Saturday, 26 November 2011

The fading lights of a winter afternoon in Donabate

The fading evening lights on the beach in Donabate this evening (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2011)

Patrick Comerford

The temperatures are unseasonably mild for the end of November, staying in the mid-teens; the air is dry, and the sunrises and sunsets each day are throwing beautiful pink and purple hues across the skies; and there is still a stunning combination of green, orange, yellow and brown shades on the leaves on the trees along the banks of the River Dodder in Rathfarnham.

But there is a touch of winter in the short days and the gathering grey clouds, and I can feel winter making her home in my lungs and on my chest.

I led a short service with an Orthodox and Byzantine theme in the chapel yesterday [Friday] morning, using music and hymns in Greek, Romanian and Russian, and introducing the practice of the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have Mercy on me the Sinner” (Κύριε Ἰησοῦ Χριστέ, Υἱέ τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἐλέησόν με τὸν ἁμαρτωλόν).

I then spent much of the remainder of the morning at my GP’s, waiting for my once-a-month B12 injection. It was a good opportunity to catch up on some of my personal reading too.

My sermon for the Cathedral Eucharist tomorrow morning [Sunday] in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, was finished quite a few days ago, and I woke late this morning – later than I remember for many years. After a late breakfast, two of us headed to Donabate in north Co Dublin for a walk on the beach.

Donabate is 20 km north-east of Dublin, but in this afternoon’s traffic it took little more than half an hour to get there on the M50 from Knocklyon.

Sunlight, sand and the sea at Donabate this evening (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2011)

In the fading lights of the afternoon, the tide was out and bright shards from the setting sun were caught in the watery ripples of sand that filled the lengthy stretch of Corballis beach, which was strewn with black mussel shells. Normally, the views there stretch as far as Howth Head to the south-east and to Lambay Island to the north-east. But this evening, as the waves rolled and rumbled out to the east, it was possible to see as far as the Sugar Loaf and the peaks of the Wicklow Mountains, like a purple range in clear relief to the south.

Earlier this month, local reports were complaining of “nasty niffs” and “constant bad odours” on Corballis Beach. But there was no whiff this afternoon, and as the sunlight faded and dusk took hold we took a shorter walk on the smaller beach below the hotel before heading on to Portrane to visit my cousins there.

We are just a five weeks away from Christmas. This is the end of the Church Year, and a New Year begins tomorrow with the First Sunday of Advent. I am looking forward to preaching at the Cathedral Eucharist tomorrow morning and to taking part in the Advent Procession in the cathedral at 5 p.m. tomorrow evening. Even as winter closes in, we can always find fresh signs of new beginnings, new light and new beginnings that should be marked by hope and by love.

‘Rediscovering a Wexford–born stuccodore’s art’

The ‘Church of Ireland Notes’ on the Church of Ireland website today [26 November 2011] include the following paragraph:

Canon Patrick Comerford of the Church of Ireland Theological Institute is one of the principal contributors to the latest edition of the Journal of the Wexford Historical Society which was launched last week in the Greenacres Art Gallery in Wexford by Professor Kevin Whelan of the Keough Naughton Notre Dame Centre, Dublin. Canon Comerford’s paper, ‘James Comerford (1817–1902): rediscovering a Wexford–born Victorian stuccodore’s art,’ looks at the work and career of his great–grandfather, James Comerford, who began his career working with the architects Richard Pierce, AWN Pugin and JJ McCarthy on their Wexford churches. After Pugin’s death, he moved from Wexford to Dublin, where his artistic and architectural work included the now–demolished ‘Irish House’ on the corner of Wintetavern Street and Wood Quay, below Christ Church Cathedral, and the Oarsman, a public house still standing in Ringsend.

An abbreviated version of this paragraph is included in the ‘Church of Ireland Notes’ in The Irish Times today.