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Church of Ireland Notes from ‘The Irish Times’

Saturday 14 July 2012

St Werburgh’s Church Restored & Reopened
St Werburgh’s parish church, close by Dublin Castle and Christ Church cathedral, is now open to the public on a regular basis following a major restoration programme which began in 2010. The walls have been re–pointed and the entire structure made watertight, conservation work has been carried out on the windows and much of the original glass retained, and the vaulted ceiling has been restored.

St Werburgh’s was among the earliest Anglo–Norman parish churches to be created inside the city walls and is first mentioned in a letter of Pope Alexander III in 1179. Nothing of the original church, which was destroyed by fire in 1301, remains but a sense of the vibrancy of the late medieval parish and the richness of its liturgical life can be gained from Canon Adrian Empey’s edition of the proctors’ accounts of St Werburgh’s which was published by Four Courts Press in 2009. A new church was built in 1716, to the designs of Thomas Burgh but this was largely destroyed by fire in 1754. The present interior dates from 1759 and St Werburgh’s is considered the finest classical church in Dublin, although the loss of its tower and spire, taken down in 1810, has greatly diminished the impact of the west elevation.

The church has many historic associations. It was for a time the Chapel Royal and the place of worship of the Lord Lieutenant, Jonathan Swift was baptised in St Werburgh’s and Lord Edward Fitzgerald is buried in the crypt. The parish registers have been digitized and are available on the free government website www.irishgenealogy.ie while the Revd S.C. Hughes’ history of St Werburgh’s, published in 1889, is a fund of information on the parish and its people.

The parish is now part of the Christ Church cathedral group of parishes and is served by the vicar, the Ven. David Pierpoint, and his curate the Revd David McDonnell.

St Werburgh’s is now open from Tuesday to Saturday from 10 am to 5pm, and with St Michan’s, St Audoen’s and St Ann’s, together with Christ Church and St Patrick’s cathedrals, offers the prospect of a richly informative city centre experience of the history and development of the Church of Ireland in Dublin..

Today (Saturday) the first Cork Huguenot Day will be held at the Masonic Hall, Tuckey Street. The day will begin at 10.30am with talks by Dr Alicia St Leger, author of Silver, Sails & Silk. Huguenots in Cork, 1685–1850, on aspects of the Cork Huguenot heritage, and Dr David Butler on family history. A guided tour of the Masonic Hall will follow with emphasis on the items of Huguenot heritage which are displayed there. After lunch there will be a walking tour of sites of Huguenot interest including Christ Church on South Main Street and the French Burial Ground in French Church Street.

On Wednesday the lunchtime recital in St Mary’s cathedral, Limerick, will be given by Daniel Battle who will play organ music by Sibelius and Rossini and in the evening in Calary parish church, Co. Wicklow, the last in the current ‘Music in Calary’ series will be a concert with Finghin (piano), Elizabeth Cooney (violin) and Carol Mc Gonnell (clarinet). In the afternoon the Friends of St Patrick’s cathedral, Dublin, will visit the George Bernard Shaw House.

The Choir of St Polycarp’s church, Finaghy, Belfast, will sing the services in St Patrick’s cathedral on Thursday and Friday and on the following Sunday.

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