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Opening of Sam Maguire Community Bells Project

On Saturday next, at 9th September in the St Mary’s Church of Ireland Church, Dunmanway, County Cork the completion of a unique community project will be celebrated in the presence the Mayor of Cork County, the two Bishops of Cork, the President of the GAA as well as local representatives, community organisations, local volunteers, leaders and clergy.

The eight bells, which were named and dedicated by Bishop Paul Colton at ceremony last June to the memory of Sam Maguire, a member of the Parish 100 years ago, and whose name is given to the cup awarded each year to the winners of the All–Ireland Football Championship, have now been installed in the bell tower. The project will be officially opened following a Service of Thanksgiving at which Bishop Paul Colton will be joined by Bishop John Buckley, and afterwards the President of the GAA (which has co–funded the project) will give an oration at the grave of Sam Maguire in the churchyard. Sam Maguire died 90 years ago this year.

Bishop Colton’s sermon will refer to the project as a model, from here in the heart of West Cork, of how he hopes the coming centenary years of commemoration of the complicated and many–faceted history of the War of Independence and Civil War will be observed.

In 2016, following centenary celebrations of the 1916 Rising, the Rector of the Parish, the Reverend Cliff Jeffers, together with the people of the Parish began to look at ways to commemorate Sam Maguire; the legendary sportsman and patriot who is buried in the parish churchyard in Dunmanway.

Each of the eight bells has been given a theme, through which the story of Sam Maguire and the history of the town are told. The bells will ring officially for the first time during the Service.

The themes selected with the help of Dunmanway Historical Association and local people are:

• Sport
• Wars and Revolution
• Agriculture
• People of Dunmanway
• Migration
• Religious Traditions
• Education and Arts
• Industry and Commerce

These themes will be developed into story boards (posters) in part of the church telling Sam’s story and the history of Dunmanway town. One of the main aims of this project is to provide an amenity that can be used by all of the people of Dunmanway. Already, groups of people from the whole community have been learning the art of bell–ringing (campanology).

The next phase is to research, develop and present the story of Sam Maguire and the town Dunmanway in a format that would be suitable for tourists and school groups. We will also be adding a chiming mechanism that the Sam Maguire Community Bells can easily be rung by visitors.

Bishop Colton said: ‘As we approach another sequence of centenary years of commemorations (1918–1923) it is, I believe, vital that we acknowledge the intervening 100 years: what we are now, what we have become, and how things have changed, as well as remembering the history of events and times themselves. Our focus here in this Diocese will be forward–looking with special attention to reconciliation (not least reconciling memories) and fostering relationships for today and the times ahead. Events and projects that nurture opportunities for reconciliation and community–building in the Ireland of today will be important. This very imaginative community project which reaches out beyond the Church of Ireland parish to other churches, community groups, and national bodies – the idea of the local rector, the Reverend Cliff Jeffers – does exactly these things, in my view.’

The rector, the Reverend Cliff Jeffers, explains: ‘Sam Maguire was laid to rest in St. Mary’s churchyard (Church of Ireland) 90 years ago, and after the centenary celebrations last year we realised that we had done little to remember him. We chose to install the Sam Maguire Community Bells as a way of remembering Sam Maguire, of telling his story, and the story of Dunmanway town through eight different themes. As the people of Dunmanway learn to ring these bells together we hope that it will strengthen our sense of community and working together for the good of the home town of Sam Maguire.’

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