21 July 2018

‘As the deer pants for
the water’ where three
lakes meet in Killarney

On the water at the Middle Lake or Muckross Lake on Friday afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018; click on image for full-screen view)

Patrick Comerford

Tomorrow (22 July 2018) is both the Eighth Sunday after Trinity and the Feast of Saint Mary Magdalene.

The role of Saint Mary Magdalene as the Apostle to the Apostle rarely provides an opportunity for celebration, and so her commemoration has provided much inspiration for my preparation during the week for tomorrow’s sermons and services, which include Morning Prayer, Castletown Church, Co Limerick, at 9.30 and the Parish Eucharist in Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale, Co Limerick, at 11.30.

Among the hymns I have chosen is ‘As the deer pants for the water’ (Church Hymnal, 606). But little did I expect that this hymn was going to come to mind in a very delightful and surprising way for six of us yesterday as we visited the Lakes of Killarney.

We had stopped at Muckross House and were waiting for a small boat to take us across the Middle Lake. As we stood at the boathouse, a young deer came out of the trees, looked around, and despite our presence calmly made his way down to the water’s edge at the shore.

‘As the deer pants for the water’ … at the edges of Muckross Lake on Friday afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Muckross Lake is also known as the Middle Lake or Torc Lake, and is just south of Lough Leane. The two lakes are separated by a small peninsula, crossed by a stone arched bridge called Brickeen Bridge.

This is Ireland’s deepest lake, reaching to 75 metres (246 ft) in parts. But the recent dry weather has lowered water levels and provided spectacular scenery as we crossed the lake in the afternoon.

We stopped briefly at the tea rooms at Dinis Cottage and enjoyed the scenery at the Meeting of the waters, where the three lakes of Killarney – the Upper Lake, the Middle Lake or Muckross Lake, and the Lower Lake (Lough Leane) – all come together.

This spot is a little haven of tranquility that can only be reached by foot or bicycle, and we stayed a little while at the Old Weir Bridge and Dinis Cottage before returning to Muckross House.


Almighty God,
whose Son restored Mary Magdalene
to health of mind and body
and called her to be a witness to his resurrection:
Forgive our sins and heal us by your grace,
that we may serve you in the power of his risen life;
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Post-Communion Prayer:

God of life and love,
whose risen Son called Mary Magdalene by name
and sent her to tell of his resurrection to his apostles:
In your mercy, help us,
who have been united with him in this Eucharist,
to proclaim the good news
that he is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.


God give you the grace
to share in the inheritance of Saint Mary Magdalene and of his saints in glory:


288, Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son

606, As the deer pants for the water

592, O Love that will not let me go

At the Meeting of the Waters … where three lakes meet in Killarney (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

New places of honour for
former bishops of Limerick
in Saint Mary’s Cathedral

Bishop William Gore … his portrait now hangs in the Chapter Room in Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Patrick Comerford

The portraits of many former Deans and Bishops of Limerick have been given new places in Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick, in recent weeks. Some have come from the RCB Library in Dublin, and others have been found new places of prominence in the Chapter Room and the dean’s office.

William Gore, an 18th-century of Limerick (1772-1784), was a son of the Very Revd William Gore (1697-1731), who had been Dean of Clogher (1716-1724) and Dean of Down (1724-1731), and Honora Prittie of Dunally, Co Tipperary, whose family are buried in Kilmore Church, near Silvermines, Co Tipperary.

Bishop Gore was the Dean of Cashel (1736-1758), Bishop of Clonfert and Kilmacduagh (1758-1762), and Bishop of Elphin (1762-1772), before becoming Bishop of Limerick, Ardfert and Aghadoe in 1772.

In 1783, he commissioned building a Manor House at Old Conna, near Bray, Co Wicklow. Old Conna House, or Old Connaught House, was rebuilt for Phineas Ryall in 1860 by Lanyon and Lynn. It later became an hotel, a private school and is now part of a private and gated development of apartments.

Bishop Gore died on 25 February 1784.

Bishop Thomas Bunbury … outspoken during the attacks on the Jews of Limerick in 1904)

Thomas Bunbury (1830-1907) was Dean of Limerick before becoming Bishop of Limerick (1899-1907). He was born in 1830 at Shandrum, Co Cork, and educated at Trinity College, Dublin. He was ordained in 1854, and was a curate in Clonfert and then Mallow, Co Cork, before becoming the Rector of Croom, Co Cork.

He was Dean of Limerick from 1872 to 1899, when he became Bishop of Limerick, Ardfert and Aghadoe. As a Church leader in Limerick, Bishop Bunbury was singular in his strong condemnation of the violence against the Jews of Limerick in 1904. But on 20 April 1904, the Mayor and Corporation passed a motion: ‘We condemn and repudiate in the most emphatic manner the attack made by Dr Bunbury on the good name of the city … which we consider unjustifiable and uncalled for.’

In sectarian tones, the Munster News warned: ‘Let Bishop Bunbury behave himself. The days are gone when a Papist, ridden over by a Protestant fox-hunter, should crawl hat-in-hand to beg his honour’s pardon for having been in the horse’s way.’

Bishop Bunbury died in office on 19 January 1907.

Bishop Harry Vere White … worked for SPG for many years (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Harry Vere White (1853-1941) was Bishop of Limerick at the time of Irish Independence and the formation of the Irish Free State in the early 20th century.

He was born in Dublin on 1853, and educated at Trinity College Dublin (MA, DD). He was ordained in 1878, and for five years was a missionary with SPG (now USPG) in New Zealand (1880-1885). After he returned to Ireland, he was the organising secretary of SPG (1894-1900), when he lived at 3 Belgrave Road, Rathmines, later known as Overseas House when I worked there in 2002-2006.

He was the Vicar of Saint Bartholomew’s Church, Ballsbridge (1905-1918), and a canon of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin (1902-1918). At Saint Bartholomew’s, he conducted the marriage of Philip Henry Comerford and Mary Harvey on 5 October 1907. Their children included the Revd Philip Henry Comerford (1909-2006), a missionary in Paraguay who later moved to Canada and was the father of Archdeacon Henry Comerford.

Later, Harry Vere White was Archdeacon of Dublin (1917-1918) and Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin (1918-1921). He then became Bishop of Limerick, Ardfert and Aghadoe in 1921. He retired in 1933, and died on 20 January 1941. He wrote many pamphlets and small books, including a biography of Bishop John Jebb of Limerick and a short history of SPG in Ireland.

Bishop Evelyn Charles Hodges … worked in education for many years (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Like Bishop William Gore and Bishop Harry Vere White, Bishop Evelyn Charles Hodges (1887-1980) also came from a clerical family.

He was born at Towlerton House, Co Carlow, the son of the Rev. WH Hodges. He was educated at Rathmines School and Trinity College Dublin (MA, DD), and was ordained in 1911. He was a curate in Drumcondra and North Strand (1911-1914) and then in Rathmines (1914-1917), and then spent seven years as Diocesan Inspector of Schools for Dublin, Glendalough and Kildare (1917-1924). He returned to Rathmines as Rector (1924-1927).

From 1928 to 1943 he was the Principal of the Church of Ireland Training College, later the Church of Ireland College of Education (1928-1942). He was also a canon of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin (1934-1943).

He became the Bishop of Limerick, Ardfert and Aghadoe in 1943, and after he retired in 1960 he spent some years as priest-in-charge of Saint Andrew’s Church, Dublin (1965-1971). He died on 18 March 1980.

Donald Arthur Richard Caird, Bishop of Limerick (1970-1976), died last year (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Donald Arthur Richard Caird (1925-2017), who died last year, was Bishop of Limerick (1970-1976).

He was born in Dublin and educated at Wesley College and He was a curate in Saint Mark’s, Dundela (1950-1953) and Chaplain and an Assistant Master at Portora Royal School, Enniskillen (1953-1957), and then lecturer in philosophy at Saint David’s University College, Lampeter. He returned to Dublin as Rector of Rathmichael (1960-1969), when he also lectured at the Church of Ireland Theological College, Dublin.

For a brief time, he was Dean of Saint Canice’s Cathedral, Kilkenny (1969-1970), before becoming Bishop of Limerick, Ardfert and Aghadoe. When he was translated to the Diocese of Meath and Kildare in 1976, the Diocese of Limerick was amalgamated with the Diocese of Killaloe.

He was Archbishop of Dublin from 1985 until he retired in 1996. He died on 1 June 2017 at the age of 91.

The portraits of these five bishops have been joined by two portraits of Dean Lucius O’Brien. An eighth portrait has yet to be identified.

A portrait of an unidentified bishop or dean in the chapter room in Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)