14 July 2023

Daily prayers in Ordinary Time
with USPG: (47) 14 July 2023

Trinity Presbyterian Church, Cork, is set back from Summerhill North on top of a grassy bank (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

We are in Ordinary Time in the Church Calendar, and this week began with the Fifth Sunday after Trinity (9 July 2023). The calendar of the Church of England in Common Worship today gives thanks for the life and work of John Keble, Priest, Tractarian, Poet (1866).

Before this day begins, I am taking some time this morning for prayer, reading and reflection.

Over these weeks after Trinity Sunday, I have been reflecting each morning in these ways:

1, Looking at relevant images or stained glass window in a church, chapel or cathedral I know;

2, the Gospel reading of the day in the Church of England lectionary;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

Scenes inside Trinity Presbyterian Church, Cork (Photographs: Trinity Presbyterian Church)

Trinity Presbyterian Church, Little William Street, Cork:

Trinity Presbyterian Church in Cork is on Little William Street, Summerhill North. The church is set back from Summerhill North on top of a grassy bank. Reputedly the site was once used as grazing grounds by drovers, staying at the Grosvenor Inn in MacCurtain Street and bringing cattle to the docks.

The first Presbyterian congregation in Cork dated back to 1675 when a meeting house was built in Prince’s Street. This was rebuilt in 1717, and for many years it has been Cork Unitarian Church.

The Prince’s Street congregation split in the 1840s, between the ‘New Light’ or Non-Subscribing Presbyterians and the ‘Old Light’ or Trinitarian and Calvinist Presbyterians, who formed a new congregation.

A new Presbyterian church was commissioned by the new congregation and was designed by John Tarring (1806-1875), the architect of many non-conformist church buildings in England. The builder was Richardson of London, and the work was completed in 1861.

The church is the only known work in Ireland by Tarring, who has been styled ‘the Gilbert Scott of the Dissenters.’ Tarring was born at Holbeton, near Plymouth, and worked as a carpenter and a plasterer before studying to become an architect. He worked principally in London, where his practice was known variously as ‘John Tarring, Esq,’ ‘Tarring & Jones’ and ‘J Tarring & Son.’

Tarring was the first architect to design a spire for a nonconformist church in London, and this is thought to have influenced the Baptists and Congregationalists to begin building churches in the Gothic style.

Most of his commissions were nonconformist churches, although he had one remodelling commission for an Anglican chapel. He rebuilt George Whitefield’s chapel in Tottenham Court Road in 1856 after fire destroyed the previous chapel. Tarring’s chapel had a dome 38 metres high. It was closed in 1889 due to subsidence and was demolished later.

Tarring’s other churches in London included the Westminster Chapel, Buckingham Gate (1841), and Chelsea Congregational Church (1858-1860). He also restored Combermere Abbey, Cheshire, and Thornton Hall, Buckinghamshire. He built a large mansion block in an Italianate style at Queen’s Gate, Hyde Park, in 1860.

He returned to Devon and died at Torquay on 27 December 1875. He is buried at Kensal Green Cemetery, London. His son Frederick William Tarring (1847-1925) continued his practice.

Tarring designed Trinity Presbyterian Church, Cork, in a Gothic style with a distinctive spire. It was built in 1860-1861 on a cruciform plan with shallow transepts, broach spire, buttresses and large windows.

The interior has a gallery to the rear, where a pipe organ was installed by the Cork firm of Magahy in 1904, and seats for a choir. The rest of the interior, with a central pulpit, no central aisle and no pillars, reflects Tarring’s work on nonconformist churches and chapels in England. Other features include the three stained-glass windows that represent the Trinity.

The spire has a distinctive kink and legend says the workers did this deliberately to spite the architect … or that it was an accident caused by their drunkenness. There is also a gruesome legend that the architect hanged himself in the tower … but this too is pure fiction.

The disused schoolhouse at the church gates is an integral part of the Trinity Church complex. This small, single-storey school was built in 1865, using the same materials and quality of building found in the church.

Most of the original features have been retained, including the cast-iron railings, gates and windows. There are gabled projecting wings, a low copper sheeted spire, limestone walls with cut stone details, gate piers, and small pane leaded windows.

Members of the congregation try to have Trinity Presbyterian Church open for visitors each weekday morning, with guided tours on Wednesday mornings.

The Revd Richie Cronin from Donoughmore, Co Cork, who became the minister of Trinity Presbyterian Church, Cork, in 2018, was the first Cork-born person to become the minister of the church since it opened in 1861.

A Trinitarian symbol in a window in Trinity Presbyterian Church, Cork (Photograph: Trinity Presbyterian Church)

Mark 10: 16-23 (NRSVA):

[Jesus said:] 16 ‘See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. 19 When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; 20 for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; 22 and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.’

The disused schoolhouse at the gates of Trinity Presbyterian Church, Cork (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Today’s Prayer:

The theme this week in ‘Pray With the World Church,’ the Prayer Diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel), is ‘Fighting Climate Change Appeal – Hermani’s story’. This theme was introduced on Sunday.

Find out more HERE.

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (14 July 2023) invites us to reflect in this way:

Today we reflect that we cannot leave the care of the planet to the young. May we all do our bit to protect our environment and God’s precious creation.


Father of the eternal Word,
in whose encompassing love
all things in peace and order move:
grant that, as your servant John Keble
adored you in all creation,
so we may have a humble heart of love
for the mysteries of your Church
and know your love to be new every morning,
in Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Post Communion:

God, shepherd of your people,
whose servant John Keble revealed the loving service of Christ
in his ministry as a pastor of your people:
by this eucharist in which we share
awaken within us the love of Christ
and keep us faithful to our Christian calling;
through him who laid down his life for us,
but is alive and reigns with you, now and for ever.

The Unitarian Church at Prince’s Street, Cork … Trinity Presbyterian Church was formed after the Prince’s Street congregation split in the 1840s (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

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

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