Monday, 23 May 2016

Faithful stewards of the mysteries of God at
the Chrism Eucharist on Maundy Thursday

Oils for the sick and dying, the oil for signing with the Cross at Baptism and the oil of chrism at the Chrism Eucharist in Christ Church Cathedral this morning (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

Patrick Comerford

I was in Bantry Bay, Co Cork, last weekend, including attending the Eucharist in the parish church in Bantry on Trinity Sunday [22 May 2016].

Of course, Trinity Sunday is the Patronal Festival of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, which is formally known as the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity.

I missed the annual lunch of the Friends of Christ Cathedral, which took place in the crypt after the Cathedral Eucharist, and the annual general meeting of the Friends, which took place in the Chapter Room afterwards.

Lesley Rue has produced a new edition of the
Friends News, for this season (Vol 34, No 1, Spring/Summer 2016). This half-page report is published on page 10:

Faithful stewards of the mysteries of God at
the Chrism Eucharist on Maundy Thursday


The Maundy Eucharist in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, is a solemn part of the Holy Week liturgies during Holy Week each year.

At this Chrism Eucharist, the Archbishop, the priests and deacons and the lay ministers of the dioceses of Dublin and Glendalough renew their commitments to ministry made at their consecration, ordination or commissioning.

I was ordained priest in 2001 and ordained deacon in 2000, and had also been commissioned a diocesan reader before that in 1994. Each year, the Chrism Eucharist is a reminder of the solemn vows and commitments made on those occasions.

Archbishop: At your ordination to the priesthood, you took authority to watch over and care for God’s people, to absolve and bless them in his name, to proclaim the gospel of salvation, and to administer the sacraments of his New Covenant. Will you continue as faithful stewards of the mysteries of God, preaching the gospel of Christ, and ministering his holy sacraments?

Priests: By the help of God, I will.

During the Foot Washing this year, as Archbishop Michael Jackson washed the feet of representatives of each order or expression of ministry, the Consort of the Cathedral Choir sang Ubi Caritas, from the Latin liturgy of Maundy Thursday, to a setting by Maurice Duruflé. The setting was the Mass for Four Voices by William Byrd (1540-1623).

Later the Archbishop consecrated the oil for the sick and dying, presented by a member of the Diocesan Ministry of Healing Committee, the oil for signing with the Cross at Baptism, presented by a deacon, and the oil of chrism presented by a priest of the diocese.

Water for the washing of feet at the Chrism Eucharist in Christ Church Cathedral this morning (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

‘Casting down their golden crowns
upon the glassy sea’ in Bantry

The parish church of Saint Brendan the Navigator in the heart of Bantry, Co Cork (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

Patrick Comerford

Sunday was Trinity Sunday [22 May 2016], and in the morning I attended the Eucharist in Saint Brendan’s Church, Bantry, the Church of Ireland parish church on Wolfe Tone Square, the large market square in the heart of Bantry, Co Cork, where I spent the weekend.

The celebrant and preacher was Canon Paul Willoghby, and he was assisted by the Revd David Compton, who is a deacon intern in the parish.

In front of the church, a large, modern statue of Saint Brendan looks out towards Whiddy Island and Bantry Bay. On the opposite side of the quays stand the former estate office and the entrances to Bantry House and the estate of the White family who were instrumental in building Saint Brendan’s Church 200 years ago.

But before this church was built, Christian worship took place in two other centres in the parish, going back to 1411. Indeed, the parish retains its ancient Irish name, Kilmocomogue, recalling the church built by the founding saint, Saint Coman, in Lisheen, near the local village of Kealkill.

In 1704, by an Act of Parliament, the church centre was transferred to Bantry, which was a burgeoning town, and a new church was built in a place that was previously known in Irish as Garraidhe Ui Mhurchadha or “Murphy’s Garden.” The ruins of the earlier church can still be seen in Church Road, alongside an ancient burial ground.

But the humble, lowly church did not fit into the grand plans the White family had for the town that was developing at the gates of their estate. Richard White (1767-1851), who later became 1st Earl of Bantry, was the grandson of Richard White, who had made an immense fortune through his work as a lawyer, and the family owned extensive estates in Co Cork.

In 1797, White led a force against the French armada that arrived in Bantry Bay. For his role in this, he was given the title of Baron Bantry in 1797. In 1800, he became Viscount Bantry, and in 1816 he was made Earl of Bantry and Viscount Beerhaven, both titles in the Peerage of Ireland.

While he was still Viscount Bantry, Richard White signed a deed of conveyance for the site of the present church on 23 October 1815. A few months later, an Act of Council, ratified by the Lord Lieutenant on 13 July 1816, gave permission to build the new church.

Inside the Church of Ireland parish church in Bantry, Co Cork (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

A new, fine Regency Gothic church was designed by the English architect Henry Edward Kendall (1776-1875). Kendall was a student of Thomas Leverton and possibly of John Nash. His wide-ranging styles included Greek, Italian and Tudor revival.

Kendall’s son, Henry Edward Kendall Jr (1805-1875), was also an architect. For a while, the two ran a practice together, and their notable works included the Esplanade and Tunnel in Kemp Town, Brighton, dating from 1828-1830. Lewis Cubitt was among those who worked at the practice before setting up on his own. Both Kendalls were among the co-founders of what became the Royal Institute of British Architects.

Kendall designed many civic buildings, including workhouses, hospitals and schools. In 1832, he won the 100 guinea prize for his Gothic design for Kensal Green Cemetery and his Italianate design was runner-up. Despite this, his designs were overlooked in favour of a Greek revival design by John Griffith.

Within two decades, Kendall’s church in Bantry was described by Samuel Lewis in 1837 his Topographical Dictionary of Ireland as “a neat edifice in the early English style, with a lofty tower.”

The town clock on the church was first rung on 1 January 1900 to herald the dawning of the 20th century.

The parish of Bantry was united with the parish of Durrus in 1984 to form the Kilmocomogue Union of Parishes.

On 3 October 1999, to mark the arrival of the millennium in 2000, Bantry Parish Church was rededicated in honour of Saint Brendan the Navigator, the patron saint of all who travel.

There is a carving of Saint Brendan the Navigator by David Semper of Glengariiff in the porch. Outside, on Wolfe Tone Square, the statue of Saint Brendan looks out towards Bantry Bay and Whiddy Island and out to the Atlantic. The statue was unveiled by Jack Lynch as Taoiseach in 1969, to mark the opening of the oil terminal on Whiddy Island. It looks as though it was inspired, on a less extravagant scale, by the statue to the great Portuguese navigators and explorers in the Padrão dos Descobrimentos in Lisbon.

The newly laid-out town square was opened 20 years ago on 17 September 1996 by Brendan Howlin, then the Minister for the Environment and elected the new leader of the Labour Party last Friday [20 May 2016].

Trinity Sunday in Bantry Parish Church (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

Today, Bantry Parish describes itself as “an inclusive parish” and a member of the network of Inclusive Churches:

“We believe in inclusive Church – church which does not discriminate, on any level, on grounds of economic power, gender, mental health, physical ability, race or sexuality. We believe in Church which welcomes and serves all people in the name of Jesus Christ; which is scripturally faithful; which seeks to proclaim the Gospel afresh for each generation; and which, in the power of the Holy Spirit, allows all people to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Jesus Christ.”

The parish also says: “We are firmly committed to the teaching of Jesus Christ in the wonderful parable of the ‘mustard tree’. We believe that all are welcome to shelter under its branches and, in like manner, all are welcome at the Lord’s Table.”

There are plaques and monuments recalling the White family of Bantry House throughout the church (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

The Bantry titles died out with the death of the fourth Earl of Bantry in 1891, although Bantry House remains in the hands of the White family. Throughout the church, the walls are decorated with murals and monuments that are reminders of the close connections between the parish and the White family of Bantry House.

Our opening hymn for Trinity Sunday yesterday was Regnald Heber’s Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty (321). I thought of Saint Brendan the Navigator and the many who sailed out from and into Bantry Bay as we sang those words:

Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore thee,
casting down their golden crowns upon the glassy sea …

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty,
all thy works shall praise thy name in earth and sky and sea …


Saint Brendan the Navigator, in front of the parish church, looks out to Bantry Bay, Whiddy Island and out to the Atlantic (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)