31 October 2015

Casting out darkness and
fear this Hallowe’en

Blue skies and blue seas at Bray this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

Patrick Comerford

Despite the dullness of the weather yesterday afternoon, the bright sunny weather returned today [31 October 2015], and with the bright blue skies and temperatures that pushed to 16 above, this day was more like the ‘Indian Summer’ we enjoyed recently than the day before November.

Despite the gloomy, dark ideas that can dominate Hallowe’en, this was like a Spring day, and I had no need for a coat and scarf or a hat when I went for a walk along the Promenade in Bray, Co Wicklow, this afternoon, and stepped down on the shoreline for a walk along the pebbles and the seashore.

There were clear views out to the Irish Sea, north beyond Dalkey Island and south beyond Bray Head.

Although there was no-one out sailing, about four or five people had braved the waters for a swim, and the ice cream parlours were doing good business.

Two of us had a late lunch, including a glass of wine and double espressos, in Carpe Diem, which was decorated for a Hallowe’en party later this evening, before returning for another walk under the blue skies by the beach.

Pebbles and rocks by the seafront in Bray this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

Later this evening, I am going to a special All Saints’ Eve service in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, with the theme “What are you afraid of?”

We sometimes throw this question around as a challenge, a dare, and yet many of us face very real fears in our daily lives: fear of the future, of hurt, of betrayal, of death. How do we handle these fears? What can we do with them?

This Hallowe’en night, all are invited to bring those fears and hold them up to see them in a different light. This alternative-style Eucharist will include an open prayer time for people present to engage with interactive prayer installations relating to our day-to-day fears.

Prayer ministry will also be available for those who would like someone to pray with them about a need.

As the invitation says, “Perfect love casts out all fear” (I John 4: 18).

The Revd Jack Kinkead, Priest-in-Charge of Wicklow and Killiskey, is the preacher. This service is an opportunity to experience something different than a typical Hallowe’en and to pray for the health and well-being of the city and country on a night that when there is often a focus on darkness and fear.

Christ Church Cathedral is open for prayer from 9 p.m. this evening, the All Saints’ Eucharist is being celebrated at 9.30 p.m., and tea and coffee are being served in the Cathedral Crypt afterwards.

‘What are you afraid of’ ... the invitation to this evening’s All Saints’ Eve service in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin

The memory of Comberford village church
lives on in a hassock in Lichfield Cathedral

A hassock with the name of Comberford in a niche in Lichfield Cathedral (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

Patrick Comerford

It brought a smile to my face when I walked around Lichfield Cathedral after the mod-day Eucharist last Saturday [24 October 2015], and found that a hassock with the name of Comberford is still sitting comfortably although the church in Comberford village closed over two years ago in October 2013.

The hassock represents a group of churches in the Tamworth Deanery, and it was not too difficult to find last Saturday afternoon. The other churches named on this hassock are Fazeley, Drayton Bassett, Clifton Camville, Two Gates and Hockley.

It is just a year since Malcolm Fisher posted a short film of the church in Comberford on YouTube that illustrates the sadness created when a village church closes.

On Friday 31 October 2014, he had to get complete strangers and their tractor to haul him and his car out of the mud. He felt he ought to say a prayer of thanks, and so he headed to the tiny village of Comberford, where he knew there was a tiny church dedicated to Saint Mary and Saint George.

“My plan was sadly foiled, as the Church was locked securely and no access could be gained,” he recalls “Nonetheless, as it was an incredibly warm day for the time of year, I captured a video to share my experience and I chose a favourite Classical Piece of Music to accompany it, namely Gymnopedie No. 1 by Satie.”

Posting his film on YouTube, he said he hoped “you find a little peace and tranquillity when you watch the finished effort.”

The church was built just after the World War I but held its final service two years ago on Sunday 13 October 2013 before closing its doors for the very last time. This was a Harvest Festival Service led by Bishop of Wolverhampton, the Right Revd Clive Gregory.

The church was originally built in 1919 on land donated by the Paget family to the Lichfield Diocesan Trust for the erection of a mission church.

The church closed despite the fact that the villagers and parishioners in Comberford and Wigginton Parish had raised £6,000 to repair the roof of the church after an unsuccessful National Lottery community grant application.

The hassock in Lichfield Cathedral bearing the name of Comberford bears a logo with a Red Cross for Saint George embossed with a White Rose for the Virgin Mary, the two patrons of Saint Mary’s and Saint George’s.

The village church in Comberford remains closed, its future is still uncertain, and the experience of Malcolm Fisher shows how its closure means the loss of many, uncountable opportunities for mission and outreach.

Back on the Pugin trail with a visit to
Saint Chad’s Cathedral, Birmingham

Saint Chad’s Cathedral is Birmingham’s hidden jewel and one of the city’s architectural and artistic gems (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

Patrick Comerford

During my visit to Birmingham last week [23 October 2015], I returned to the Pugin train when I was offered the opportunity of a private tour of Saint Chad’s Cathedral – Birmingham’s hidden jewel on the edge of the Jewellery Quarter.

I have often seen this cathedral from the outside as I was passing through Birmingham on my way to or from Lichfield, but this was my first time to see the inside of this beautiful building with a remarkable history and a rich heritage.

The cathedral was designed by AWN Pugin (1812-1852), the pioneer of Gothic revival architecture in England and Ireland. It was built between 1839 and 1841 to serve the rapidly expanding Roman Catholic population in Birmingham, and replaced an earlier Georgian classical chapel built by William Hollins in 1808.

Saint Chad’s Cathedral stands in a public greenspace near Saint Chad’s Queensway, in central Birmingham. It replaced a smaller church dedicated to Saint Austin (Augustine), built on the same site in 1808, in the Gunmakers’ Quarter. It was designed in the north German 13th century style by Pugin, and was consecrated on 21 June 1841 by Bishop Thomas Walsh.

Saint Chad’s is one of Birmingham’s architectural and artistic gems and has a large collection of mediaeval furnishings and carvings collected by Pugin. He was the pioneer of the Gothic revival in England and Ireland. Before he died in 1852 at the age of 40, he designed many cathedrals, churches and convents with their furnishings and contents in England, Ireland and Australia.

Pugin was also responsible for much of the interiors of the Houses of Parliament in London. Three of his sons, Edward, Cuthbert and Peter Paul Pugin, also worked in Birmingham Cathedral.

Saint Chad’s Cathedral is built of brick laid in Flemish bond, with Bath stone dressings and slate roofs. Brick was chosen for economy, allowing more resources to be deployed on the more important task of fitting out.

John Talbot, 16th Earl of Shrewsbury, was a generous benefactor of Saint Chad’s and his heraldic insignia can be seen throughout the cathedral (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

The project received generous donations from John Talbot, 16th Earl of Shrewsbury, who was the last Roman Catholic to hold the title of Earl of Shrewsbury. The foundation stone was laid in October 1839 for what became the first Roman Catholic cathedral built in England since the Reformation.

Saint Chad’s was the first large church that Pugin designed that was planned, from the outset in 1837, as a cathedral. Pugin lavished great care on the building. In his letters, he describes the architecture, decoration, fittings and furnishings in detail. The Clerk of Works and builder of Saint Chad’s was George Myers.

Pugin’s work and design

Saint Chad’s is built on steeply sloping land that fell away to the canal and wharf (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

The site for Saint Chad’s was steeply sloping land that fell away to the canal and wharf. Because of the narrow site, and the necessity to build in brick rather than stone, Pugin was restricted in the style and proportions of the church that he could design. The geographical alignment is unusual, so the liturgical “east end” actually faces approximately north-west.

Pugin wished to make the church as open and spacious as possible, and so he looked to the style of churches built in Northern Germany in the late Middle Ages. Saint Chad’s is built like a brick hall church or hallenkirke, similar to Munich Cathedral, and has a westwerk with narrow broached spires similar to those of Lübeck Cathedral. The style has also been compared with other north German churches of the 13th century, including Saint Elizabeth, Marburg.

Because of the steep slope on the site, Pugin built a large crypt underneath, to be used as a burial place for family tombs, and former cathedral clergy. Bishop Walsh buried in the crypt in 1849. Here too are buried Pugin’s second wife, Louisa, who died in 1844, and four generations of the Hardman family. However, the crypt is now a rehearsal room for the choir.

The interior of Saint Chad’s Cathedral (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

The interior, where the nave is almost twice as high as it is wide, has a very high arcade, like German hall churches, carried on clusters of thin shafts. Those in the chancel are decorated in paint and gold leaf with helix-style patterns like a barber’s pole, bearing the words Sanctus Sanctus Sanctus Dominus Deus Sabaoth (‘Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts’). The wooden ceiling, with curving blue trusses, is ornamented with monograms and floral patterns, inspired by the remnants of mediaeval decoration found on the ceilings of Ely Cathedral and Peterborough Cathedral.

Phoebe Stanton describes the ornate decoration of the ceiling as ‘brilliant’ and so delicate that ‘it resembles fabric stretched over a lattice.’ (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

Pugin’s biographer Phoebe Stanton describes the ornate decoration of the ceiling as ‘brilliant’ and so delicate that ‘it resembles fabric stretched over a lattice.’

Pugin designed or procured many of the fittings and furnishings, with the support of Lord Shrewsbury, including the high altar under an elaborate baldachin, with riddel posts, and the choir screen. The Bishop’s Chair, in oak upholstered in green velvet, and decorated with the diocesan coat-of -arms was also designed by Pugin.

Other fittings, such the 16th century carved pulpit and the mediaeval canons’ stalls, came from churches in Belgium and Germany respectively and were collected and donated by Lord Shrewsbury.

Lord Shrewsbury, who donated the stalls and a brass lectern, acquired abroad and the latter later sold by the cathedral. John Hardman father and son contributed to the cost of the rood screen, and high altar.

A brass memorial to members of the Hardman family who are buried in the crypt below (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

The sanctuary windows are the work of William Warrington. Other windows, metalwork, fittings and vestments were provided by John Hardman of Birmingham, to the design or specifications of Pugin. Hardman was a parishioner of Saint Chad’s, founding the Cathedral Choir in 1854. Four generations of the Hardman family are buried in the family chantry chapel in the crypt.

The south-west spire was added by Pugin’s eldest son, Edward Welby Pugin, in 1856 in memory of Canon John Moore, Administrator of the Cathedral (1841-1848).

Saint Chad’s became a cathedral formally in 1852, two years after Pope Pius IX restored the Roman Catholic hierarchy of England and Wales. Cardinal John Henry Newman preached at the enthronement Bishop William Bernard OSB as the first Bishop of Birmingham. Bishop Ullathorne, whose monument is the cathedral crypt, was buried at Saint Dominic’s Priory, Stone.

The plan consists of an aisled nave, western towers with spires, shallow transepts, short apsidal chancel flanked by the Lady Chapel and sacristies, a north baptistery with steps down to the crypt below. The north-west chapel was added in 1933.

Pugin’s intended spire at the crossing was not built. His short sanctuary was insufficient for the building’s new status and functions, and in 1854 it was extended under the crossing by his son, Edward Welby Pugin, who brought forward Pugin’s roodscreen. EW Pugin also oversaw the addition of the south-west spire in 1856.

The west front is symmetrical, with two thin towers with equally thin broach spires, that to the south-west completed in 1856 (EW Pugin). The northwest tower has a ring of five bells originally cast by Mears of Whitechapel and augmented by three by Blews of Birmingham in 1877, all recast by Taylors of Loughborough in 1940.

The carved tympanum with the Virgin Mary and Christ Child and censing angels (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

The central main entrance has a doorway divided by a stone pier and a carved tympanum with the Virgin Mary and Christ Child and censing angels. Above this, a large six-light window with geometrical tracery and in the gable a spherical triangle window with trefoils. In the towers, the height of the paired windows is accentuated by integral niches, with statues of English saints.

Many of the original furnishings have been lost, but Pugin’s high altar of 1841 survives. It was paid for by John Hardman Senior and Junior, who also paid for Pugin’s roodscreen. The high altar has riddel posts and an elaborately carved gable with cusped arch enclosing the relic chest of Saint Chad, with the crowning spire (Gerald Hardman) added in 1933. Below this, the tabernacle is by JH Powell (1878).

The oak choir stalls and Pugin’s oak archbishop’s throne incorporate late mediaeval carved woodwork. This was traditionally said to come from Saint Mary in Capitol, Cologne but is now thought to be more likely Netherlandish, with carved figures and linenfold panelling.

The Lady Chapel in Saint Chad's Cathedral (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

Pugin’s altar also survives in the Lady Chapel (1841), with carvings of the Presentation in the Temple, the Nativity and the Adoration of the Magi, and a contemporary reredos carved with the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child flanked by the Annunciation and the Visitation. The chapel also retains Pugin’s screen and parclose screen, and a 15th century statue of the Virgin and Child given by Pugin. The fibreglass statue of Saint Joseph is by Michael Clarke (1969).

Pugin’s elaborate canopied monument to Bishop Walsh in the north transept (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

In the north transept is Pugin’s elaborate canopied Bath stone monument to Bishop Walsh, made by Myers and a ledger brass to John Bernard Hardman, who died in 1903.

Pugin’s font, now in the north aisle, is octagonal and carved with the symbols of the four evangelists (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

Pugin’s font, now in the north aisle, is octagonal and carved with the symbols of the evangelists.

The war memorial in the south aisle (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

In the south aisle is a war memorial of by Gerald Hardman (1921), with a relief of the Deposition of Christ from the Cross and a memorial tablet to Archbishop Williams (died 1946), by GB Cox. Along both aisles, the Stations of the Cross are by Albrecht Franz Lieven de Vriendt of Antwerp (1875).

The oak pulpit displays statues of Doctors of the Church (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

In the nave, the hexagonal oak pulpit is now placed against the north-west crossing pier, moved there from the south side in 1968. It incorporates statues of Doctors of the Church, and was made by Pugin from one of ca 1520, obtained probably from Saint Gertrude’s Abbey, Leuven, and given by Lord Shrewsbury in 1841.

The pews of Japanese oak were designed by GB Cox and date from 1940.

The 19th century wooden statue of Saint Chad holding a model of Lichfield Cathedral (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015

On the south side, a 19th century wooden statue shows Saint Chad holding a model of Lichfield Cathedral with its three spires.

In 1932-1933, Saint Chad’s was extended with the addition of Saint Edward’s Chapel, designed by Pugin’s grandson, Sebastian Pugin Powell, as a memorial for Archbishop Edward Ilsley, second Bishop and first Archbishop of Birmingham, and his patron, Saint Edward the Confessor.

The altar in Saint Edward’s Chapel was designed by Gerald Hardman (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

The altar in this chapel is by Gerald Hardman (1933). The chapel windows tell the stories of the relics of Saint Chad, and of those who have served the church there, along with colourful ecclesiastical coats of arms.

War-time risks

The former Bishop’s House is recalled in windows in the cathedral (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

Because the cathedral was situated in the Gunmakers’ Quarter, it was in a dangerous location during World War II. On 22 November 1940, a German incendiary bomb fell through the roof of the south aisle, bounced from the floor into some central heating pipes, and then burst. However, the water from the damaged central heating pipes put out the fire.

A thanksgiving tablet appears in the diapered design of the transept ceiling, reading ‘Deo Gratias 22 Nov 1940.

The bishop’s house designed by Pugin was built opposite the cathedral on Bath Street in 1842. Pugin described it as of ‘solid, solemn and scholastic character’ and by it has also been described as ‘Pugin’s first, and one of his most successful attempts, to create an urban Gothic idiom.’

The former Bishop’s House was demolished in 1960 to make way for the inner ring road. The house is recalled in windows in a passageway off the cathedral, and a chimney-piece and two chairs salvaged from the house are on display in the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington.

But worse was to follow.

Loss and restoration

The High Altar in Saint Chad’s Cathedral (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

Although the cathedral was first listed in 1952, a major programme of reordering, redesign, repair, relighting and reheating was instigated in 1964 by Archbishop George Dwyer (1908-1987), and designed by the architects Weightman & Bullen of Liverpool and York.

The sanctuary was rearranged to allow for more active participation by the congregation. The sanctuary was remodelled and extended to the chancel crossing. There was a debate about retaining the roodscreen designed by Pugin and restoring this to the original position in the sanctuary. But it was decided at the time that this would inhibit the free circulation around the new high altar and sanctuary.

Pugin’s roodscreen was removed and the interior was repainted, to the detriment of the original design. The roodscreen was re-erected in the Anglican parish church of Holy Trinity, Reading. Other artefacts were removed to other churches, including the giant rood crucifix, which was removed to the Church of the Sacred Heart and Saint Therese, in Coleshill.

Pugin’s tiled floors in the sanctuary were replaced with polished marble, and the organ was relocated the from the sanctuary arch to the west end, leaving a small choir organ adjoining the sanctuary.

The demolition of the Bishop’s House and Archbishop Dwyer’s reordering prompted a description in 1982 of the cathedral and its setting as ‘mutilated.’

When the cathedral was restored by Duval Brownhill, the giant rood crucifix was reinstated in the sanctuary (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

The internal damage was ameliorated in reordering and redecoration carried out from 1992 for Archbishop Maurice Couve de Murville by Duval Brownhill (now Brownhill Hayward Brown). As part of the restoration work, the giant rood crucifix was reinstated in the sanctuary, albeit without the attendant figures of the Virgin Mary and Saint John.

The redecoration and reordering have restored something of the colour and character of Pugin’s interior (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015

The redecoration and reordering have also reinstated something of the colour and character of Pugin’s interior. The 19th century-style encaustic tile floors in the sanctuary are by H&R Johnson (1992), replacing the 1960s marble. The stone forward altar, pierced with cusped openings, dates from 1992. At the west end of the nave, the organ, built by JW Walker & Sons in 1993, has a painted Gothic case by David Graebe.

One of the partners in Duval Brownhill at the time was Derrick Duval, a Chartered Architect who was the Mayor of Lichfield in 1982. Derrick and Pauline Duval live in Lichfield in the ‘Bogey Hole,’ their lovingly restored Grade 2 listed house in Dam Street, where I have been their guest.

Finding old bones

Saint Chad’s is the only cathedral in England to have the relics of its patron saint above the altar (Patrick Comerford, 2015)

Saint Chad’s is the only cathedral in England to have the relics of its patron saint above the altar.

As I was recalling during my visit to Saint John’s Hospital in Lichfield last week, pilgrims visited the Shrine of Saint Chad in Lichfield Cathedral for hundreds of years to pray for cures, and many miracles were recorded at the shrine. At the Reformation, the shrine in Lichfield was dismantled in 1538 and the bones of Saint Chad either destroyed or buried in an unknown location.

Canon Arthur Dudley rescues Saint Chad’s bones in Lichfield Cathedral … a window in Saint Edward’s Chapel (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

However, one of the priests at Lichfield Cathedral, Canon Arthur Dudley, rescued a box containing some of Saint Chad’s bones which was kept in Saint Chad’s Head Chapel. He asked two female relatives, probably his nieces, Bridget and Katherine Dudley, who lived at Russell’s Hall, Dudley, to look after them. They in turn passed them on to two brothers, Henry and William Hodgetts, who lived at Woodsetton Farm at Sedgley near Wolverhampton. They divided the bones between them.

William Hodgetts died in 1649 and his widow gave his share of the bones to Henry, who reputedly kept them hidden on the top of his four-poster bed. When Henry Hodgetts was dying in 1651 he received the Last Rites from a Jesuit priest, Father Peter Turner.

A dying Henry William Hodgetts points Father Peter Turner to Saint Chad’s bones ... a window in Saint Edward’s Chapel (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

During the Litany of the Saints, Henry began praying: ‘Saint Chad, pray for me.” When Father Turner asked why he was so devoted to Saint Chad, he explained he had some of Saint Chad’s bones in his possession.

Henry Hodgetts handed the bones to Father Turner who wrote down all that Henry had told him about the relics and how they had come to him through the Dudley family. Father Turner had his statement witnessed by two other Jesuits and they had a new casket made, covered in red velvet and with silver hinges and locks, made for the relics. He then took the bones to the Seminary of St Omer, in Northern France, where he was based.

The Jesuits later entrusted the bones to Basil Fitzherbert (1748-1797) of Swynnerton Hall, near Stoke-on-Trent, for safe-keeping. Basil died in 1797 and his widow and eight-year-old old son moved to a smaller house at Aston by Stone. There a chapel was built and served as Mass centre for the surrounding district.

The family eventually returned to Swynnerton Hall, and Aston Hall and the chapel was closed. It is said that in the 19th century, the relics found their way into the hands of Basil Fitzherbert’s brother, Sir Thomas Fitzherbert-Brockholes of Aston Hall, near Stafford.

When Sir Thomas died, his widow moved to a smaller house and their chaplain, Father Benjamin Hulme, found the dusty velvet-covered box of relics under the altar, including six bones wrapped in silk with Father Turner’s document. The bones were taken to Oscott, where they were examined by Bishop Walsh, the Vicar Apostolic of the Midland District, who was considering a suitable patronal dedication for his new cathedral, and his coadjutor, Bishop Nicholas Wiseman.

A report was sent to Rome, where Pope Gregory XVI confirmed that these were the bones of Saint Chad and instructed that they be enshrined in the new cathedral being built in Birmingham. They were placed in a shrine designed by Pugin above the High Altar on the day of its consecration on 21 June 1841. The shrine, which Pugin based on the Venerable Bede’s description of the original at Lichfield, was further embellished by Hardmans in 1931.

In 1995, Archbishop Maurice Couve de Murville arranged for a fresh examination of the bones. Carbon dating analysis by the archaeological laboratory at Oxford University concluded that one of the bones dates from the eighth century, and so cannot belong to Saint Chad. The other five all date from the mid-seventh century, which concurs with the death of Saint Chad on 2 March 672. But two of the bones are left femurs and so are of different people. Perhaps one, if not three, of the bones are those of Saint Chad. But the bones are still kept together and venerated collectively.

Finding the cathedral

Saints carved on the west front of Saint Chad’s Cathedral (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

Saint Chad’s Cathedral stands in a green public space in Birmingham, near Snow Hill station, in what is now called Saint Chad’s Queensway after the cathedral. It is at the junction with Snow Hill Queensway and Old Snow Hill and Constitution Hill, part of the Birmingham Inner Ring Road built in the 1970s.

Saint Chad’s is on the north side of the road, which divides the cathedral from the city centre.

To mark the centenary of Saint Chad’s Cathedral, Pope Pius XII declared it a minor basilica in 1941.

Saint Chad’s is listed as one of Birmingham’s most significant buildings in the recent Pevsner Architectural Guide to Birmingham by Andy Foster. It also features in ‘A Glimpse of Heaven,’ a survey of the best 100 Catholic Churches in England and Wales published by English Heritage, in conjunction with the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales, in 2006.

30 October 2015

In the fading light, there is time
to remember saints and souls

Autumn lights in the late evening at the Café Garden in Mount Usher, Ashford, Co Wicklow (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

Patrick Comerford

Since the clocks went back last weekend, the evenings are closing in much more quickly, and it is almost dark before the working day has finished.

The evening canticles, such as Hail Gladdening Light and Nunc Dimittis seem more appropriate at Evensong on these darkening evenings, and yesterday we also sang Henry Francis Lyte’s hymn about the evening of life, Abide with me, fast falls the eventide.

This afternoon, before evening lights began to fade, two of us left work early and drove down through the Glen o’ the Downs to Ashford for a late lunch in the Garden Café at Mount Usher Gardens.

As we drove through this part of Co Wicklow, the trees were a burnished mixture of green, gold, yellow and brown, as if the autumn leaves are holding onto the branches even though November is only a few days away.

A cheerful, cheeky robin on one of the tables at the Café Garden in Mount Usher this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

The tables in the garden were virtually deserted – one person was sitting alone, working on her laptop as she sipped on her cappuccino; one other table was occupied by a cheerful, cheeky robin, as he hopped from chair to table and on to another table, obviously used to be being given sweet morsels by people throughout the day.

Inside, we were given a table by the large window looking out on the gardens with its autumn trees and flowers.

By the time we were leaving, darkness had fallen, and there was a warm glow around some of the tables that were lit.

On the way back home, a few early Hallowe’en bonfires were burning, though with little sense of enthusiasm.

Soon the leaves are going to fade and fall faster, and this seems to be an appropriate time of the year to consider the natural cycle of life and death and new life, to celebrate All Saints and to remember All Souls:

Change and decay in all around I see;
O thou who changest not,
abide with me.

Some colour remains on some of the trees at Mount Usher (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

Photographs in new edition
of ‘Ordination Newsletter’

The Church of Ireland Theological Institute … photograph on the front page of the ‘Church of Ireland Ordination Newsletter,’ October 2015 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

Patrick Comerford

The 2015 edition of the Church of Ireland Ordination Newsletter is now available. The October 2015 edition of the Ordination Newsletter, published earlier this week, has been produced by the Central Director of Ordinands, Canon David Gillespie.

The Newsletter lists the students now studying at the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, welcomes the team of Diocesan Directors of Ordinands, and provides useful information for people considering ordination.

In the newsletter, Canon Gillespie says: “I’m most grateful to the Rev. Canon Patrick Comerford for taking the photographs for this newsletter and to Daphne Metcalfe in CITI for her assistance.”

The newsletter uses two of my photographs – one shows the façade of the CITI (above), the other is based on a copy of the icon of Christ Pantocrator from Mount Sinai that hangs in the institute chapel (right).

The new newsletter is also available through this link.

29 October 2015

Anglicanism 4 (MDI, 2015-2016):
Church, culture and being relevant

The Abbey Theatre ... the founding members included Lady Gregory and WB Yeats (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Mater Dei Institute of Education,



Patrick Comerford,

Week 2, 29 October 2015,

Introduction to the Church of Ireland

3, The Church of Ireland and its place in Irish society today

4, Church, culture and being relevant.

2 p.m.:

4, Church, culture and being relevant:

I said in our introductory hand-out that the Church of Ireland is the Church of Jonathan Swift, Lord Edward FitzGerald, Charles Stewart Parnell, Douglas Hyde and WB Yeats, and I said we shall look at that next week when we discuss the topic of Church, culture and identity.

Culture and identity:

The cultural, social and political contributions of members of the Church of Ireland to Irish life.

Try to name some prominent Irish Anglicans from the past:


Sean O’Casey, the playwright of the left, was born into the Church of Ireland (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The Church of Ireland is the Church of:

● Writers like Jonathan Swift;
● Philosophers like George Berkeley;
● Hymn writers like Henry Francis Lyte, who wrote “Abide with me”, and Cecil Alexander, who wrote “All things bright and beautiful.”

The Church of Ireland is the church of:

● Brewers like Arthur Guinness.
● Writers like Bram Stoker and Elizabeth Bowen.
● Playwrights like John Millington Synge, Sean O’Casey (name some plays?), Lady Gregory, and so has an intimate connection with the foundation of the Abbey Theatre.
● Nobel prize winners such as George Bernard Shaw and Samuel Beckett.
● Poets like Oscar Wilde, WB Yeats and Louis MacNeice.
● The painters Jack Yeats and William Orpen.

Culture and identity are also linked with the economic and business contributions of members of the Church of Ireland.

Think for example of the founding figures in Guinness or the Bank of Ireland.

Political contributions:

Charles Stewart Parnell, founder of the Irish Parliamentary Party, influenced a later generation of nationalists (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

1798: Lord Edward FitzGerald; Archibald Hamilton Rowan; Henry Monroe, Betsy Grey, Bagenal Harvey, the Colcloughs, the Grogans and the Boxwells.

1803: Robert Emmet, Thomas Russell.

Later: William Smith O’Brien; Charles Stewart Parnell.

Rev William Hickey “Martin Doyle” and agricultural reform.

The Gaelic revival: Douglas Hyde, Semple Stadium and the Sam Maguire Cup.

1916: Countess Markievicz, Sean O’Casey.

The Irish Countrywomen’s Association, Annette Edith Lett.

1921/1922: Ernest Blythe and Erskine Childers.

1937: Douglas Hyde, first President of Ireland; later Erskine Childers.

The long avenue leading up to Stormont … a ‘Protestant Parliament for a Protestant people?’ (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

James Craig famously described Northern Ireland as having “a Protestant Parliament for a Protestant people.”

On the other hand, the General Synod sent an official delegation to Michael Collins to ask if they were “permitted to live in Ireland or if [it is] desired that they should leave the country” – this despite the role of many members of the Church of Ireland in the War of Independence, including Constance Markiewicz (Constance Gore-Booth), Erskine Childers, Sean O’Casey and Robert Barton, and that the first President of Ireland would be a son of the rectory, Douglas Hyde.

After partition, the Church of Ireland population continued to decline in the area that is now the Republic of Ireland.

Statistics show a noticeable decline particularly in both border counties and in provincial towns.

Surprisingly, emigration did not take the same toll, comparatively, as is often imagined.

In the period 1946-1961, 15 per cent of Roman Catholics emigrated, while 10 per cent of Protestants emigrated.

To what degree were numbers retained through maintaining separate social structures, such as schools, hospitals, sports clubs, dances, homes, orphanages, and so on?

Was there a presumed, unspoken definition of community?

Did we create a myth of a shared common ancestry?

Did we imagine a new, separate “ethnic group”?

Did we try to convince ourselves that we are a separate cultural community, united by common cultural traits?

The feeling of exclusion among many southern Protestants was exacerbated by a number of well-known cases:

● The Mayo Library case (1930);
● The Tilson children custody case (1950);
● The Fethard-on-Sea boycott in Co Wexford (1957).

The Church in Irish society today:

Today, there are members the Church of Ireland who are high-profile and active members of all political parties:

[Question: Name some:]

Did your answers include: Trevor Sargent, Greens; Independent Shane Ross; Jan O’Sullivan, Minister for Education and Robert Dowds TD, Labour; Senator David Norris, Independent?

Consider too the contribution to Irish life today by members of the Church of Ireland such as Bono and U2, Sam Boothman, a recent president of the GAA.

Some issues facing Anglicanism and Anglicans today:

Past problems:

1, Sectarianism: legacy from the past (refer to Scullabogue, the Achill Mission).

2, The post-independence settlement (refer to Archbishop Gregg, the name of the Church of Ireland in the 1937 constitution).

3, Inter-marriage: the effect of Ne Temere. This lasted into the 1960s or even the 1970s. The story of the Fethard-on-Sea boycott is told in the movie, A love divided.

4, The Northern conflicts, more recent years, symbolised in many ways by the problems surrounding the Church of Ireland parish church in Drumcree, near Portadown.

Today’s problems:

In Ireland, the problems today may include:

1, Ecumenism and Sectarianism.

2, The economic crisis.

3, Issues in Northern Ireland, including Drumcree and flag-flying.

4, Over-burdened structures, and distances for parochial clergy.

5, The training and deployment of clergy.

6, The future of schools and education.

7, Women, their place in church government and structures, and residual opposition to women bishops and priests.

8, Sexuality: civil partnerships and same-gender marriages.

9, Racism

10, Interfaith relations, especially Muslim-Christian dialogue.


Creating and dealing with problems

The downturn in the economy over the past seven or eight years has seen a large number of immigrants who came to the Republic of Ireland from Eastern Europe, and who worked here as casual labourers, begin to return home. They are not going to show up in the rising unemployment figures, and once they are gone no-one is going to follow up their needs, pastorally, economically or socially. It will be a case of “out of sight, out of mind.”

Those who remain may, I fear, as the “real” unemployment figures remain high, face increasing resentment that may be expressed in racist terms. The jobs that were once despised, and left to Chinese workers who came here on “student” visas, are becoming attractive once again to our own teenage and young adult children – the late night grille at fillings stations, the cleaning and casual labouring shifts, the stacking and shelving jobs in the middle of the night in supermarkets.

These are major moral issues for the Church today. Any outside observer or commentator looking at the Church of Ireland and the Anglican Communion in this past decade would have thought the only moral issues we face are those that dominated the agenda at Gafcon and the Lambeth Conference in 2008.

But what about the major moral issues facing us in the Church today when it comes to welcoming the stranger in our midst and to providing pastoral care and support for our new immigrants?

The ‘stranger’ in our midst today

The changing face of Ireland? Polish magazines on sale in a shop in Capel Street, Dublin (Photograph Frank Millar/The Irish Times)

The statistics analysing the 2006 census returns in the Republic of Ireland produced unusual and curious details about the number of Greek Muslims, Chinese travellers, teenage widows and the two Maltese divorcees living in Ireland – perhaps they should be introduced to each other ... or perhaps their problems started when they were first introduced to each other.

They help us to underline the way in which we have all come to realise and accept: that Ireland has become a diverse and multicultural society. We never were a plain, boring, mono-cultural society. We have always been an island that has been diverse and plural because of the people who come to our shores: from the Celts, Parthalons and Vikings, to the Anglo-Normans, both English and French, the Gallowglass and the settler Scots; from the French in the Middle Ages, to the Huguenot refugees and the weaver of Dublin’s Liberties.

Who do you think are the single largest identifiable groups of people in the Republic of Ireland on any one day? And I mean among those who were not born in the Republic?

Despite the way we compile statistics, the two largest groups on any one day are:

● firstly, people born in the United Kingdom;

● secondly, tourists.

We do not notice the first group, because many of them were born in Northern Ireland or were born in England of Irish parents, and they speak and look like the vast majority of people here.

The second group we welcome with open arms. They provide us with income, revenue, and in economic terms the equivalent of exports – they bring in money from other countries, and, so, they are vital to a key sector of the economy.

I have never heard anyone complain in racist terms that the country is being swamped with Italian tourists. But I regularly hear gross exaggerations about the numbers of Nigerians and Somalis here.

Who are our immigrants?

Bunclody, Co Wexford … the town in the Republic of Ireland with the largest Polish population (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

So who are the strangers in our midst?

The census figures for 2011 show that Polish nationals (122,585), followed by those from the UK (112,259) are the largest non-Irish groups living in the Republic. The number of Polish nationals living here increased by 93.7 per cent between 2006 and 2011, while the number of UK nationals declined by 0.3 per cent.

Overall, 544,357 non-Irish nationals were living in Ireland at the time of the 2011 census, an increase of 29.7 per cent or 124,624 on 2006, some 12 per cent of the population.

The rate of growth was considerably slower than in the period covered by the 2006 census when the non-Irish population almost doubled to 419,733.

The sharpest percentage increases in non-Irish-born residents were among Romanians, with the population more than doubling from 8,566 to 17,995 (up 110 per cent) following EU accession in 2007 and people from India, where the community grew by 91 per cent to 17,856.

The largest rise in overall terms was, unsurprisingly, among the Polish-born community which grew from 63,090 to 115,193 (up 83 per cent) in the period. The growth in the number of Polish-born people was more than five times that recorded in the Lithuanian community, which grew by the second largest number (10,039) to 34,847.

People born in England and Wales still account for the largest group of individuals living in Ireland that were not born here at 212,286. The rate of growth in the group was small by comparison to many countries between 2006 and 2011 at about 3.7 per cent.

Unsurprisingly, Polish – with 119,526 people – was the foreign language most spoken in the home, followed by French (56,430), Lithuanian (31,635), German (27,342) and Spanish (22,446).

More than 25 per cent of those who spoke a foreign language at home were born in Ireland. Of these, 13,690 were children aged three to four years; 26,569 were primary school children and 21,187 were secondary pupils.

In terms of ethnicity, 85 per cent of Irish residents identify themselves as white Irish, a 4.9 per cent increase on the 2006 census. Immigration from Eastern Europe helped to push the number of “other white” respondents up by 43 per cent to 412,975.

Almost two-thirds of those making up ethnic groups other than white Irish were aged 35 years or less. Just 3 per cent in these groups were 65 or older. In contrast, less than half of those in the white Irish group were aged under 35 and 13 per cent were 65 or more.

Research at the National University of Ireland Maynooth (NUIM) has found that more than 167 different languages – from Acholi to Zulu – in use by 160 nationalities among the people in Ireland as their everyday first language of choice.

Ireland has become a multilingual society, so that the 2006 census was conducted in 13 languages. Apart from English and Irish, these languages are: Arabic, Chinese, Czech, French, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian and Spanish. In addition, information was also available in Estonian, Magyar (Hungarian), Slovak, Turkish and Yoruba.

Asylum seekers and refugees are a very small proportion of the number of foreign-born people in Ireland at any one top, and their numbers are decreasing steadily.

But there are other, unhidden problems. For examples, look at the Latvians. At one time, the Irish mushroom industry, a multi-million Euro industry, and they have been of economic benefit to us. But for the Latvians this has meant:

● They are often exploited and paid below the minimum wage.
● They leave behind children who are cared for by grandparents – creating what the Latvian media has called a new generation of “mushroom orphans.”
● They are over-qualified for their jobs, so they are part of a brain-drain on Latvia, which has paid for their training and education and needs their skills.
● They are easy victims of racism. After one industrial protest, an American newspaper ran the headline: “For Irish, Latvians fill the role of bogeymen.”

There may be 60,000 Chinese living in the state, perhaps half in the greater Dublin area, and many are here on student visas and without work permits.

Their Churches

Patrick Comerford with the authors of a report on Chinese students and immigrants, Dr Lan Li of University College Dublin and Dr Richard O’Leary of Queen’s University, Belfast, in the Chapel of Trinity College Dublin

Many of the Poles are Roman Catholics, but worship in their own parishes and congregations. Many of the immigrants from the Baltic countries are Lutherans, and under the Porvoo Agreement they are full communicant members of the Church of Ireland while they are here. But we have very little pastoral or liturgical engagement with them, and many of them probably have no idea of who we are.

The Chinese have their own Catholic parish in Dublin, with Masses in Chinese, while the Chinese Protestant Church is a very conservative evangelical church.

However, despite the increasing popularity of celebrations such as the Chinese New Year celebrations in Temple Bar Square, Dublin, we know very little about the religious beliefs and practices of the majority of Chinese people here.

Despite their visibility, the number of Nigerians in Ireland is probably lower than many of the public estimates. Of the 30,000 Africans thought to be in Ireland, about 20,000 are probably Nigerians. They suffer racism not only from Irish-born people but from other Africans too. Yet they make a positive contribution to public life in Ireland: Rotimi Adebarai became Ireland’s first black mayor in June 2007 in Portlaoise. Other African communities in Ireland include people from DR Congo, Sierra Leone, Somalia and Sudan.

The Romanian population is largely Dublin-based. There may be 20,000 Romanians in Ireland, although the numbers are dropping significantly at the moment, according to the priests of the Romanian Orthodox Church.

They often complain that they are all categorised as Gypsies or Roma. Yet there may only be about 2,000 Roma in Ireland, and many of those come from other Easter and Central European countries, including the Czech and Slovak republics, the former Yugoslav republics, Bulgaria and Hungary.

Admittedly, the census statistics are always on the low side when it comes to telling us who is living among us. Too many people are too afraid and too scared to register themselves at census times, worried that once noted they may face discrimination or forced deportation.

Immigrants and the Church of Ireland

The Discovery services in inner city Dublin ... providing ‘Anglican liturgies with African flavours’

What has this got to do with the Church of Ireland today, with who we are and what our mission is?

Apart from the duty on church members to comfort those who are in fear and to welcome the stranger, it is important that we do not see those who have arrived among us in recent years as problems, either in themselves or in the reaction of some sectors of society and government. They enrich our society, and they enrich our Church life too.

If Ireland is not monochrome or mono-cultural, then neither is the Church of Ireland.

Mission questions:

How is the Church getting it right?

How is the Church getting it wrong?

What are the challenges?

And what are the opportunities we can grasp in the Church of Ireland?

Example 1:

The ‘U2Charist’ in Saint George’s and Saint Thomas’s Church, Dublin ... what do we mean by the inculturation of the liturgy?

A positive example of the Church of Ireland has adapted and changed is provided by the ‘Discovery’ programme based at Saint George’s and Saint Thomas’s Church in inner city Dublin, including the Discovery services, choir and chaplaincy.

This has been positive for the church, for the parish, and for the international community. But it also led to other initiatives, such as the U2charist.

But success was only possible because the then priest-in-charge, Canon Katharine Poulton, now Dean of Saint Canice’s Cathedral, Kilkenny, was open to taking risks. And because her congregation was supportive as she took those risks.

The implications for ministry are obvious. We must be willing to be adventurous and innovative, who are risk-takers. We are ordained to be “messengers, watchers and stewards.” But instead, parishes often want their clergy to be building surveyors, caretakers and boiler-fixers.

Example 2:

A negative example comes from hospital chaplaincy. I heard someone say recently not that he, but that other members of the Church of Ireland, would not like the idea of a black African chaplain visiting the wards. Why not? He protested that he is not racist. But the implications are disturbing.

Many of our hospital and prison chaplains find themselves cast into the role of advocacy. They are the ones people – staff and patients or prisoners – turn to for advice about other minorities. Are our chaplains, lay and ordained, trained properly, and knowledgeable enough for this role in ministry?

Example 3:

There is a large new school in the Greater Dublin area under Church of Ireland management. Before September 2009, there were 58 or 60 children in the old schoolhouse, which was dilapidated and in need of repair or replacement. About half of those children were non-nationals.

The national school has moved to a new building. Other schools in area were giving priority to Roman Catholic children, and so their school rolls were full. After the new school opened under Church of Ireland management in September 2010, the number of children reached 240-250. Of these, 80% were Nigerian by birth or parentage, 10% were from Eastern Europe or other nationalities, and 10% were Irish-born. In the senior infants’ class, there were 31 children, of whom three were “white,” and of those, only one is Irish-born.

Were the parishioners withdrawing their children?

Is this an appropriate move by that Church of Ireland parish?

What do you think are the positive and negative aspects of this scenario?

And of course, what are the implications for teacher training or for raising awareness among parishioners?

Example 4:

How best can we use our Church buildings? The former Church of Ireland parish churches in Harold’s Cross and Leeson Park are now being used by the Russian Orthodox and Romanian Orthodox Churches, while Saint George’s and Saint Thomas’s, and the parish churches in Donnybrook, Swords and Tallaght are providing hospitality for various Syrian and Indian Orthodox communities.

How can we best use our church buildings to reflect the needs of the changing and changed Ireland?

Example 5: A closing conundrum:

Some images and perceptions still have to be dealt with.

How do we relate all this to:

● The decline of the Anglo-Irish gentry?
● The loss of the substantial Church of Ireland working class population in Dublin (and perhaps soon in Belfast too)?
● The changing ethos of formerly Church of Ireland hospitals?

Is there still a sense of “Protestant identity” – north and south?

The Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Michael Jackson, said some years ago that sectarianism within the Church of Ireland is alive not only in Northern Ireland, but also in parts of the Diocese of Dublin and Glendalough.

Do you think this is true?


Culture and Anglicanism: a broader canvas

Is there an Anglican culture?

Is there an Anglican culture? (Photomontage: Patrick Comerford)

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

These are the opening words of TS Eliot’s poem, The Waste Land (1922), which is regarded a one of the most important poems of the 20th century.

Throughout the poem we find allusions to The Book of Common Prayer, and Old Testament allusions, where the narrator finds himself in a summer drought that has transformed the land into a desert, who is referred to as the “Son of Man,” with references to Ezekiel, and to the Gospels.

TS Eliot ... ‘Ash Wednesday’ has been described as “the greatest achievement” of his poetry.”

TS Eliot (1888-1965), who died 50 years ago this year, was perhaps the most important poet in the English language in the 20th century. And he is one of the greatest examples of how Anglican spirituality, Anglican liturgy, Anglican memory and Anglican history have been conveyed through the generations through the arts, particularly through poetry, drama and fiction.

The calendars of Anglican churches throughout the world recalls the saintly memory of some of the great creative figures in Anglicanism over the generations.

For example, the calendar of the Church of England in Common Worship commemorates the poets George Herbert (27 February), Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy “Woodbine Willie” (8 March), John Donne (31 March), Christina Rossetti (27 April) and John Keble (14 July), and writers like Julian of Norwich (8 May), Evelyn Underhill (15 June), John Bunyan (30 August) and Samuel Johnson (13 December).

To that list we might, perhaps, add writers such as CS Lewis and Dorothy Sayers. Or if we were to think of writers who have been conduits of Anglican spirituality and Anglican thinking we might think of Anthony Trollope (1815-1882), author of the Chronicles of Barchester, the poet John Betjeman, or, today, writers like Margaret Craven, Susan Howatch and Catherine Fox.

The Canticles, sung by great cathedral choirs, often provide the first introduction for many to the riches of Anglican spirituality

Some of the greatest contributions from Anglicanism to our culture today is in the field of music ... choral settings for canticles such as Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis and for Evensong, the influence of the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols from the Chapel of King’s College, Cambridge, or the works of modern composers such as Edward Elgar, Hubert Parry, Vaughan Williams, Herbert Howells, Benjamin Britten, John Rutter and Stephen Cleobury.

King’s College, Cambridge ... the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols creates images Anglican culture that includes hymns, carols, Gothic architecture and the King James Version of the Bible (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

But poetry, literature, music, architecture ... these are areas that I hope you come to explore in your own time.


Week 3: (19 November 2015):

Church History

From the Reformation to the Act of Union
6: Church History, From the Act of Union to today.

(Revd Canon Professor) Patrick Comerford is Lecturer in Anglicanism, Liturgy and Church History, the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, and an Adjunct Assistant Professor, Trinity College, Dublin. This lecture was delivered in the Mater Dei Institute of Education, Dublin, on 29 October 2015. Mater Dei Institute of Education (MDI) is a College of Dublin City University (DCU).

Anglicanism 3 (MDI, 2015-2016): The Church
of Ireland and its place in Irish society today

Welcome to the Church of Ireland ... the West Door, Saint Canice’s Cathedral, Kilkenny (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Mater Dei Institute of Education,



Patrick Comerford,

Week 2, 29 October 2015, 1 p.m.

Introduction to the Church of Ireland and its place in Irish society today

1, The Church of Ireland and its place in Irish society today

2, Church, culture and being relevant:

Outline of module structure and content:

Introduction to this section of the module:

We visited Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, earlier this month [1 October 2015] as an introduction to Anglicanism.

Now, for two further sessions in the Anglicanism section of this module [today, 29 October 2015 and Thursday 19 November 2015], we are going to look at the story, traditions and theology of the Church of Ireland, which is the second largest church on this island, and to the story, traditions and theology of the wider Anglican Communion, of which the Church of Ireland is part, and which is the third largest Christian family of churches worldwide.

The Church of Ireland is the Church of Jonathan Swift, Lord Edward FitzGerald, Charles Stewart Parnell, Douglas Hyde and WB Yeats, and we shall look at that later this afternoon when we discuss the topic of Church, culture and identity.

We shall look at the history of the Church of Ireland, not merely as an exercise in gaining facts and figures for key events and personalities, but as a way of looking at the Church of Ireland’s sense of continuity with both the early church in Ireland and with the Anglican reformation, and in order to understand how Anglicanism sees itself as both Catholic and Reformed.

We shall explore the distinctive characteristics of Anglicanism, its liturgical and spiritual life, its history and culture, its unique emphasis in the way Anglicans do theology on ‘Scripture, Reason and Tradition,’ some of the present internal debates facing Anglicans, and the role of Anglicans in ecumenical dialogue, particularly through ARCIC (the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission).

Please note that all the course material, including my lecture notes, is available each Thursday at the same time as these lectures on my website: www.patrickcomerford.com.

Handout: outline for these two weeks; with summary of October visit to Christ Church Cathedral, reading list; and note on the websites.

Why we are looking at Anglicanism and the Church of Ireland:

Let us discuss where this section of the module fits into your degree programme.

You have opportunities too to learn about Methodism and Islam.

[Some questions]

What are your expectations from this section of the module?

What do you want to learn?

What questions do you bring?

How do you see this integrating with the rest of your learning?


The Church of Ireland and Protestants in Ireland today:

Think Time: Some questions to stimulate open discussion:

How many of you have been inside a Protestant Church?

How many of you have Protestant family connections?

How many of you have Protestant friends or neighbours you know well?

Can you name three famous Irish Protestants, living or dead?


A basic introduction to common ground and differences:

Many of you will have heard the phrase: “Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter”. It was used by politicians like Edmund Burke, and by the United Irishmen in 1795-1798 in the search for terminology that was inclusive.

Traditionally, the word Protestant was used at the time to describe the Church of Ireland and its members, while the word ‘Dissenter’ was used for Presbyterians, Baptists, Quakers and other Protestant groupings that stood outside the Church of Ireland.

Today, when we use the term Protestant, we normally use it to describe members of the Church of Ireland, and members of other smaller churches, including Presbyterians, Methodists, the Salvation Army and Baptists.

Does this term include Seventh-Day Adventists, Quakers and Unitarians?

There are questions about whether the term embraces some of the new Pentecostal or charismatic churches. It certainly does not include the Greek Orthodox, the Russian Orthodox, and so on.

But where do the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Christian Scientists and other post-Christian religious groupings fit?

Some members of the Church of Ireland may have had slight difficulties with the term ‘Protestant’ on two grounds:

1, It has political associations in Northern Ireland since 1969.

2, It has catch-all implications, for it can imply that the Church of Ireland has more in common with, say, Presbyterians that Roman Catholics. This may be true socially in parts of the Republic of Ireland, but not in many parts of Northern Ireland; and its theological implications depend on where you stand in the theological spectrum.

But since my childhood I have also heard three other terms that make many members of the Church of Ireland bristle, albeit to differing degrees: these terms are “non-Catholics,” “different faiths” and “minority religions.”

These terms have been used officially in recent commentaries and analyses by the Central Statistics Office of the 2011 census statistics.

Yes, members of the Church of Ireland are an identifiable minority. But we have more in common with, for example, our Roman Catholic neighbours, than, say, our Muslim, Jewish or Buddhist neighbours. So there is no such thing as “minority religions” that share some common ground.

The word religion is also used inappropriately here too. We can define Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism as religions. But the Church of Ireland is part of the Christian religion.

We do not hold to a separate set of religious beliefs that puts us in a separate category from Christianity.

We share the essentials of faith and church structure with Roman Catholics. We have the same Bible (Old Testament and New Testament), the same faith as expressed in the ‘Catholic Creeds’ (Nicene, Apostolic and Athanasian Creeds), the same sacraments, especially Baptism and the Eucharist; and the same ecclesiology or theological understanding of the nature and organisation of the church, with three orders of ministry – bishops, priests and deacons.

In addition, we share the same Celtic heritage, the history of the same Church that was one on this island for longer than it has been divided, the same understanding of mission, and the same hope for the future unity of the Church, the whole Church, the Church Universal, the Church Catholic.

Facts and figures (1):

First of all, let us dispel some myths:

Not all Protestants, and not all members of the Church of Ireland are members of the Orange institutions, not all are Masons, we do not reserve the “good jobs” for our family members, nor do we retain a secret loyalty to the Queen and the British monarchy.

Hand out: fact-sheet with statistics from census returns

Table 1:

The statistics for the Church of Ireland

There were 129,039 members of the Church of Ireland in April 2011, an increase of 6.4 per cent on 2006. This includes 13,667 primary school aged children and 8,809 of secondary school age. One in 10 Church of Ireland workers had occupations in agriculture and related activities.

We can compare with other churches and other faith groupings.

What do these figures mean? Do they represent decline or growth?

An analysis of the census figures by the Central Statistics Office was described in The Irish Times [9 October 2012] as providing us with a “Portrait of a population growing in diversity” in the Republic of Ireland.

Alison Healy’s report says that analysis paints a picture of “an increasingly diverse population with a significant growth in people who say they have no religion, while also recording the largest congregation of Catholics since records began.”

Just five religious affiliations were mentioned over half a century ago in the 1961 census, but the 2011 Census refers to more than 20 religious affiliations, and also has a category for “other religions,” which was ticked by 56,558 people.

This latest census shows that the proportion of the population who are [Roman] Catholic reached its lowest point last year at 84.2 per cent, but the number of [Roman] Catholics, 3.86 million people, is the highest since records began.

This is partly explained because the number of [Roman] Catholic immigrants living in the Republic of Ireland: 8 per cent of the [Roman] Catholic population is non-Irish last year, with Polish people the biggest group at 110,410 Catholics, followed by those born in the UK, at 49,761 – which may include many people born in Northern Ireland.

Of the 3.8 million [Roman] Catholics in the state, 92 per cent are Irish, while the remaining 8 per cent belong to a range of nationalities. Among the non-Irish, Poles are the biggest group (110,410), followed by the UK (49,761) and between them they accounted for over half of all non-Irish [Roman] Catholics.

Interestingly, there are also 64,798 divorced [Roman] Catholics –27,468 males and 37,330 females.

So, now that we have the statistics, what about the Church of Ireland?

As for the Church of Ireland, there are 129,039 members of the Church of Ireland, or 2.89 per cent of the population, an increase of 6.4 per cent in the five years since 2006 (118,948). This includes 13,667 primary school aged children and 8,809 of secondary school age.

One in 10 Church of Ireland members in the workforce has an occupation in agriculture and related activities. The figures show the Church of Ireland population has a much higher proportion involved in “Farming, Fishing and Forestry” (7.1 per cent) than the population as a whole (3.6 per cent).

Enniskerry, Co Wicklow, is the town with the highest percentage of Church of Ireland residents (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Co Wicklow remains the county with the largest Church of Ireland percentage of the overall population (6.7 per cent). Co Cavan is the second largest (5.8 per cent). Greystones, Co Wicklow, with 8.5 per cent Church of Ireland population, has been overtaken by Enniskerry, Co Wicklow, at 9.1 per cent, as the town with the highest percentage of Church of Ireland residents.

The overall number of people employed in “religious occupations” has declined, from 6,618 in 2006 to 5,817 in 2011. But, interestingly, the numbers of Church of Ireland members employed in “religious occupations” increased marginally, from 308 in 2006 to 316 in 2011.

Saint Maelruain’s Church, Tallaght … there are parishes with substantial working class backgrounds (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Despite the RTÉ soapbox image of the Church of Ireland, not all of us are plumy rectors or from the landed gentry. There are strong working class parishes in parts of Dublin, including Finglas, Irishtown and Tallaght. And the backbone of many rural parishes is the same as Roman Catholic parishes: small shopkeepers, small farmers ... people like your parents.

These census figures help to show that the popular perception of a Protestant decline has been arrested if not reversed. But, to be honest, we do not know why.

Among other Christians, there are now 45,223 Orthodox Christians in Ireland – more than double the number in 2006 (20,798) and more than four times the number recorded in 2002 (10,437).

The members of Apostolic and Pentecostal churches rose in numbers from 8,116 in 2006 to 14,043 in 2011. Over 60 per cent (8,486) have African ethnicity, while 18.1 per cent (2,546) are from “any other White background.”

There are 24,600 Presbyterians, up marginally on 2006 and continuing a pattern of increasing numbers since 2002 following long periods of decline up to 1991.

The other Christian groupings are the Methodists (6,842), Lutherans (5,683), Evangelicals (4,188), and Baptist (3,531). Other Christian groups include Quakers (925), Brethren (336), the Salvation Army, and so on.

On the fringes of Christianity, there are Jehovah’s Witness (6,149), Mormons (1,284), Christian Scientists, and so on.

In terms of ecumenical relations at an inter-church level, this is certainly challenging. In the past, we have traditionally spoken of the four main churches, meaning the [Roman] Catholics, the Church of Ireland, the Presbyterians and the Methodists. But the combined total of Presbyterians and Methodists at 31,442 is now eclipsed by the total number of Orthodox, and the Methodists have slipped behind the Apostolic and Pentecostal churches in numerical terms.

As for the non-Christian religions, there are 49,204 Muslims, making them numerically the third religious grouping in the state after [Roman] Catholics and the Church of Ireland, and marginally ahead of the Orthodox Christians.

Other religions in total account for 98,643 persons (2.1 per cent). The largest single religion in this group is Buddhist (8,703), and over one-third (37.9 per cent) are Irish by nationality. There are 1,984 Jewish people, up from 1,930 in 2006. The total of those with no religion, atheists and agnostics has increased more than four-fold in the 20-year period between 1991 and 2011 to 277,237 in 2011.

Facts and figures (2):


Map of the Dioceses of the Church Ireland


Compare these with the organisation and names of the Roman Catholic dioceses in Ireland.


How the Church of Ireland is organised at national (general synod), local (diocesan) and parish level.

Explain the role of cathedrals in the life of a diocese, and the role of the parish church in the life of the local parish.

Emphasise how the laity are involved at every level of Church government, from election of bishops, to general synod, to diocesan synods, to parish vestries and the nomination of local parish priests (rectors).

Some present pressing issues:

These census figures show that all churches and religious or faith groupings are living in a very different and a changing Ireland. We face new issues and challenges, changing social situations, and different expectations and demands.

In terms of cultural or ethnic background, 90,701 members of the Church of Ireland are of Irish nationality, and 30,464 are classified as non-Irish. The 14 largest minority backgrounds in this second group are:

UK, 21,474; Lithuania, 1,589; Nigeria, 1,534; Poland, 1,235; Other African, 590; Germany, 438; South Africa, 420; Latvia, 335; USA, 333; China, 303; India, 279; Australia, 239; Canada, 162; and Netherlands, 155. After that, it is down to double and single figures, but the Church of Ireland even has one member each from Bulgaria, Greece, Luxembourg and Malta.

The figures from the UK may represent many people born in Northern Ireland, and not just people from England.

There are more Lithuanians than Nigerians in the Church of Ireland. Yet, while the Church of Ireland has appointed a Nigerian priest to work with the African population, the Church has not yet appointed a priest to work with the large number from the Baltic and Nordic countries who are members of the Church of Ireland and who are our pastoral responsibility under the Porvoo Agreement.

What has this to say about our mission priorities?

There are 976 Church of Ireland members of the Travelling Community (3.3% of the total) – interestingly this is a higher proportion within the Church of Ireland than the proportion of the Church of Ireland population in the population as a whole (2.75 per cent), or the proportion of the Traveller community in Co Wexford as a whole (1,504, or 1.1 per cent), and more in number that the Travellers living in Co Carlow, Co Kilkenny or Co Wicklow, for example.

But what has this to say to the Church of Ireland? Travellers are more likely to be unemployed, to live in poor housing conditions or in mobile or temporary accommodation, to have no sewerage facilities, to have ended their education at primary school, and to suffer from ill-health and disabilities. Yet the number of Travellers is as large as many a Church of Ireland, and our neglect of Travellers in the Church of Ireland is as much an indictment of our attitude to social justice as it is a test of our pastoral values.

The previous census in 2006 showed that in the Republic of Ireland, the Church of Ireland population had increased by over 46 per cent in recent years, but may be on the decline in Northern Ireland, according to a study of the census figures by the social statistician Malcolm Macourt of Manchester University.

In his book, Counting the People of God? The Census of Population and the Church of Ireland, Malcolm Macourt shows, through a comparison of the 1991 and 2006 census returns, that the Church of Ireland population in the Republic of Ireland had grown from 82,840 to 121,229 – an increase of 46 per cent over a 15-year period when the general population rose by only 20 per cent.

On the other hand, the Church of Ireland has seen a drop in members in Northern Ireland, along with many other churches, including the Methodist Church. The 2011 UK census shows the Church of Ireland in Northern Ireland has 257,788 members, or 15.3 per cent of the population – which is almost 17,000 less than the 275,000 on the website.

The largest denomination in Northern Ireland is the Roman Catholic Church with 678,462 members or 40.2 per cent of the population, followed by the Presbyterian Church with 348,742 or 20.7 per cent.

So, it appears, the Church of Ireland is growing in the Republic, while it may be in decline in Northern Ireland, although in both places to be a member of the Church of Ireland remains being a member of a minority.

The Church of Ireland suffered a major decline in numbers during the 20th century, both in Northern Ireland, where around 65 per cent of its members live, and in the Republic of Ireland which contains upwards of 35 per cent.

However, the Church of Ireland in the Republic has experienced substantial growth in the last three national censuses; its membership is now back to the level it was over 60 years ago – albeit with fewer churches and fewer clergy.

Church membership increased by 8.7 per cent in the period 2002–2006, during which the population as a whole increased by only 8.2 per cent.

Some cautionary comments

Of course, Church membership, counted according to Church affiliation entered after each name in the census returns, does not equate with Church attendance, or active participation in the life of the Church.

Do census questions of religious affiliation receive “cultural answers”?

The statistics and census categories do not try to distinguish between:

● “being” Church of Ireland;
● “behaving” in a Church of Ireland way;
● believing what the Church of Ireland teaches.

Are we talking about:

● cultural attachment?
● religious label?
● tribal identity?
● faith?
● practice?

Is it possible that some people think that belonging is hereditary? After all, in many parts of Ireland we still talk about “Church of Ireland families.”

Indeed, there is evidence that the figures for membership of the Church of Ireland may have been exaggerated until the second half of the 19th century because people thought in terms of “Church of Ireland households.”

Some the ways membership may be defined when it comes to revising the Easter Vestry lists include:

● Being baptised
● Living within the parish boundaries
● Contributing regularly to the finances of the church
● Being an “accustomed” member of the parish – going to church regularly in a particular church.

But what if you have been baptised in another tradition?

What if you have been baptised but not confirmed?

If membership is defined by practice, how often do you have to go to Church to be a member?

Once a week?

Once a month?

Once a year?

And if you stop going to church, how long should pass before you stop being considered a member?

How often should you contribute financially?

Is there a minimum subscription?

And, of course, many may not sign the forms to have their names entered on the vestry roll – because they think they may move to another parish later on; because they do not feel at home where they are; because they are reluctant to give more financially; because they fear being asked to sit on the Select Vestry or become a churchwarden; because, because, because ... who knows?

Decline in the past:

The figures show the Church of Ireland population in what is now the Republic of Ireland as follows:

1921: 164,215
1991: 82,840
2006: 121,229
2011: 129,039

Why did membership of the Church of Ireland go into decline from 1861, and in particular, in what is now the Republic of Ireland, from 1921 until the last two census counts?

Some of the reasons offered include:

● The impact of the Ne Temere decree from 1908 onwards on “inter-Church” marriages.
● The “Great War” or World War I.
● Partition.
● the migration of civil servants, military personnel and administrators after independence.
● The Civil War.
● Different fertility rates – in 1936, for example, the fertility rate for Church of Ireland couples was 54.7 per cent, barely half that for Roman Catholic couples.

Facts and figures (3):

Lambeth Palace, the official London residence of the Archbishops of Canterbury since the 13th century, also gives its name to the Lambeth Conference (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Let us place the Church of Ireland within the global Anglican Communion:

The Anglican Episcopal family consists of an estimated 80 million Christians who are members of 44 different churches. These make up 34 provinces, four United Churches, and six other churches, spread across the globe.

Table 2:

So, the Church of Ireland is what we might call a “middle-ranking” member church of the Anglican Communion, in terms of both membership and numbers of bishops and dioceses.

Not all these churches owe their origins to the Church of England. The Episcopal Church (USA) derives its episcopal succession from the Scottish Episcopal Church; the Spanish Reformed Episcopal Church derives its episcopal succession from the Church of Ireland, and the Church of Ireland, through its missionaries, has had considerable influence in shaping Anglicanism around the world, from Canada to South Africa, to Kenya, to Australia, for example.

Many of the dioceses in these churches are small compared with the dioceses of the Church of Ireland. Others are vast: the Diocese in Europe alone, which is part of the Church of England, stretches from Morocco in North Africa to Vladivostok in Siberian East Asia; the recently retired Bishop of Europe, Dr Geoffrey Rowell, preached in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, three years ago [9 December 2012].

These churches have a variety of styles of worship, from very evangelical (or ‘Protestant’) to very ‘High Church’ or ‘Catholic.’

Some ordain women, others do not. The most recent elections of women as Anglican bishops have been in South India and in the Church of Ireland.

Anglican faces ... Nobel Peace Laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu; Archbishop Rowan Williams; British Prime Minister David Cameron; ex-President George Bush; poet TS Eliot; CS Lewis, author of the Narnia Chronicles; Queen Elizabeth II; Bono; Archbishop Justin Welby; the Palestinian politician and negotiator Hanan Ashrawi (Photo montage: Patrick Comerford)

Can you recognise these Anglicans or Episcopalians who have achieved some international fame or recognition in recent years?

Bishop Gene Robinson and Bishop Barbara Harris at his episcopal consecration

At times it is envious to look at personalities. But at other times, it is interesting to recall how the divisions within Anglicanism are symbolised by key individuals, such as Barbara Harris, the first woman to be consecrated a bishop in the Anglican Communion, or Gene Robinson whose consecration as a bishop has come to symbolise the divisions within Anglicanism on the questions surrounding sexuality.

But all of this helps to show that the Anglican Communion is broad and diverse, and that the word Anglican is not equivalent to English.

The compass rose, the symbol of the Anglican Communion, signifying its worldwide membership and decentralised organisation. It is surmounted by a bishop’s mitre, in the centre is the cross of Saint George, and the Greek motto is Ἡ ἀλήθεια ἐλευθερώσει ὑμᾶς, The truth will set you free (John 8: 32). It was designed by Canon Edward Nason West of the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, New York

Without a Pope, a curia or one central authority, how does a communion of churches as diverse as the Anglican Communion hold together?

The Anglican Communion is held together by what we call four instruments of communion, or four instruments of unity:

The Archbishop of Canterbury is the first of the four “Instruments of Communion” or instruments of unity in the Anglican Communion

Traditionally there have been four instruments of unity, now known as the “Instruments of Communion”:

● The Archbishop of Canterbury, who calls and convenes the Lambeth Conference and the Primates’ meetings. He is often referred to as a “focus of unity.”
● The Lambeth Conference, first called in 1867 and now meeting every 10 years – the last meeting was in Canterbury in 2008.
● The Anglican Consultative Council, formed in 1968. Its last meeting, ACC-15, was in Christchurch, New Zealand, three years ago from 27 October to 7 November 2012. The Church of Ireland members are the Revd Dr Maurice Elliott (Director of the Church of Ireland Theological Institute) and Mr Wilfred Baker (Diocese of Cork). ACC-16 is due to meet in Malawi in May 2016.
● The Primates’ Meeting, which takes place every two or three years. The last four meetings were in Dromantine, near Newry (2006), Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (February 2007), Alexandria, Egypt (February 2009), and the Emmaus Retreat Centre in Swords, Co Dublin (January 2011), when I was the chaplain at the meeting, and the current Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, then Dean of Liverpool, was one of the facilitators. Archbishop Welby has called the next meeting for January 2016.

The Anglican Primates at their meeting in Swords, Co Dublin, early in 2011 (Photograph: Orla Ryan/ACNS, 2011)

In addition, roles in maintaining Anglican unity are played by:

● The Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council, increasingly being referred to as the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion. This is a 14-member group (15, if the Archbishop of Canterbury is present). Seven members are elected by the ACC; five are members of the Primates’ Standing Committee; and the elected Chair and Vice-Chair of the ACC. Its defined function is to assist the Churches of the Anglican Communion in advancing the work of their mission worldwide.
● The secretary of the Anglican Communion Office, Bishop Josiah Atkins Idowu-Fearon. He succeeded Canon Keneth Kearon, who became Bishop of Limerick and Killaloe earlier this year [24 January 2015].
● The Mothers’ Union.
● The mission agencies, although they have no instrument of unity that holds them together.

The debates aimed at dealing with diversity and tension within the Anglican Communion and on the Anglican Covenant now include discussions about the instruments of communion or unity and the discipline needed to hold together the Anglican Communion and to deal with any breaches of the Covenant should it ever be fully ratified.

Of course, there are major questions about the continuing place within the Anglican Communion of those provinces or dioceses that fail to, or refuse to, sign up for the covenant.

As Mark Chapman says in The Anglican Covenant (p 2):

“Anyone who travels across the world will soon realise that in some ways Anglicanism is a bit like Microsoft or any other global brand – in that it covers most of the inhabited world, and is the third largest Christian denomination after Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, with perhaps 80 million members. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, may not be quite as well-known as Bill Gates, but I would guess that his beard and his eyebrows command a pretty high degree of international recognition.”

With Archbishop Rowan Williams at the Primates’ meeting in Dublin

The origins of the Anglican Communion

Mark Chapman says that in the days of the British Empire there was an obvious connection between Anglicanism and England … But while many of the member churches in the Anglican Communion claim a direct link with the Church of England, and see this as an important element in what defines them as Anglican, it is not always so, and has not always been so.

There are four Anglican churches on these islands:

● The Church of England,
● The Church of Ireland,
● The Scottish Episcopal Church; and
● The Church in Wales.

These four churches have distinctively different origins. The Church of Ireland, the Church in Wales and the Scottish Episcopal Church point out that the origins of Christianity in their countries predate the mission in England of Saint Augustine of Canterbury, who was sent from Rome in the year 597.

The Church of Ireland claims to be the successor to the ancient Celtic and Anglo-Norman churches. In the late mediaeval period, the churches in the dioceses in the ancient Viking cities of Ireland, including Dublin, Waterford, Cork and Limerick, sometimes continued to look to Canterbury for their episcopal orders and succession.

The reformation in Scotland was followed by turmoil over whether the reformed church should be episcopal or Presbyterian in its style of church government. After the Episcopal Church was disestablished in 1689, it suffered under penal laws in force from 1746-1792. This church developed its own (high) liturgy; it had strong links with the dissenting, high church Nonjurors of the Church of England, and did not adopt the 39 Articles until the end of the 18th century.

Historically, there have been strong links not only between the Church of Ireland and the Church of England, but there have also been strong links between the Church of Ireland and the Scottish Episcopal Church.

Explaining growth

How do we explain this phenomenon of growth in the Republic of Ireland?

Indeed, some rectors may be asking whether the data reflect a genuine increase.

Is it correct to presume that after a long decline ever since 1861, Irish Anglicanism is undergoing a period of growth?

Some of this growth is explained by immigration, but some is also due to members of the Roman Catholic Church transferring their membership to the Church of Ireland.

The reasons suggested for this increase include:

● The relaxation of the Ne Temere regulations that stipulated that children of Roman Catholic-Protestant marriages should be brought up as Roman Catholics.
● The decline in the fertility rate for Roman Catholics.
● The inward migration of English-born Anglicans – they may account for up to 80 per cent of immigrants who now declare themselves Anglicans in the census.
● The number of Anglican immigrants who have moved to Ireland recently from countries with a considerable Anglican population, such as Nigeria.

For example, in the Western counties that I referred to, counties that form the greater parts of the Diocese of Tuam and the Diocese of Limerick and Killaloe, migrants contributed just over half the increase noted in 2006 (4,800 out of 9,008), with three-quarters of those coming from the UK.

In the Midlands counties, two-thirds of the 39 per cent increase (3,620 out of 5,630) was attributed to immigrants, of whom two-thirds were from the United Kingdom.

What are the challenges?

Responding to the 2002 census figures, the then Archbishop of Dublin, Dr John Neill, said they did not come as a surprise. “When visiting parishes I have noticed an increase in many congregations, particularly in rural areas. I am very pleased to have it officially confirmed.”

However, he said the figures bring fresh challenges to the Church of Ireland.

He identified three important facts are reflected in the figures:

● In many parts of the Republic, and indeed overall, there are now many centres of growth in the Church of Ireland and the decline in the Church’s population has been halted.
● There are people claiming allegiance to the Church of Ireland who may not be in close touch with their local parishes. This reminds all members, clergy and lay alike, of our responsibility as a Church to minister to them.
● Fellow Anglicans from other Churches are making their home in Ireland, but while they are visible in local parishes, “we are not doing enough to make our churches more welcoming and open to cultures and worship other than our own.”


The Book of Common Prayer (Dublin: Columba, for the Church of Ireland, 2004).
Mark Chapman, Anglican Theology (London: T&T Clark, 2012).
Bruce Kaye, An Introduction to World Anglicanism (Cambridge: CUP, 2008).
William Marshall, Scripture, Tradition and Reason (Dublin: Columba, 2011).
Harold Miller, The Desire of our Soul (Dublin: Columba, 2004).
Samuel Wells, What Anglicans Believe (Norwich: Canterbury Press, 2011).

Additional reading:

Heather Crawford, Outside the Glow: Protestants and Irishness in Independent Ireland (Dublin: UCD Press, 2010).
Patrick Comerford, Embracing Difference (Dublin: Church of Ireland Publishing, 2007).
Guidelines for Interfaith Events & Dialogue (prepared by the Committee for Christian Unity and the House of Bishops of the Church of Ireland, Dublin: Church of Ireland Publishing, 2007).
Malcolm Macourt, Counting the People of God? The Census of Population and the Church of Ireland (Dublin: Church of Ireland Publishing, 2008).
A. McGrady (ed), Welcoming the Stranger: Practising hospitality in contemporary Ireland (Dublin: Veritas, 2006).
Richard O’Leary and Lan Li, Mainland Chinese Students and Immigrants in Ireland and their engagement with Christianity, Churches and Irish Society (Dublin: Agraphon Press, 2008).
Gordon Wynne, Pastoral Care in the Recession (Dublin: Church of Ireland Publishing: 2009).


4, Church, culture and being relevant:

(Revd Canon Professor) Patrick Comerford is Lecturer in Anglicanism, Liturgy and Church History, the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, and an Adjunct Assistant Professor, Trinity College, Dublin. This lecture was delivered in the Mater Dei Institute of Education, Dublin, on 29 October 2015. Mater Dei Institute of Education (MDI) is a College of Dublin City University (DCU).