Friday, 1 November 2019

Ashmore House typifies
the former Georgian
elegance of Cashel

Ashmore House on John Street, Cashel … an example of the town’s elegant Georgian domestic heritage (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Patrick Comerford

John Street, leading from the former Cashel Palace Hotel on Main Street, Cashel, to the Church of Ireland Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist and Saint Patrick’s Rock, is lined with elegant Georgian townhouses.

Once built as residential homes for the rising professional, middle class of Cashel at the height of town’s prosperity, when the Co Tipperary town had a rich cultural life, many of these Georgian townhouses have been converted into suites of offices and waiting rooms for doctors, lawyers and accountants, while others now offer chic or boutique Bed and Breakfast accommodation.

Ashmore House, on the corner of John Street and William Street, faces the entrance to the Cathedral, and its architectural style epitomises the architectural and cultural elegance of Cashel in the closing decades of the 18th and the opening decades of the 19th century, when Cashel still aspired to the status of a provincial city.

For more than a decade, Ashmore House has been welcoming guests for bed and breakfast accommodation in Cashel Town. It is the home of the Ryan family, although, sadly, Brendan Ryan of Ashmore House died earlier this year [25 July 2019].

Ashmore House is detached, five-bay, two-storey house over a half-basement, built on this corner-site ca 1830 and with extensive gardens at the rear, reached through an elliptical-headed carriage arch.

The façade of the house is enlivened by decorative features, including the frieze, quoins and render surrounds. Its form is enhanced by the sweeping steps and central doorway, whose decorative fanlight and elaborate doorcase make it a very notable feature on John Street.

The house is approached by flight of limestone steps with sweep walls and decorative cast-iron railings that continue to form the boundary of the basement area.

The elliptical-headed door opening has fluted render pilasters and an archivolt. The timber door has decorative panels and is flanked by a pair of decorative render pilasters and has a cornice. There is a frieze, a cornice and an ornate cobweb fanlight.

There are square-headed window openings with six-over-six pane timber sliding sash windows, limestone sills and render surrounds comprising decorative pilasters, consoles and cornices. The house has a pitched roof with rendered chimneystacks.

There are rendered walls with render quoins and a decorative render frieze with a pear-drop motif. An interesting feature north-west gable or William Street side of the house is the render and timber religious plaque showing the Virgin Mary and Christ Child, and with a render hood-moulding.

Ashmore House is a large and a prominently-sited house and it remains an imposing feature on the streetscape of Cashel close to the cathedral.

The plaque on the William Street gable of Ashmore House (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

‘O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine’

Christ and the Saints depicted in a dome in Saint Mark’s Basilica, Venice (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Patrick Comerford,

All Saints’ Day, 1 November 2019,

11 a.m.: The Eucharist (Holy Communion 2)

Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton, Co Limerick


Readings: Daniel 7: 1-3, 15-18; Psalm 149; Ephesians 1: 11-23; Luke 6: 20-31.

May I speak to you in the name of God, + Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

All Saints’ Day is one of the 12 ‘Principal Holy Days’ of the Church. This is one of those days, according to the Book of Common Prayer, when ‘it is fitting that the Holy Communion be celebrated in every cathedral and every parish church or in a church within a parochial union or group of parishes.’

In our first reading (Daniel 7: 1-3, 15-18), Daniel’s visions include one in which he sees beyond persecutions to a time when God shall rescue his people, and ‘the Most High shall possess the kingdom for ever – for ever and ever.’

In the Psalm (Psalm 149), the worshippers, the saints, are invited not only to sing but to dance and to make music on the tambourine and the lyre, so I am going to say something, in a few moments, about one of our hymns this morning.

In the Epistle reading (Ephesians 1: 11-23), Saint Paul is writing ‘to the saints who are … faithful in Christ Jesus,’ and reminds them that Christ has made them heirs to the kingdom of God.

In the Gospel reading (Luke 6: 20-31), Saint Luke gives us his version of the beatitudes, with a different emphasis that the way Saint Matthew lists them (see Matthew 5: 3-12).

Christ now speaks of four blessings or beatitudes and four parallel woes or warnings of the age to come. Some people are ‘blessed’ or ‘happy’ (μακάριος, makários) by being included in the Kingdom, but they are paired with those who are warned of coming woes:

● those who are poor (verse 20) and those who are rich now (verse 24)
● those who are hungry now (verse 21) and those who are full now (verse 25)
● those who weep now (verse 21) and those who laugh now (verse 25)
● those who are persecuted, or hated, excluded, reviled and defamed (verse 22) and those who are popular now (verse 26)

Who are the poor, the hungry, those who weep and those who are persecuted today? And do we see them as saints?

Our offertory hymn, ‘For all the saints, who from their labours rest’ (459), was written by Bishop William Walsham How (1823-1897) as a processional hymn for All Saints’ Day.

The saints recalled in this hymn are ordinary people in their weaknesses and their failings. In its original form, it had 11 verses, although three are omitted from most versions – the verses extolling ‘the glorious company of the Apostles,’ ‘the godly fellowship of the prophets’ and ‘the noble army of martyrs’ were inspired by the 1662 Book of Common Prayer version of the canticle Te Deum.

The tune Sine Nomine (‘Without Name,’ referring to the great multitude of unknown saints) was written for this hymn by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) while he was editing the English Hymnal (1906) with Percy Dearmer.

When he wrote this hymn, Walsh How was Rector of Whittington, Shropshire, a canon St Asaph Cathedral. He also spent time in Rome as chaplain of the Anglican Church there, All Saints’ Church, before returning to England.

While he was Bishop of Bedford, Walsham How became known as ‘the poor man’s bishop.’ He became the first Bishop of Wakefield, and died in Leenane, Co Mayo, in 1897 while he was on an Irish fishing holiday in Dulough.

The hymn vibrates with images from the Book of Revelation. The saints recalled by ‘the poor man’s bishop’ in this hymn are ordinary people who, in spite of their weaknesses and their failings, are able to respond in faith to Christ’s call to service and love, and who have endured the battle against the powers of evil and darkness.

In its original form, this hymn had 11 verses, although three are omitted from most versions: the verses extolling ‘the glorious company of the Apostles,’ ‘the godly fellowship of the prophets’ and ‘the noble army of martyrs’ were inspired by the 1662 Book of Common Prayer version of the canticle Te Deum.

But the heart of the hymn is in the stanza in which we sing about the unity of the Church in heaven and on earth, ‘knit together in one communion and fellowship, in the mystical body of … Christ our Lord.’ Despite our ‘feeble struggles’ we are united in Christ and with one another in one ‘blest communion’ and ‘fellowship divine.’

It is a hymn that celebrates that there among the saints are the ordinary people, the people who are blessed and happy in Saint Luke’s version of the Beatitudes this morning.

And so, + may all we think, say and do be to praise, honour and glory of God, + Father, Son and Holy Spirit, surrounded by the saints in glory.

All Saints depicted in the window in Saint Columb’s Cathedral, Derry, in memory of Canon Richard Babington (1837-1893) of All Saints’ Church, Clooney, Derry (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Luke 6: 20-31 (NRSVA):

20 Jesus looked up at his disciples and said:
‘Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 ‘Blessed are you who are hungry now,
for you will be filled.
‘Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
22 ‘Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. 23 Rejoice on that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.
24 ‘But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your consolation.
25 ‘Woe to you who are full now,
for you will be hungry.
‘Woe to you who are laughing now,
for you will mourn and weep.
26 ‘Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.

27 ‘But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.’

Saints and Martyrs … the ten martyrs of the 20th century above the West Door of Westminster Abbey (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Liturgical colour: White

Penitential Kyries:

Lord, you are gracious and compassionate.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

You are loving to all,
and your mercy is over all your creation.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Your faithful servants bless your name,
and speak of the glory of your kingdom.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

The Collect of the Day:

Almighty God,
you have knit together your elect
in one communion and fellowship
in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord:
Grant us grace so to follow your blessed saints
in all virtuous and godly living
that we may come to those inexpressible joys
that you have prepared for those who truly love you;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Introduction to the Peace:

We are fellow citizens with the saints
and the household of God,
through Christ our Lord,
who came and preached peace to those who were far off
and those who were near (Ephesians 2: 19, 17).

The Preface:

In the saints
you have given us an example of godly living,
that rejoicing in their fellowship,
we may run with perseverance the race that is set before us,
and with them receive the unfading crown of glory …

Post-Communion Prayer:

God, the source of all holiness
and giver of all good things:
May we who have shared at this table
as strangers and pilgrims here on earth
be welcomed with all your saints
to the heavenly feast on the day of your kingdom;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessing:

God give you grace
to share the inheritance of all his saints in glory …

The Berliner Dom in Berlin, popularly known as Berlin Cathedral … the images inside the dome illustrate the Beatitudes (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Hymns:
459: ‘For all the saints, who from their labours rest’ (CD 27)
468: ‘How shall I sing that majesty’ (CD 2, Church Hymnal discs)

All Saints’ Church, Rome … the Anglican church where the hymn writer Bishop William Walsham How was chaplain (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

Material from the Book of Common Prayer is copyright © 2004, Representative Body of the Church of Ireland.

‘The Back of the Pipe’:
a Victorian fountain on
Cashel’s Main Street

‘The Back of the Pipe’ on Main Street, Cashel, was erected by the Town Commissioners in 1842 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Patrick Comerford

One of the unique and eye-catching features on the streets of Cashel, Co Tipperary, is the 1840s fountain known as ‘The Back of the Pipe’ on Main Street.

The Victorian fountain was erected by the Town Commissioners of Cashel in 1842 to provide a supply of clean water to the town and was one of the first public works by the new Town Commissioners, set up by Act of Parliament in 1840 to replace the old corporation.

When the fountain at the Back of the Pipe was first erected near Moore Lane, it was designed to disgorge clean water through the mouths of the gargoyles or lions into a separate stone trough.

This half-octagonal-plan fountain, built of limestone, is attached to the south-west gable of a building. It has an artificial slate roof with a carved stone cornice and a pedimented date plaque (1842).

The form and function of the fountain adds variety to the streetscape of Cashel and the textures and materials provide further visual interest. It displays fine stone crafting, and the date plaque and cast-iron lion-heads add decorative interest.

The ‘Back of the Pipe’ has a dressed stone base with a cut stone plinth. A cut-stone string course separates the base from the upper snecked stone walling. The walling has roughly dressed stone pilasters and raised rectangular stone panels.

The cast-iron lion-head or gargoyle spouts at the base of the fountain were designed to feed water into the continuous trough reflecting the plan of fountain.

The fountain was restored in 1986, when it was converted into a decorative fountain.

Cashel also has an earlier well that gives its name to Ladyswell Street, and a fountain in the Hiberno-Romanesque style erected at Lower Gate Square by the people of Cashel in 1904 as a tribute to Dean Thomas Kinane (1835-1913).

One of the cast-iron lion-head or gargoyle spouts at the base of the fountain (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)