Wednesday, 30 June 2021

Glengarriff and the three
churches that bookend
the village at each end

The main street of Glengarriff is lined with colourful bars, restaurants, shops and cafés (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Patrick Comerford

The small town of Glengarriff in West Cork, the gateway to the Beara Peninsula and the access point to Garinish Island, is colourful in the summer sunshine.

Two of us had arrived there from Skibbereen and Bantry on our road trip or ‘staycation’ in Co Kerry and West Cork for the third of three two-night stays on the Wild Atlantic Ways, with plans for a boat trip to Garinish Island, with its microclimate and Italian-style gardens, and to visit the Blue Pool.

It is truly a one-street town, but it is a colourful street, lined with colourful bars, restaurants, shops and cafés. And the town is ‘bookended’ by churches, with the Sacred Heart Church and the former Roman Catholic parish church standing opposite each other at the west end, and Holy Trinity Church, the former Church of Ireland parish church, on a bend on the road at the east end of the town.

The Sacred Heart Church, a fine Gothic Revival style church, was consecrated in 1902 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

The Roman Catholic parish church, the Sacred Heart Church, is a fine Gothic Revival style church and it is representative of the style of Catholic parish churches built at the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The church was built in 1902, and its plan and decorative detail demonstrate a move away from the earlier, more modest style of churches built in the first part of the 19th century. The church shows fine craftsmanship and attention to detail, seen in the masonry work and the variety of windows filled with stained glass.

The church is oriented from north-east to south-west. It is a cruciform-plan, gable-fronted, double-height Gothic Revival church, with a four-bay nave, single-bay transepts, a single-bay chancel at the north-east or liturgical east end, and porches at the transepts and the sacristy.

Inside the Sacred Heart Church, looking towards the liturgical west (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

There is a carved stone bellcote at the south-west or liturgical west end, and the other architectural features include buttresses and quoins.

The paired pointed arch openings in the nave have quarry glazing and stained-glass windows with block-and-start limestone surrounds and hood moulding with squared stops.

The chancel at the east end has a pointed arch stained glass window, with a cinquefoil rose window above.

At the front, there are double-leaf timber battened doors with decorative cast-iron strap hinges.

The first parish church in Glengarriff was built ca 1839 on a site donated by the Marquess of Lansdowne (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Across the street, on the south side of the road, Glengarriff Hall was built ca 1839 as the first parish church in Glengarriff on a site given by Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice (1780-1863) 3rd Marquess of Lansdowne, who also donated £50 towards the building costs.

Lord Lansdowne, who owned extensive estate throughout Co Kerry, was the landlord in neighbouring Kenmare, and at the time he was a member of Lord Melbourne’s Cabinet as Lord President of the Council, an office he held on three occasions. A distinguished statesman, he also served as Home Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer.

This church was plain in style and modest in scale. It was deconsecrated in 1902 when a new parish church was built across the road, and is now used as a community hall. Despite extensions, it retains its character, particularly in the windows.

Holy Trinity Church, Glengarriff, was designed by Welland and Gillespie in the 1860s (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Holy Trinity Church, the former Church of Ireland parish church in Glengarriff, was designed by Welland and Gillespie, architects to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and built in 1862-1863.

Tourism was developing rapidly in Victorian Glengarriff. But, until the 1860s, there was no Church of Ireland parish church in the village. Sunday services were held at 12.30 in the Eccles Hotel, with celebrations of the Holy Communion six times a year, and an average of five communicants.

The curate, the Revd Vincent Lamb, nominated jointly by the neighbouring Vicar of Kilmocomoge (Bantry) in the Diocese of Cork, and Vicar of Kilcaskin (Ardrigoole) in the Diocese of Ross.

The idea of building a new church was proposed by the Archdeacon of Cork, the Ven SM Kyle, who wanted to build a church in this romantic locality, and he collected the greater portion of the funds.

The site for a new church was given by Richard White (1800-1868), 2nd Earl of Bantry, on 13 April 1861, and Glengarriff was formed as a district curacy on 31 July 1861, by the Vicars of Kilcaskin and Kilmocomoge, who agreed to pay the Curate an annual stipend of £35.

The new church, built in 1862-1863, was consecrated by Bishop John Gregg on 25 June 1863. The Revd Fred Garrett was the last Rector of Glengarriff before the church closed.

The church had a three-bay nave, a lower single-bay chancel at the east end, a vestry and an entrance porch. The church appears to retain many of its original features, including the high standard of masonry work and the attention, with a variety of windows, and a bell tower and slated spire.

In recent years, it was in use as café. But when I tried to visit this former church during that two-day stay in Glengarriff the site was closed off to visitors and the growth in surrounding trees made it difficult to photograph the building.

The Blue Pool is one of the many colour attractions of Glengarriff (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Praying in Ordinary Time 2021:
32, Monastery of Saint Anastasia, Crete

The Monastery of Saint Anastasia the Roman amid the olive groves on the slopes above Tsesmes and Rethymnon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

During this time in the Church Calendar known as Ordinary Time, I am taking some time each morning to reflect in these ways:

1, photographs of a church or place of worship;

2, the day’s Gospel reading;

3, a prayer from the prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel).

My photographs this morning (30 June 2021) are from the Monastery of Saint Anastasia, near Rethymnon, continuing a week of photographs from monasteries in Crete.

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the start of the Greek War of Independence, and earlier in this series morning reflections, I have also visited Arkadi Monastery (1 May 2021) and the former Monastery of Saint Catherine of Mount Sinai in Iraklion (8 May 2021).

The main church in the Monastery of Saint Anastasia looks largely unfinished (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

From the neighbouring villages of Platanias and Tsesmes, to the east of Rethymnon, the road leads on to the old road to the Venetian village of Maroulas. Another sign points to the road to the Monastery of Saint Anastasia the Roman.

The sign promises it is only a 1.5 km walk, but when I have walked along the mountain track to the monastery in summer sunshine, through the olive groves and the rustic landscape, the distance seems more like 3 km.

The monastery is off the beaten track, down a side road off a minor road. No tourist buses or guided tours ever reach there, and in its simplicity and its stillness I have found a spiritual welcome.

The Monastery of Saint Anastasia the Roman is the first monastery in Greece dedicated to this saint. It was founded in 2008 by a visionary monk from Rethymnon, Father Vassilis, who had spent some time on Mount Athos, and it has been a full monastery – albeit a monastery with only one monk – since July 2009.

The large katholikon or main monastery church is still unfished. Outside, the concrete walls have still not been rendered or plastered. Inside there are no frescoes on the walls and the icon screen has a few simple, modern icons.

The stark simplicity adds to the spiritual atmosphere of the church. Beside it is smaller chapel of Saint Kosmas the Aetolian.

Father Vassilis worked away quietly in the gardens as moved around freely admiring his flowers and plants. There was no museum, no souvenir shop, and nothing to detract from the tranquility and the peace we had found.

But who is Saint Anastasia the Roman?

This word anastasis is Greek for resurrection, and there are three Saint Anastasias in the Lives of the Saints, all three from prominent and famous families and who confessed their faith in Rome.

The first was forced by her parents to marry a non-Christian man. He died a few days later, she lived the rest of her life as an ascetic, giving all her property to the poor. She was martyred by fire during the reign of Diocletian, and is commemorated on 22 December.

The second Saint Anastasia never married and also died a martyr’s death during the reign of Decius and she is remembered on 12 October.

The third Saint Anastasia of Rome, and the one to whom the monastery is dedicated, was a nun, martyred under the Roman emperor Valerian ca 250, and she is remembered on 29 October.

At times, I have been the only visitor to the monastery. The road back down to Tsesmes seems easier and shorter. It is 6 or 7 km round trip. Back in Tsesmes, it is worth stopping for lunch in Pagona’s Bar.

Inside, the unfinished appearance gives the monastery church a stark and simple spirituality (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Matthew 8: 28-34 (NRSVA):

28 When he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs coming out of the tombs met him. They were so fierce that no one could pass that way. 29 Suddenly they shouted, ‘What have you to do with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?’ 30 Now a large herd of swine was feeding at some distance from them. 31 The demons begged him, ‘If you cast us out, send us into the herd of swine.’ 32 And he said to them, ‘Go!’ So they came out and entered the swine; and suddenly, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and perished in the water. 33 The swineherds ran off, and on going into the town, they told the whole story about what had happened to the demoniacs. 34 Then the whole town came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their neighbourhood.

An icon of Saint Anastasia the Roman in the main monastery church (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary:

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (30 June 2021) invites us to pray:

We pray for the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA) and their work in bringing together diverse communities across the continent. CAPA is an effective advocate for interreligious and intercultural dialogue, as well as a powerful campaigner against human trafficking and gender-based violence.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

In the gardens and cloisters of the Monastery of Saint Anastasia the Roman (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

The suburbs of Rethymnon and the Mediterranean Sea spread out below the Monastery of Saint Anastasia (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)