Monday, 14 November 2016

Another milestone is passed
at the 2.5 million mark

By a river bank in the heart of rural Leinster … There are more than 2.5 million people in Leinster, and this site had over 2.5 million visitors by early this morning (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

Patrick Comerford

I passed yet another milestone earlier this morning.

This blog passed the 2.5 million mark today, with over 2.5 million individual hits by early morning.

To put 2.5 million people into some way of understanding figures, this is about the same as the population of countries such as Jamaica or Namibia, more than the population of Paris but close to the population of cities such as Toronto, which is Canada’s largest city, Brooklyn or Chicago, or about the same as the population of the province of Leinster, according to the 2011 census in the Republic of Ireland.

Although Donald Trump still has to give details of his plans for deporting immigrants, between 2009 and 2015 the Obama administration removed more than 2.5 million people through immigration orders. This figure does not include the number of people who ‘self-deported,’ who were turned away, or who were returned to their home country at the border by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

On the other hand, I could point out that today there more than 2.5 million Syrian refugees in Turkey alone, that perhaps 2.5 million people are now living below the poverty line in Greece, or that there are almost 2.5 million Episcopalians in the United States.

When it comes to counting 2.5 million internet visitors, I could point out that about 2.5 million tourists from mainland Europe alone visit Ireland each year.

I have been blogging for nine years, since 10 November 2007. But there were only 13 postings that year. By 2008, it was 183, 272 in 2009, 322 in 2010, 449 in 2011, and 498 in 2012. That year, this blog passed a milestone on 14 July 2012, with over half a million visitors.

On 23 February 2013, this blog passed yet another milestone with over three quarters of a million visitors. And then, in the most pleasant of ways, on 28 September 2013, I became a millionaire – although not in currency. On that autumn day, this blog passed the one million reader mark. In all, there were 547 postings in 2013.

At the time, this blog had between 800 and 1,200 hits each day, and one summer day the number of visitors in one day passed 1,500.

The number of individual hits or readers reached the milestone of 1.5 million on 13 June 2014. So the climb to 1.5 million readers in less than nine months had been a steep one indeed. Part of this was explained by a large number of attempted cyber attacks on this site since 21 November 2013, when the number of daily hits passed the 2,000 mark, with 2,004 page-views that day. This also happened to be the day I was the guest speaker at a debate in the ‘Phil’ in Trinity College Dublin, speaking out for Edward Snowden, for freedom of information and for freedom of the media.

There were 510 postings in 2014, and it took another year before the number of hits or readers on this site reached 2 million on 11 June 2015. Part of that was caused by continuing attempted cyber-attacks on this site – with almost 3,700 hits on 20 May 2015, almost 2,700 on 3 June and over 4,300 on 11 June 2015.

By the end of 2015, I had 633 posts for the year, and the attempted attacks continued throughout this year. Last month alone, this site had a staggering 6,415 hits on 19 October 2016, and 5,868 hits on 26 October 2016.

Then, earlier today, the number of individual visitors to this site passed the 2.5 million mark. The present monthly average for visitors is about 40,000 to 45,000. With a steadily falling figure for newspaper sales, most provincial newspapers now refuse to give audited circulation figures, probably because of fear of losing important advertising revenue streams 40,000 to 45,000 is probably a higher figure than the circulation figures for most weekly newspapers reach in any given month.

To all of you who are genuine readers, thank you for your kind support, for your feedback and even if you are anonymous for your potential friendship.

Dean of leading US seminary
visits Christ Church Cathedral

The Very Revd Steven A Peay of Nashotah House Theological Seminary (right) with Canon Patrick Comerford and the Very Revd Dermot Dunne in Christ Church Cathedral

This half-page news report and photograph is published in the current edition of ‘Friends’ News’, Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin (Vol 34, No 2), p 19, and in the November edition of the ‘Church Review’ (Dublin and Glendalough).

Dean of leading US seminary
visits Christ Church Cathedral


A recent visitor to the cathedral was the Dean and President of Nashotah House Theological Seminary, the Very Revd Steven A Peay, who is also Professor of Homiletics and Church History at the seminary.

Dean Peay is a canon of Christ Church Church Cathedral in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and he his wife Julie who attended Choral Evensong in the cathedral. Dr Peay was staying in Dublin at the Church of Ireland Theological Institute.

Nashotah House is an Anglo-Catholic seminary in Nashotah, Wisconsin, about 50 km west of Milwaukee, situated within the Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee. The seminary was founded in 1842 and received its charter in 1847.

Nashotah House was founded by three young deacons of the Episcopal Church, James Lloyd Breck, William Adams, and John Henry Hobart, Jr, who were all recent graduates of the General Theological Seminary in New York City, at the request of Bishop Jackson Kemper. Gustaf Unonius was the first graduate.

From the beginning, Nashotah House was a centre for Anglo-Catholic theology. James Lloyd Breck, the first dean, was highly committed to the principles of the Oxford Movement. Later, noted professors such as James DeKoven brought Anglo-Catholic worship and traditions to Nashotah House.

Dean Peay’s undergraduate study of Church History led him to the Benedictine monastic life, and he entered at Saint Vincent Archabbey in Pennsylvania in 1977. He was ordained deacon in 1981 and priest in 1982. After ordination, he returned to Saint Vincent as Assistant Professor of Homiletics and Historical Theology. After leaving monastic life in 1994, he spent 15 years in parish work in Congregational churches in Wisconsin.

Dean Peay came to Nashotah House as adjunct professor of Church History in 2008 and was elected to the faculty in 2010. His orders were received in August 2010 and he is now a priest of the Episcopal Diocese of Albany.

Father Peay’s research has largely focused on the American religious experience, its movements and ecclesial expressions. While his earlier research centred on the history of preaching, Dr Peay has also worked on Puritanism and Congregationalism and at present is researching parallel movements for the recovery of the catholicity of the Church, including Mercersburg and Oxford.