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Church of Ireland Notes from ‘The Irish Times’

New Source for Local History

One of the things that most people, apparently, know about the parish records of the Church of Ireland is that they were destroyed in the fire in the Four Courts in 1922. This is both a simplification and an exaggeration but contains a sufficient kernel of truth to make the idea credible. It is true that many records were lost in the 1922 fire but equally many were not in the Four Courts and so survived in local custody. Also, of those that were destroyed, much more than at first believed has survived in copy form.

A case in point is the parish of Killinane in Co. Galway. The registers of baptisms, marriages and burials were lost in 1922 but the other records, which had remained in the parish, survived. Unusually, this collection includes a ‘register’ or memorandum book complied by the Revd William O’Grady who was rector from 1836 until 1859, and some of his successors. The volume includes details of baptisms, marriages and burials, the records of which had been lost in 1922, But that is not all. There are also notes on parishioners, details of the glebe house and those who lived and worked there, information on foundlings and deserted children, lists of converts, information on police and constabulary, and on emigrants.

William O’Grady was the fourth son of Standish O’Grady, 1st Viscount Guillamore of Cahirguillamore, Co. Limerick. After Eton and TCD, he was, like many younger sons of titled families, ordained in the Church of Ireland.  During the Great Famine he was  diligent and outspoken in seeking relief for the local population. The Kilchreest Famine Relief Committee was established in July 1846, with Mr O’Grady as secretary of a committee which was representative of both Protestants and Catholics.

By Irish standards, at least, this is remarkable source for the study of local history. Happily it has been digitized by the RCB Library and it is the focus for the Library’s latest on–line presentation. This has been prepared by Gerry Kearney, a resident of Oranmore, whose interest in the local Taylor family led him to the ‘register’ which informed part of his book, Tracing the Taylor Families of Kilchreest, Co. Galway, c.1658–2020. Protestant, Catholic, Nationalist. The book is available on–line at www.kennys.ie.

St Fin Barre’s cathedral, Cork, is hosting a series of lunchtime organ recitals each Friday in August at 1.10pm. This is the third year in which the cathedral has run such a series, and the second year in which it will be held under the strict health guidelines which churches are following. The capacity is limited to 50 people, seating is by social distancing, and masks are requireThe first recital was given last Friday by Andrew Johnstone, Assistant Director of Music at St Bartholomew’s church, Dublin, and next Friday Professor Gerard Gillen, Titular Organist Emeritus at St Mary’s Pro–Cathedral, Dublin, will play music by Louis Vierne, Naji Hakim’s Mariales and the Flor Peeters Toccata, Fugue and Hymn on ‘Ave maris stella’. David Adams, one of Ireland leading organ tutors and Professor at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, will give the third recital on 20 August and Robbie Carroll, Assistant Director of Music at St Fin Barre’swill conclude the series on 27 August.

In St Patrick’s cathedral, Dublin, recitals are continuing every Friday at 5.00 p.m. until the end of August. The cathedral organists, David Leigh and Stuart Nicholson, will be giving an organ recital online on the Willis organ. Further details at www.stpatrickscathedral.ie/live_at_five

Church of Ireland Notes

Published in the Saturday edition of The Irish Times

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