photograph: Daragh McSweeney/Provision

As a memento of this significant occasion, Bishop Colton is making a gift of the first day cover to each member of the clergy, each reader and each licensed or commissioned lay church worker in the Diocese.

The Church of Ireland was officially disestablished on 1st January 1871 ending its statutory ties with the Church of England and the State.  Disestablishment was part of British Prime Minister William Gladstone’s attempts to deal with ‘the Irish question’ and ended the status of the Church of Ireland as a ‘state church’.  It was seen by many in the Church of Ireland at the time as a disaster, not least because with Disestablishment came disendowment, meaning that the Church had to now fund itself independent of state support.

The 150th Anniversary of the consecration of the Cathedral, currently being celebrated, coincided with this major change in the Church of Ireland and is testimony to the sheer determination of the people of Cork to bring the building of the Cathedral to completion.

The Dean of Cork, the Very Revd Nigel Dunne, said: “I am delighted that An Post chose one of our windows to put on the new stamp and an image of the Cathedral itself on the collectors pack, not least because this is an ‘all–island’ commemoration and I’m sure there are many other images that could have been chosen.

“It is particularly fitting that this image was chosen since the 150th anniversary of the consecration of the Cathedral coincides with that of Disestablishment and reminds us that even in times of great upheaval and distress, great things can still be achieved by people of faith and hope.”

Bishop Paul Colton said: “The building of St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, a confident enterprise by the people of Cork, funded by voluntary subscription, is still an icon of the Disestablishment period in the Church of Ireland. In Cork, Cloyne and Ross we are honoured that An Post chose this part of the creation window in the Cathedral, which is also celebrating its sesquicentenary this year, to represent the 150th anniversary of Disestablishment.

“In thanking all who had involvement in this initiative, I wish to pay a particular tribute to the Very Reverend Nigel Dunne, Dean of Cork, who followed this up and worked with this project over an extended period of time to bring it to fruition.”

With thanks to Daragh McSweeney of Provision for photography