Saturday, 5 September 2009

Remembering early religious refugees in Co Wexford

The Church of Ireland Notes in The Irish Times today [Saturday, 5 September 2009] report:

The 300th anniversary [of the] arrival of the German-speaking Palatine Community in Co Wexford will be commemorated at a special service in St Mary’s Church, Old Ross, at 7.30 p.m. next Wednesday.

The service has been organised by the Revd Lynne Rogers, priest-in-charge of the New Ross Union of Parishes and local historians Bernard Browne and Nicky Furlong. The preacher will be Canon Patrick Comerford, Director of Spiritual Formation in the Church of Ireland Theological Institute.

At the beginning of the 18th century, more than 13,500 German-speaking Lutherans were forced to flee religious persecution in the Rhineland-Pfaltz. About 13,500 refugees from the Palatinate were first offered the opportunity to settle in the English colonies in North America. However, this proved to be impossible financially, so they were offered lands in England and Ireland, and a German Palatine settlement was consolidated at Old Ross in Co Wexford.

Like the Huguenots before them, these Protestant immigrants from Continental Europe were eventually assimilated into the Church of Ireland, and are remembered through Palatine family names such as Rynehart, Altimas, Jacob, Poole and Frrizell.