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Church of Ireland Notes from ‘The Irish Times’

Commemorating Closed Churches

Part of the rich tapestry of the Church of Ireland’s heritage is the subject of church buildings that have been closed. Closures can happen for many reasons, including population change and administrative reorganization. The RCB Library’s Archive of the Month looks at some church buildings that are either no longer in existence or no longer function as churches. Drawing on the rich resources of the Church of Ireland Gazette digital archive and other materials in the Library, the piece has been written by local historian Sylvia Turner.

She briefly charts the history of churches in the Church of Ireland, noting that by 1832 ‘there were almost 1,300 Church of Ireland churches, administered within the diocesan structures of some 32 dioceses. Today, the Church has 11 united diocesan centres reflecting the significant reduction in Church of Ireland membership’. The article focuses on 11 specific examples throughout the island of Ireland, highlighting reports in the Gazette, as well as some beautiful architectural drawings where relevant.

The 11 churches featured are from Cos Armagh, Monaghan, Antrim, Derry, Down, Roscommon, Limerick, Meath, Dublin, Waterford and Cork.

As Sylvia notes, this small survey ‘identifies five churches still standing in various states of disrepair, four repurposed churches and two churches that have been demolished. Their congregations, always the minority of the population, were decimated by waves of famine and emigration, with the break–up of the Anglo–Irish estates reducing them further’. This Archive of the Month is a testament to those churches, and the congregations who worshipped there.  Background work by the Library’s Assistant Librarian, Bryan Whelan, provides links from the text to all the parish collections that document each of the featured buildings in the Library’s custody.

Today (Saturday) the Bishop of Cork, Cloyne & Ross, Dr Paul Colton, will preside at a Diocesan Vigil of Prayer for Vacant Parishes/Chaplaincies and Vocations in St Colman’s cathedral, Cloyne.

Tomorrow (Sunday) at 2.15pm on the RTÉ News Channel the Revd John Tanner, will lead a service of  worship in Tullow parish church, Carrickmines, Dublin 18.

After twelve years of ministry at St John’s church, Sandymount, the Revd Dr Paul Barlow has announced his retirement.  He will celebrate the Eucharist for the last time at St John’s tomorrow (Sunday) at 11am.  The Trustees of St John’s have appointed the Revd Robert Jones to succeed him as Chaplain. Mr Jones has been Rector of Kiltegan in the Diocese of Leighlin since 2018.

The 70th anniversary of the sinking of the MV Princess Victoria in the mouth of Belfast Lough with the loss of 135 souls will be commemorated at a special service in St Anne’s cathedral, Belfast, tomorrow (Sunday) at 3.30pm when the Dean of Belfast, the Very Revd Stephen Forde, will preach.

At 5pm, the new Bishop of Cashel, Ferns & Ossory, the Rt Revd Adrian Wilkinson, will be enthroned enthroned St Edan’s cathedral, Ferns,  where the Dean is Dr Paul Mooney.

In Kildare Cathedral there will be a St Brigid’s Tide Patronal Festival Sung Eucharist tomorrow (Sunday) at 3.30pm while on St Brigid’s Day, which falls next Wednesday, there will be a Said Eucharist in the Cathedral at 11am followed by a Pause for Peace at midday. The Cathedral will be open for visitors –Monday 30 January – Monday 6 February, 11.00am – 4.00pm (except Sunday, 5 February).

Friday was Holocaust Memorial Day. To mark this a conversation between the Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Revd John McDowell, and Shirley Lennon, of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, in videos is available here.

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