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Church of Ireland Notes from ‘The Irish Times’

Remembering 1922

One hundred years ago on 30 June 1922 an explosion in the Treasury building of the Public Record Office of Ireland destroyed much of the nation’s archival wealth. From ‘Ardfeenish’ – her home at 21 Upper Mount Street, Dublin – Rosamond Emily Stephen (1868–1951), later to become the founding benefactor of the RCB Library, witnessed the impact and recorded the events of that fateful day in her personal ‘Record’. ‘At twenty minutes to one by these clocks … there came a most tremendous explosion. I was typing in my vestibule but it was so loud that I went into my room to look at the clock … All the people in the street seemed to be at their doors looking into Merrion Square…’.

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the destruction of the PROI, the RCB Library has commissioned historian Dr Ian d’Alton to produce a commemorative piece entitled ‘Rosamond Stephen’s Civil War’, illustrated with extracts from her family archive.  It may be viewed here. In Dr d’Alton’s view there are ‘few enough chronicles of the year that are written with such quality and interest, describing Stephen as an ‘astute commentator’, who deserves fuller treatment.

The ‘Record’ is principally a typewritten set of copy letters (to both her sisters and her mother in England) and her own journal entries that cover the years from 1902 to 1923.  Rosamond claimed in 1922 that ‘My experience of life is all reduced to writing, and future generations will enjoy ferreting it out.’  In analysing the 1922 entries, some 100 years later d’Alton describes it a ‘most valuable possession’ – transferred by Stephen herself to the RCB Library before her death in 1951.

2022 is also significant because it marks the 90th anniversary of the RCB Library, which opened at headquarters of the RCB in 1932, located then at 52 St Stephen’s Green. Approximately 5,000 printed books donated by Stephen formed the nucleus of the original Library collection.


Although initially conceived as a lending library of printed materials, the RCB Library soon took on important record–keeping functions in response to the loss of the PROI, and today many of the Church’ records  are now in the Library’s safekeeping – records of parishes dioceses, cathedrals, architectural drawings, the administrative records of the RCB and General Synod and many of manuscripts relating to the Church’s people, buildings and activities, from medieval times to the present.

The preacher at tomorrow’s 11am Sung Eucharist in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, will be the editor of the Church of Ireland journal, Search, the Revd Dr Virginia Kennerley. The Friends of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, Festival Evensong will be held at 3.15pm in the cathedral where the preacher will be the Dean of Cork, the Very Revd Nigel Dunne.

On Friday, at 1.10pm Summer Music in Sandford continues on Sandford parish church, Ranelagh, where Aine Mulvey (mezzo–soprano) and Elizabeth Hilliard (piano) will perform ‘Songs from Connacht’ – art songs by Herbert Hughes set to poetry by Padraic Colum.

The second concert of the 2022 Music in Calary series will be at 8pm on Friday in Calary Church when the performers will be Maria Ryan and Jane Hackett (violins), Beth McNinch (viola), Katie Tertell and Annette Cleary (cellos) from Musici Ireland together with Eamonn Sweeney (guitar). Their programme will include works by Boccherini, Vivaldi and Rodrigo. Tickets will be €18 and €15 for concessions. To book places for this concert, please email Derek Neilson at derekneilson@eircom.net or derekneilson11@gmail.com or ring John on (01) 281 8146.

Church of Ireland Notes

Published in the Saturday edition of The Irish Times


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