13 February 2018

Lent, Holy Week and Easter
in the Rathkeale and
Kilnaughtin group of parishes

Burning Palm Crosses from Palm Sunday last year to prepare ashes for Ash Wednesday this week (Photograph: Barbara Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

At the weekend, we spent some in the Rectory burning Palm Crosses from Palm Sunday last year to prepare ashes for Ash Wednesday this week.

This is a traditional way of preparing ashes for Ash Wednesday, and this year we are marking Lent, Holy Week and Easter in the Rathkeale and Kilnaughtin Group of Parishes with traditional services between now and the beginning of Easter.

The Dean of Limerick, the Very Revd Niall Sloane, is visiting the parish next Sunday, the First Sunday in Lent, there will be services each evening in Holy Week, and there will be study groups in the Rectory on some Thursdays in Lent, using ‘All Thigs Are Possible,’ a study course produced by the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) exploring how faith in God can change the world.

There are two noteworthy innovations this year: the Good Friday service is being brought forward in the day to the more traditional time of 12 noon to 3 p.m. with a series of reflections on Christ’s journey to Calvary for the Three Hours.

Some people will want to drop into Saint Mary’s for shorter or longer times during these three hours, without feeling they have to stay for the full three hours. Parishioners are invited to drop in, stay a while, and take time to listen to the readings, reflection, pray, and wait a while in the silence.

There is a slight adjustment too to the times of the Easter Eucharists or Celebrations of the Holy Communion, with two celebrations on Saturday evening (8 p.m., Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale; 10 p.m., Castletown) and two on Easter morning (9.30 a.m., Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton; 11.30 a.m., Saint Brendan’s Church, Kilnaughtin, Tarbert).

Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world … the Byzantine-style crucifix by Laurence King (1907-1981) behind the freestanding altar in the crypt of Saint Mary le Bow on Cheapside in London (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Ash Wednesday, 14 February 2018:

8 p.m.: Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton:

Ash Wednesday Eucharist (Holy Communion 2) and the traditional imposition of ashes.

Readings: Joel 2: 1-2, 12-17; Psalm 51: 1-18; II Corinthians 5: 20b to 6: 10; Matthew 6: 1-6, 16-21.

Hymns: 535, 586.

Followed by tea/coffee in the Rectory.

Thursday 15 February 2018:

Parish study group, ‘All Things Are Possible’ (USPG), The Rectory, Askeaton.

Sunday 18 February 2018, the First Sunday in Lent:

9.30 a.m.: Morning Prayer, Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton.

11.30 a.m.: The Parish Eucharist (Holy Communion 2), Saint Brendan’s Church, Kilnaughtin, Tarbert.

Readings: Genesis 9: 8-17; Psalm 25: 1-9; I Peter 3: 18-22; Mark 1: 9-15.

Hymns: 207, 204, 652

On this Sunday, the Dean of Limerick, the Very Revd Niall Sloane, is presiding and preaching at both services, while Canon Patrick Comerford is presiding and preaching at the Eucharist in Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick, as the Canon Precentor.

Tuesday 20 February 2018:

7.30 p.m.: Askeaton and Castletown select vestries, meeting in The Rectory, Askeaton.

Thursday 22 February 2018:

Diocesan Council Meeting in Adare; no evening Lenten discussion group.

Sunday 25 February 2018, the Second Sunday in Lent:

9.30 a.m.: Morning Prayer, Castletown Church, Kilcornan.

11.30 a.m.: The Parish Eucharist (Holy Communion 2), Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale.

Readings: Genesis 17: 1-7, 15-16; Psalm 22: 23-31; Romans 4: 13-25; Mark 8: 31-38.

Hymns: 418, 599, 666.

Sunday 4 March 2018, the Third Sunday in Lent:

9.30 a.m.: The Parish Eucharist (Holy Communion), Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton.

11.30 a.m.: Morning Prayer, Saint Brendan’s Church, Kilnaughtin, Tarbert.

Readings: Exodus 20: 1-17; Psalm 19; I Corinthians 1: 18-25; John 2: 13-22.

Hymns: 645, 553, 330.

Sunday 11 March, the Fourth Sunday in Lent (Mothering Sunday):

9.30 a.m.: The Parish Eucharist (Holy Communion 2), Castletown Church, Kilcornan.

11.30 a.m.: Morning Prayer Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale.

Readings: Numbers 21: 4-9; Psalm 107: 1-3, 17-22; Ephesians 2: 1-10; John 3: 14-21.

Hymns: 630, 642, 484.

Saturday 17 March, Saint Patrick’s Day:

11 a.m.: The Eucharist (Holy Communion 2), Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton.

Readings: Tobit 13: 1b-7; Psalm 145: 1-13; II Corinthians 4: 1-12; John 4: 31-38.

Hymns: 321, 322, 611.

Sunday 18 March 2018, the Fifth Sunday in Lent:

9.30 a.m.: Morning Prayer, Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton.

11.30 a.m.: The Parish Eucharist (Holy Communion 2), Saint Brendan’s Church, Kilnaughtin, Tarbert.

Readings: Jeremiah 31: 31-34; Psalm 51: 1-13; Hebrews 5: 5-10; John 12: 20-33.

Hymns: 553, 652, 226.

The Crucifix on the Nave Altar in Lichfield Cathedral (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Holy Week:

Sunday 25 March 2018, Palm Sunday, the Sixth Sunday in Lent:

9.30 a.m.: Morning Prayer, Castletown Church, Kilcornan.

11.30 a.m.: The Parish Eucharist (Holy Communion 2), Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale.

Readings: Isaiah 50: 4-9a; Psalm 118: 1-2, 19-29; Philippians 2: 5-11; Mark 11: 1-11.

Hymns: 217, 134, 715.

Monday 26 March 2018, Monday in Holy Week:

8 p.m.: Evening Prayer, Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton.

Readings: Psalm 36: 5-11; Hebrews 9: 11-15; John 12: 1-11.

Hymn: 217.

Tuesday 27 March 2018, Tuesday in Holy Week:

8 p.m.: Late Evening Office, Saint Brendan’s Church, Kilnaughtin

Readings: Psalm 71: 1-14; John 12: 20-36.

Hymns: 66; 218.

Wednesday 28 March 2018, Wednesday in Holy Week:

8 p.m.: Compline, Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale.

Reading: John 13: 21-32.

Hymn: 247.

Thursday 29 March 2018, Maundy Thursday:

8 p.m.: the Maundy Eucharist, with Washing of the Feet, Castletown Church, Kilcornan.

Readings: Exodus 12: 1-4 (5-10), Psalm 116: 1, 10-17; I Corinthians 11: 23-26; John 13: 1-17, 31b-35.

Hymns: 431, 432, 515.

Friday 30 March 2018, Good Friday.

12 noon to 3 p.m.: The Three Hours, Christ’s journey with the Cross to Calvary, Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton.

The Crucifixion and the Harrowing of Hell, depicted in a chapel in Saint John’s Monastery, Tolleshunt Knights, Essex (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Saturday 31 March 2018, Easter Eve:
8 p.m.: The Easter Eucharist (Holy Communion 2), Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale.

10 p.m.: The Easter Eucharist (Holy Communion 2), Castletown Church, Kilcornan.

Readings: Exodus 14: 10-31, 15: 20-21; Psalm 114; Romans 6: 3-11; Mark 16: 1-8.

Hymns: 652, 258, 255.

Sunday 1 April 2018, Easter Day:

9.30 a.m.: The Easter Eucharist (Holy Communion 2), Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton.

11.30 a.m.: The Easter Eucharist (Holy Communion 2), Saint Brendan’s Church, Kilnaughtin, Tarbert.

Readings: Acts 10: 34-43; Psalm 118: 1-2, 14-24; I Corinthians 15: 1-11; John 20: 1-18.

Hymns: 286, 78, 263.

The Resurrection … a stained glass window in Saint Michael’s Church, Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Kilmurry Church on a mediaeval site
in Castletroy is now an arts centre

Kilmurry Church in Castletroy retains the atmosphere of its former rural setting (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Patrick Comerford

At the end of an interfaith walking tour of Limerick yesterday, which began at Limerick Islamic Cultural Centre, Dooradoyle, and included Jewish sites in the area around Wolfe Tone Street and the Jewish Cemetery in Castletroy, a small group of us ended the day visiting the former Church of Ireland parish church in Kilmurry.

This church, behind the Hurler’s Pub in Castletroy, seems to retain its once-rural setting, but is surrounded by modern housing estates.

It is said that a church has stood on this site in Kilmurry for more than 1,000 years. The original church may have been named after a Munster saint, probably Mo-chuaroch.

With the arrival of the Anglo-Normans, the dedication of the church was changed to Saint Mary Magdalen. Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick, was founded 850 years ago, in 1168, and King Donal O’Brien is said to have endowed the Cathedral Chapter in 1194. In the Foundation Deed, he gave for the sustenance of the Canons of the Cathedral ‘… all the dues of Cotheann outside the city, and the Churches of Saint Mary Magdalene and of Saint Martin, with everything pertaining to them …’

The Black Book of Limerick records Myler FitzHenry’s Inquisition of 1201 and identified the Church of Saint Mary Magdalene was the Church of Kilmurry.

In the adjacent townland of Kilbane, a holy well was dedicated to Saint Mary Magdalene. At one time, pilgrims visited the well the cure of sore eyes and other complaints. The Feast of Saint Mary Magdalene, the dedication of the Church and the date on which the well was visited all occurred on 22 July.

The de Burgo family were the early mediaeval landed proprietors in the parish of Kilmurry and the benefice of Saint Mary Magdalen was in their gift, giving them the right to appoint the priests of the parish. The de Burgos also founded Athissel Monastery, near Golden, Co Tipperary, and endowed the Prior with the right to present to the living of Kilmurry.

When Robert of Emy, became Bishop of Limerick in 1251, he disputed a nomination made by the Prior that year and began canonical proceedings against the Prior to recover the Church.

Pope Innocent IV intervened in 1253 commissioned the Bishop, Archdeacon and chapter of Cloyne to try to settle the dispute. No decision was reached after many months, and finally the judges ordered the temporary sequestration of Kilmurry. There was an appeal, and the case was due to go to the Bishops of Waterford and Ferns when an agreement was reached and Kilmurry was assigned to the Prior of Athissel.

For several generations disputes and appeals followed in rapid succession. In 1325, Ade de Gouly and Richard Pierpoint were involved in a suit about Kilmurry which had been held by Ade de Gouly’s great-grandfather, Regin Le Flemyng.

In 1474, John O’Griffin, a priest of Killaloe, bound himself to the Apostolic Chamber in the name of Dermod Ytynacanthy, priest of the Diocese of Limerick, for the fruits unduly received by the said Dermod for some years from the perpetual vicarage of the parochial church of Saint Mary Magdalene.

A commission appointed by King Charles I sat in Limerick from 28 to 30 July 1615 and reported that church in Kilmurry and its chancel were in ruins. A new church was built on the site of the old church.

In the Cromwellian era, under the Act for the Settlement, towns, church lands and tithes were all reserved by the Puritan Parliament for their own purposes, and all Church dignitaries were removed from office. The Parish of Kilmurry suffered with the rest, and the greater part of the lands were granted to the Hollowblades Company.

The church may have survived, only to become a total ruin during the Sieges of Limerick in 1690 and 1691, because of its proximity to the Williamite camp.

The Glebe House at Kilmurry was built in 1790, and in 1792, the parishes of Kilmurry and Derrygalvin were united when the Revd Jacques Ingram was Rector. Derrygalvin was a parish to the south of Kilmurry, but there are no remains of the church apart from some fragments in an old burial ground in Ballysimon.

Kilmurry Church was rebuilt in 1810-1812 on the site of the mediaeval church (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Another new church was built on the former site between 1810 and 1812, with a spire and steeple, with a grant of £580 from the Board of First Fruits. However, on the night of 15 and 16 December 1812, a heavy gale from the south-east damaged the church, and it was nearly destroyed by lightning.

The Rector of Kilmurry, the Revd Henry Ievers Ingram, a former army chaplain, repaired the church at his own expense.

When the Revd Charles Ward was appointed Rector of Kilmurry in 1861, he found the church in a sad state of repair, and the churchyard in a terrible condition. He closed the church for over a year while repairs were being carried out.

The Limerick Chronicle on 15 March 1866 announced the re-opening of the church, reporting ‘…it has been thoroughly fitted up inside, a new vestry room built, the aisles and side porch beautifully tiled, the entire edifice newly painted, so that in fact Kilmurry Church is now a fitting temple wherein to worship God. It is one of the neatest ecclesiastical structures in the dioceses.’

New windows were installed in 1872 and in further improvements the following year included a new East Window.

New windows were installed in Kilmurry Church in 1872 and the East Window was added in 1873 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

The Parish Church in Kilmurry now entered upon the most prosperous period of its history. Surrounded on all sides by the homes of wealthy merchants from Limerick, no appeal for funds ever went unanswered and subscriptions for repairs came from places as far away Ennis, London, Belfast, Cork, Edgbaston, and even a £5 note arrived from an ‘Old Buffer’ in the Madras Army.

For a time, nearby Plassy House was the home of Sir Guy Campbell and his wife Pamela, daughter of Lord Edward FitzGerald. The stone on the grave of their infant son in the churchyard reads:

To the Memory of
The Infant son of
Guy Campbell, Bart.
Pamela, his wife.
Died at Plassy
4th Feb. 1828

Another stone nearby, dated 1824, has sculpted representations of Christ’s betrayal and passion, including a cock, scourge and 30 pieces of silver.

The Ven Richard Sargint Sadlier Ross-Lewin (1849-1921), a native of Co Clare, was Rector of Kilmurry from 1886-1921 and Archdeacon of Limerick from 1919. His collections of poetry, including West Briton Poems and In Britain’s Need. His funeral took place from Saint Mary’s Cathedral to Killmurry Church.

A general appeal in 1950 raised £350 to repair the church tower, redecorate the interior and install electric light and heating.

The church was deconsecrated in recent years, and it became the home of Kilmurry Church Arts and Cultural Project, which is attached to the University of Limerick. The project aims to keep Kilmurry Church available and open to the community. The committee runs the space on a caretaker basis and is auditing the needs of local community groups.

We crossed the stile in east end of the rubble limestone boundary walls yesterday afternoon into the graveyard the surrounds this modest but picturesque former church.

This church has a three-bay nave, a three-stage square-plan pinnacled tower with a spire at the west end, and a single-bay, single-storey vestry at the east end. The tower is built of dressed limestone and the walls are built of rubble limestone. The nave has pointed arch openings with cut limestone surrounds and trefoil-headed lancet stained-glass windows.

The pointed arch opening at the east elevation has a limestone surround and Y-tracery stained glass windows.

The church was closed when we arrived. But it still retains most of its original form and massing, together with the remains of some important salient features and materials that enhance the quality of the site.

Kilmurry Church is now home to Kilmurry Church Arts and Cultural Project (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)