08 October 2018

Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord

The Trinitarian Abbey Church, the Roman Catholic parish church in Adare, Co Limerick, seen from the Dunraven Arms Hotel this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Patrick Comerford

I am in Adare, Co Limerick, for a few days this week, taking part in the annual residential clergy conference for priests from the Diocese of Limerick, Killaloe and Ardfert and the Diocese of Tuam, Killaloe and Ardfert.

Earlier in the day, I was taken on a short journey through the grounds of Adare Manor, which owes much of its original architecture to the whims and designs of the great Gothic Revival architect AWN Pugin.

But I am staying at the Dunraven Arms Hotel, which takes its name from the Earls of Dunraven, who lived at Adare Manor for generations.

It could be said that the Dunraven Arms is located ecumenically, situated between the two parish churches here. From my room I can see the former Trinitarian Abbey church. It was restored in 1811, and is now the Roman Catholic parish church of Adare. But on the other side of the hotel, I have an equal view of Saint Nicholas’s Church, the Church of Ireland parish church of Adare.

At the end of our evening prayer at this evening’s session we prayed the traditional Third Collect at Evening Prayer in the Book of Common Prayer:

Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord;
and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night;
for the love of thy only Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Saint Nicholas’s Church, the Church of Ireland parish church in Adare, Co Limerick, seen from the Dunraven Arms Hotel this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Rathkeale and Kilnaughtin
notes in ‘Newslink’ October 2018

Canon Patrick Comerford lifts the Sam Maguire Cup in Saint Molua’s Church, Ardagh, during the celebrations marking the 150th anniversary of the discovery of the Ardagh Chalice

Canon Patrick Comerford lifts the Sam Maguire Cup in Saint Molua’s Church, Ardagh, during the celebrations marking the 150th anniversary of the discovery of the ArdaghChalice

Rathkeale and Kilnaughtin Group of Parishes

Rathkeale, Askeaton, Castletown and Kilnaughtin

Priest-in-Charge: The Revd Canon Patrick Comerford,
The Rectory, Askeaton, Co Limerick.

Autumn has brought with it the return to school, harvest thanksgiving services, meetings of select vestries, school boards and the graveyard committee, and a new cycle of diocesan committees and church meetings.

Sunday School in Rathkeale:

Shirley Sheahan began new Sunday School activities in in Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale, on Sunday 9 September. All children in the Group of Parishes are welcome at Sunday School in Rathkeale on the second and fourth Sunday of the month.

Ministry Mission and Hospitality:

The clergy and readers in the diocese are being encouraged to find ways of working closer together in Ministry, Mission and Hospitality, in identifiable areas or districts. Already, a number of meetings have taken place in both the bishop’s house and the dean’s office. Priests and readers in Co Limerick are being invited to a ‘Ministry Lunch’ in the Rectory in Askeaton on Wednesday 14 November.

Ardagh Chalice:

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the discovery of the Ardagh Chalice and the Ardagh Hoard in West Limerick, one of the most significant archaeological finds in Ireland in the 19th century. The Ardagh Chalice is one of the greatest treasures of the early Irish Church. It represents a high point in early mediaeval craftsmanship and its craftsmanship can be compared with the Tara Brooch and the Derrynaflan Paten.

The chalice is part of a hoard of objects discovered in Rearasta Fort on the edges of Ardagh in late September 1868 by Paddy Flanagan and Jim Quinn while they were digging potatoes in the fort.

The hoard consisted of two chalices and four brooches. Each brooch was up to 30 cm in length and three had elaborate Celtic designs; the fourth was called a thistle brooch.

As part of Culture Night on 21 September, the 150th anniversary of the discovery of the Ardagh Chalice was celebrated in Ardagh with a parade from Rerasta Fort to Ardagh Church, and the official opening of the Ardagh Festival by Minister Pat O’Donovan at Ardagh Community Centre.

Greek fire:

The funds raised at the joint group service and parish summer barbeque have now reached €350, which is going to help the victims of the recent fires in the Athens region in Greece.

Ministry training and education:

The next Ministry Training and Education day takes place in the Rectory, Askeaton, on Monday 15 October, looking at how to plan for Remembrance Day on this year’s centenary of the end of World War I.

October services:

Friday 4 October: 8 p.m., Group Harvest Thanksgiving Service, Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale, followed by Harvest Auction in Rathkeale No 2 National School.

Sunday 7 October (Trinity XIX): 9.30, the Eucharist (Holy Communion), Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton; 11.30, Morning Prayer, Saint Brendan’s Church, Kilnaughtin, Tarbert.

Sunday 14 October (Trinity XX): 9.30, the Eucharist (Holy Communion), Castletown Church; 11.30, Morning Prayer, Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale (with Sunday School).

Sunday 21 October (Trinity XXI): 9.30, Morning Prayer, Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton; 11.30, the Eucharist (Holy Communion), Saint Brendan’s Church, Kilnaughtin, Tarbert; 2.30, Holy Baptism (Beatrice Susan Langford), Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton.

Sunday 28 October (V before Advent; Saint Simon and Saint Jude): 9.30 a.m., Morning Prayer, Castletown Church; 11.30, the Parish Eucharist (Holy Communion 2), Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale (with Sunday School).

Thursday 1 November (All Saints’ Day): 11 a.m., the Eucharist (Holy Communion), Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton.

Saints days in October: 11, Saint Philip the Deacon; 18, Saint Luke; 23, Saint James, the Brother of our Lord; 28, Saint Simon and Saint Jude.

Advance notice:

Remembrance Sunday Service: Sunday 11 November, 11 a.m., Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale. This is a united service for the group of parishes, with a time of silence and commemoration at 11 minutes past 11, on 11 November.

The Ardagh Chalice on display in the National Museum in Kildare Street, Dublin (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Westward Ho and memories of
a boy’s swashbuckling books

The Westward Ho restaurant-bar in Mungret, Co Limerick (photographs: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

On the road from Limerick to Askeaton, Mungret is an attractive village that is quickly being absorbed into the city as a suburb. In recent months, Westward Ho, the only pub is Mungret has been refurbished and reopened as a restaurant bar.

For many people on their way from Limerick heading west to the port at Foynes or the beach at Ballybunion, the name Westward Ho! seems very apposite. But the name is also a reminder of Westward Ho!, the historical novel by Charles Kingsley published in 1855.

I still remember first reading Westward Ho! when I was a boy of 8. I still have a clear memory of the books I read that summer: my first attempted reading of the King James Version of the Bible, as well as Westward Ho! by Charles Kingsley, Kidnapped and Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, and Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, which was attractive to a boy of my age not because of its religious fervour but because its ghoulish illustrations had a certain hold over a boy’s imagination.

Westward Ho!was published eight years before The Water-Babies (1863), and ten years before Hereward the Wake (1865). If my parents were ever aware of Kingsley’s alleged racism, they never alluded to it, and they never stopped us reading his books. Kingsley wrote to his wife from Ireland in 1860: ‘I am haunted by the human chimpanzees I saw along that hundred miles of horrible country ... to see white chimpanzees is dreadful; if they were black one would not see it so much, but their skins, except where tanned by exposure, are as white as ours.’ These anti-Irish tirades continue in The Water-Babies, with references to ‘pleasant lies’ told by ‘a poor Paddy’ who ‘knows no better.’ In Hereward the Wake, the hero finds refuge in Ireland among the Vikings, who are civilised and live in cities like Dublin, Waterford and Limerick, while the native Irish are deceitful, dishonest and treacherous.

But my childhood excitement at reading Westward Ho! still returns when I pass through Mungret, and I have retained a respect for many of the values of the Revd Charles Kingsley (1819-1875), an Anglican priest, professor, social reformer, historian and novelist. He is particularly associated with Christian Socialism, working men’s colleges, and labour co-operatives. He was a friend of prominent Victorians such as Charles Darwin, John Ruskin, Thomas Carlyle, Charles Dickens and Alfred Lord Tennyson, and was one of the first public figures to welcome Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species in 1859.

Westward Ho! is based on the adventures of an Elizabethan corsair and is based a real-life on the events surrounding the Spanish Armada and an expedition in 1595. A prominent theme is the 16th-century fear of Roman Catholics, and the book describes repeatedly an English view of the worst excesses of Spanish Jesuits and the Inquisition.

When I pass Westward Ho in Mungret, I also think of Kingsley’s Irish-born friend and neighbour in Cambridge, the Revd Professor FJA Hort. When Westward Ho! was about to be published, Kingsley sent the printer’s proofs to Fenton Hort, perhaps seeking not just a second opinion but approval too. Hort was particularly engaged with the descriptions of the Desmond rebellion in Limerick and Kerry, including references to Hort’s ancestors in the FitzMaurice family and the destruction of Carrigafoyle Castle on the Kerry coast, between Ballybunion and Tarbert. Hort could hardly suppress his excitement and wrote eagerly to his friend the bibliophile Henry Bradshaw (1831-1886), a master at Saint Columba’s College, Rathfarnham (1854-1856). Hort told Bradshaw he had ‘just been reading in the sheets of Kingsley’s Westward Ho!, a capital description of the attempt of the Spaniards to effect a lodgement in Munster in 1580.’

Rev Charles Kingsley

Westward Ho!

Revd Prof FJA Hort

This full-page feature is published in the October 2018 edition of ‘Newslink,’ the diocesan magazine of the United Dioceses of Limerick, Killaloe and Ardfert [p 20]