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Church of Ireland Notes from ‘The Irish Times’

The Past On–Line

When the present is challenging and the future uncertain the past can often seem like a safer place. Not that all the problems of the past have been resolved – far from it, but then that, in part, is what so attractive about the past. We can read of past events through the words of those who have interpreted it for us but equally we can join the ever growing band of those who become engaged in research and so in their turn contribute to this great bank of interpretation.

Much of this research is, of course, undertaken in research libraries and archives, and, given the almost complete closedown of such cultural facilities at present, the search for the past is somewhat more difficult but far from impossible. One of the most striking aspects of life in the research community in recent years has been the quantity of material which is available, free of charge, on–line.

For those researching aspects of Church of Ireland history, or for those who are simply curious, several on–line sources have become available in recent years. To the fore in this activity has been the RCB Library – www.library.ireland,anglican.org

Lists and indexes of archives and manuscripts in the Library’s collections are available and at present an ambitious programme is underway to digitize all the parish registers.

In addition, work is in progress to provide digital copies of the medieval codices in the Library – so far the 14th century Red Book of Ossory and the Liber Niger which is associated with the 16th century archbishop of Dublin, John Alen, are available.

Of wider interest is the cooperative project between the Library and the Church of Ireland Gazette to provide remote access, in a fully searchable format, to copies of the newspaper.

Most popular has been the Archive of the Month presentation which each month highlights an aspect of the Library’s collections. This was an initiative of the then Assistant Archivist, now Librarian & Archivist, Dr Susan Hood, in 2011, and initially she generated virtually all the copy. But in recent years researchers in the Library have been invited to submit material and a regular contributor has been the historian, Dr Miriam Moffitt.

Outside the RCB Library the most significant Church of Ireland on–line resource is the Church of Ireland journal, Search, edited by Canon Ginnie Kennerley. In a project managed by Search’s honorary treasurer, Michael Denton, all the back issues of the journal, beginning in 1978, have been digitized and are freely available at www.searchjournal.ireland.anglican.org/archive

Each year this resource is updated. It is fully searchable by subject, author, date, word usage or other variables and constitutes an unrivalled source of data on thinking within the Church of Ireland and beyond on a wide variety of theological, ethical, liturgical and social matters over the past forty years. It is hoped to add to this project by digitizing the files of Search’s predecessors, New Divinity and Resources.

Tomorrow morning (Sunday), a Service of Morning Prayer will be broadcast on RTE 1 television and RTE radio 1 extra. The service will be led by Dr Michael Jackson, Archbishop of Dublin. The reader will be Margaret Healion and the Revd Jack Kinkead will sing, accompanied by Klaas Jan de Vries. Constraints due to Covid 19 have meant that numbers in studio are at a minimum. Kairos Communications have kindly made a studio available to RTE for the live broadcasting and pre–recording of services in order that worship may continue to be broadcast.

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Church of Ireland Notes

Published weekly in the Saturday edition of The Irish Times