18 May 2019

Two windows in Derry
Cathedral remembering
the friends of children

The window commemorating Dean Hugh Usher Tighe in Saint Columb’s Cathedral, Derry (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Patrick Comerford

The best-known stained-glass window in Saint Columb’s Cathedral, Derry, is perhaps the window commemorating the hymnwriter Cecil Frances Alexander, wife of William Alexander, Bishop of Derry, illustrating three of her hymns: ‘Once in Royal David’s City,’ ‘There is a green hill far away,’ and ‘The golden gates are lifted up.’

But if Mrs Alexander is remembered as the author of children’s hymns, visitors should not overlook the children’s window in the south aisle in memory of the Very Revd Hugh Usher Tighe, Dean of Derry, who died in 1874.

The window commemorating Dean Tighe was created by the stained-glass artist Charles Alexander Gibbs (1825-1877) of Marylebone, London.

The four lights refer to four images of childhood and faith (from left):

● Samuel’s calling (I Samuel 3: 15-19).

● Christ blessing little children (Mark 10: 13-16).

● Christ welcomes the little children: Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me’ (Mark 9: 36-37).

●Saint Paul’s description of childhood faith (II Timothy 3: 15).

Hugh Usher Tighe (1802-1874) was born in Castletowndevlin, Co Westmeath, on 27 February 1802, the second son of Robert Sterne Tighe of Mitchelstown, Co Cork.

He was educated at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and he was ordained deacon in 1826 and priest in 1827. That year, he also married Anne Florence McClintock, daughter of John McClintock of Drumcar, Co Louth, MP for Athlone and later for Co Louth, and Lady Elizabeth McClintock. Her grandfather was the Earl of Clancarty.

Tighe inherited the Carrick estate in Co Westmeath in 1833.

At first, he was the curate of Longbridge Deverill. He then became the Rector of Clonmore, Co Louth, and a Chaplain to Thomas de Grey, 2nd Earl de Grey, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.

He went on to become Dean of the Chapel Royal, Dublin (1843-1860), Dean of Leighlin (1850-1854), Dean of Ardagh (1854-1858), and Dean of Derry (1860-1874). He was still Dean of Derry when he died at Newtownstewart, Co Tyrone, between Strabane and Omagh, on 11 August 1874.

The window commemorating Cecil Frances Alexander in Saint Columb’s Cathedral, Derry (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

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