12 May 2018

Patrick’s Fold and the
site of Saint Patrick’s
first church in Armagh

Patrick’s Fold … said to stand on the site of Saint Patrick’s first church in Armagh (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Patrick Comerford

Walking to and from the General Synod of the Church of Ireland each day, walking between the Charlemont Arms Hotel and the City of Armagh Hotel, I passed along English Street and Scotch Street and by Patrick’s Fold, which is said to stand on the site of Saint Patrick’s first church in Armagh.

In early rentals Scotch Street was known as Ferta Street, which was derived from the Irish Teampail na Ferta, said to be Saint Patrick’s first church in Armagh.

At one time, this street was also known as Newry Street, as this was the main route out of Armagh to the south-east.

The name Scotch Street, which also appears as Scottish Street in 1661, probably derives from the number of settlers from Scotland who lived in this area by the mid-17th century.

Today, the buildings lining Scotch Street are all shop premises, with the visible and noticeable exception of Patrick’s Fold, which is set back from the street front, with a colourful garden at the front with two lawns.

Patrick’s Fold, formerly the Bank of Ireland, is said to stand on the site of Saint Patrick’s Teampail na Ferta.

The house was built in 1811-1812 and was designed by Francis Johnson as part of Leonard Dobbin’s planned commercial development. At the time, Dobbin was the Sovereign or Mayor of Armagh, and the agent for the Bank of Ireland. Later, he was MP for Armagh from 1833 to 1838.

This is a very handsome three-bay, three-storey house with a basement. It is built in ashlar stonework, with blocked, chamfered quoins, a fine cornice and a blocking course. At either side there are screen walls with doorways, each with an oculus over the door. There are sash windows with glazing bars and gabled, stone chimney stacks.

The house has a splendid doorway with sidelights, four engaged Tuscan columns and a segmented fanlight with an integral lantern. The flight of steps leading up to the doorway fans out at each side, with railings to the basement area.

The side walls of the adjoining houses form part of the composition, and there are finely carved urns adorning the gables.

The building was converted by GP and RH Bell in 1979-1981 for sheltered accommodation and it is well maintained. In 2013, it was named as ‘Best-Kept Sheltered Housing Area.’

Patrick’s Fold … designed by Francis Johnson in 1811-1812 for Leonard Dobbin (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Ecumenical guests and
divisive debates at the
General Synod in Armagh

With ecumenical guests from the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Revd Patrick Burke, editor of the ‘Diocesan Magazine’ (Cashel, Ferns and Ossory) at the General Synod in Armagh

Patrick Comerford

The General Synod of the Church of Ireland is coming to an is coming to an end in Armagh and I hope to be back in Askeaton, Co Limerick, later this evening.

One of my pleasant tasks at the General Synod this year, as in many previous years, was being one of the hosts for the ecumenical guests from other churches.

This week, I was asked to be the host for three groups of special guests: the Revd Sarah Groves of the Moravian Church of Great Britain and Ireland; Ms Miriam Weibye, Church Relations Officer, the Scottish Episcopal Church; and the Revd Father Rouies Anba Bishoy of the Coptic Orthodox Church, and Dr Sherif Kelada.

The other ecumenical guests this week included Archbishop Emanon Martin of Armagh, Bishop Brendan Leahy of Limerick and Mr Tommy Burns from the Roman Catholic Church; the Very Revd Frank Sellar and Mrs Sadie Somerville from the Presbyterian Church in Ireland; the Revd Lawrence Graham and Mr Kenneth Twyble from the Methodist Church in Ireland; Dr Nicola Brady of the Irish Council of Churches, and the Revd Brian Anderson, the new President of the Irish Council of Churches; and Bishop Dirk Jan Schoon of Haarlem, representing the International Bishops’ Conference of the Old Catholic Church.

Sometimes I wonder what they make of our way of debating, and how we often fail to listen to each other. But that is an ‘Anglican-centric’ way of looking at ecumenism. They probably care little, but in equal measure probably wonder what we think of their internal debates.

In all our debates these days, as we worry about maintaining our own unity and at times have been less than charitable about our differences as we feigned hurt about those we differed with in the debates at General Synod, I wondered if all these were ‘first world’ problems that we had the luxury to wallow in while representatives from the Coptic Orthodox Church know at first hand what it is truly like to suffer as a minority in Egypt.

‘Thy Kingdom Come’ (2):
Thanks, Luke 17: 11-19

Patrick Comerford

‘Thy Kingdom Come,’ which was launched at the General Synod of the Church of Ireland in Armagh this week by the two Archbishops of Armagh, is an invitation to pray with Christians around the world during the nine days between Ascension and Pentecost, using art and scripture.

‘Changed Lives → Changing Lives’ is the guiding theme this year as people are invited to pray afresh for the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

In doing so, people are joining thousands of others around the world as part of ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ – an initiative encouraging people to explore through prayer how they might courageously witness to God’s life-changing work.

As the Apostles prayed together following Christ’s Ascension, waiting for the Holy Spirit to come at Pentecost, we too are invited to wait and pray today. They prayed in obedience, trusting that the way ahead would be revealed. May we, like the disciples, pray anticipating that the Spirit will show us new ways of living and loving. ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ asks that we may we be open to where God leads us, to be the change God wants to see in the world – whatever that might require.

As God is at work in us, he is also at work through us changing the lives of others. Please join with us as we pray together: ‘Come Holy Spirit: thy kingdom come’ and may our waiting and praying this Novena open our hearts afresh to God’s possibilities.

The ‘Pocket Prayers’ for 2018 for these nine days invite readers each day to:

LOOK at images and meet the characters caught up in life-changing moments, where the future is shaped by their encounter with God. They suggest letting those images reveal new possibilities for God’s Word to transform us and others.

WAIT prayerfully for the Holy Spirit. Pause, creating a space into which God can speak.

READ the Bible text, allow it to enliven your heart, stir your soul and spark your imagination.

LISTEN for insight through idea or image, through recollection or curiosity. Let that Word dwell within you, as you listen for yourself and your community.

RESPOND to the prompting of the Word, with an action that leads to life-giving change. Let the words of the collect gather up and bless these moments of prayerful waiting upon God, so his Kingdom might be seen more fully in you.

Saturday 12 May: Thanks

LOOK… and be curious.

WAIT … with prayerful expectation.

Come Holy Spirit: Thy Kingdom Come.

READ … the text with an open mind.

On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’ When he saw them, he said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, ‘Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’ Then he said to him, ‘Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.’ (Luke 17: 11-19)

LISTEN … for a word with a willing heart.

RESPOND … with prayer and action.

Oh God of pity and of the pitiful, help us to recognise ourselves in this story and to weigh the gratitude in our hearts. As we throw ourselves at your feet, heal us, and be a wellspring of thankfulness rising up in us for change and transformation. Amen.