16 June 2024

An odyssey before
Bloomsday visiting
Joyce’s early homes
in Dublin and Bray

Terenure in Dublin stakes a claim to James Joyce and his childhood odysseys (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2024)

Patrick Comerford

Today is Bloomsday celebrating that day 120 years ago – Thursday 16 June 1904 – celebrated by James Joyce in Ulysses 102 years ago in 1922. The day is named after Leopold Bloom, the principal character in the book as he wanders through the streets of Dublin.

The Bloomsday celebrations this year include readings, performances, re-enactments, tours, exhibitions, lectures, children’s events, a film festival, and many other festivities, with many people dressing, including straw boaters and bowlers.

Bloomsday is unparallelled as an international literary and cultural festival and it is one of the largest festivals in Dublin, with about 100 events throughout the city, attracting thousands of visitors from around the world.

Shakespeare & Co on the Rue de la Bûcherie in Paris … ‘Ulysses’ was first published by Shakespeare & Co in Paris in 1922 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2024)

Ulysses was first published by Shakespeare & Co in Paris in 1922, and I visited the successor bookshop on the Left Bank in February. A number of events today would compete for my attention if I were in Dublin today.

‘Joyce and the Jesuits: Bloomsday at St Francis Xavier Church’ is one of those events, from 12:30 to 4 pm. When Ulysses was published 102 years ago, Father George O’Neill, one of Joyce’s Jesuit teachers at Clongowes Wood, said Joyce was enjoying ‘regrettable celebrity’ in Paris. Yet, while Joyce pokes gentle fun at some individual Jesuits, his affection for the Jesuits who educated him runs through his writings.

The main response to Ulysses in Ireland was to attack it on anti-Catholic grounds. But, while Joyce may have had issues with the Irish Catholic Church at the time, his writings were steeped in Church history, philosophy and theology, and his knowledge was often far better than many of the Irish Catholic clergy who denounced him. Gradually, the importance of Joyce in Irish literature became more widely accepted.

The Baptistry in Saint Joseph’s Church, Terenure … James Joyce was baptised on 5 February 1882 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2024)

The Jesuit Church of Saint Francis Xavier, Gardiner Street, features throughout his work. This afternoon, the actor, writer and broadcaster Gerry McArdle puts together a programme of readings from Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses that highlight Joyce’s Jesuit connections. He is joined by Raphael Kelly, a well-known figure in Irish musical circles, and the singer Suzanne Mangan. The event is hosted and narrated by the RTÉ newscaster Eileen Dunne.

At the same time, the Irish Jewish Museum is presenting two events for Bloomsday about the Jewish history of Dublin during Joyce’s time.

The Joyce Focus Tour is at 1:30. The Irish Jewish Museum is in the heart of what was the Jewish quarter of Portobello, known to many as ‘Little Jerusalem’, and has memories of life in the area as Leopold Bloom might have known it and as Joyce witnessed it in the early 1900s.

This is followed at 3 pm with a screening of Estella, a documentary on the life of Estella Solomons, the Irish landscape and portrait painter and contemporary of James Joyce. Born in Dublin in 1882 and her portraits record three generation of rebels, artists and literary figures who forged the new Ireland. The 52-minutes film, made in 2002, was directed by Steve Woods, who is present at this afternoon’s screening.

Rathgar Bloomsday Festival was celebrated a day before Bloomsday this weekend (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2024)

Rathgar, the suburban Dublin village where James Joyce was born in 1882, celebrated Bloomsday a day earlier with the Rathgar Bloomsday Festival yesterday at Rathgar Village Square, sponsored by Dublin City Council and Rathgar Business Association.

The programme included readings from Ulysses, jazz from Razzmajazz, food stalls and face painting.

My friend and colleague Professor Salvador Ryan of Maynooth University is planning a new book on ‘Childhood and the Irish’, following on the success of his recent books on Birth (2021), Marriage (2019), Death (2016) and Christmas (2023) and the Irish. One of the suggestions I have put to him is a chapter on James Joyce’s childhood, and his childhood odyssey across Dublin, between 1882 and 1902.

James Joyce was born at 41 Brighton Square, Rathgar, on 2 February 1882 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2024)

When Charlotte and I were in Bray and Dublin about a week ago, I went in search of some of Joyce’s childhood homes in Rathgar, Rathmines and Bray that were part of that odyssey. During the course of a day, I visited the first three houses that were the childhood homes of James Joyce.

His childhood odyssey began when James Joyce was born at 41 Brighton Square, Rathgar, on 2 February 1882, and baptised on 5 February 1882 in the temporary church on the site of Saint Joseph’s Church, Terenure, just a few steps away from the Eagle Tavern, where his mother May (Murray) Joyce was born.

Over the next 20 years, Joyce’s father moved the family to 14 different addresses in Dublin and neighbouring areas. The family moved in 1884 to 23 Castlewood Avenue, Rathmines, where he lived until 1887. A plaque on the house says he lived there from the age of two to five, ‘and wrote his first words here.’

James Joyce ‘wrote his first words’ at 23 Castlewood Avenue in Rathmines (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2024)

The Joyce family then moved to No 1 Martello Terrace in Bray in 1887, and lived there until 1892. A modest plaque is on the façade of the house, facing the Promenade and Bray Head, and a short stroll from the Martello Hotel, where Charlotte and I were staying for two nights. Appropriately, Ulysses is the name of a former guesthouse nearby on Strand Road, that has recently been converted into apartments.

When Stephen Dedalus and Buck Mulligan stand ‘looking towards the blunt cape of Bray Head that lay on the water like the snout of a sleeping whale,’ it actually physically impossible for them see Bray Head from the tower in Sandycove. This is surprising, because Joyce was familiar with Bray Head as a child, and Bray Head is praised as one of the glories of Ireland in ‘Cyclops’. Bray is where Stephen Dedalus grew up, and it is where Molly and Leopold Bloom once took a rowboat out on the waves.

Joyce’s childhood home in Bray is represented in A Portrait of the Artist, in the Christmas dinner scene in which Simon Dedalus squares off against Dante O’Riordain over the tragic death of Charles Stewart Parnell. One of Joyce's memories from those days also surfaces in ‘Calypso,’ when Bloom mentally recites a little love poem to his daughter.

The Joyce family moved to No 1 Martello Terrace, Bray, in 1887 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2024)

In ‘Penelope,’ Molly Bloom recalls a nearly disastrous rowing outing off the coast in Bray: ‘Id never again in this life get into a boat with him after him at Bray telling the boatman he knew how to row if anyone asked could he ride the steeplechase for the gold cup hed say yes then it came on to get rough the old thing crookeding about and the weight all down my side telling me pull the right reins now pull the left and the tide all swamping in floods in through the bottom and his oar slipping out of the stirrup its a mercy we werent all drowned he can swim of course me no theres no danger whatsoever keep yourself calm in his flannel trousers Id like to have tattered them down off him before all the people and give him what that one calls flagellate till he was black and blue do him all the good in the world.’

Bray Rowing Club continues to keep seagoing rowing boats on the beach in Bray to this day, and the boats were on the beach as Charolotte strolled along the seafront towards Bray Head at dusk in the late evening.

Bray Rowing Club continues to keep rowing boats on the beach in Bray (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2024)

From Bray, the Joyce family moved regularly, evading and escaping debt collectors and bailiffs at addresses in Blackrock (1892), Fitzgibbon Street (1893), Hardwicke Street (1894), Millbourne Avenue (1894), North Richmond Street (1895), Windsor Avenue (1896), Convent Avenue (1899), Richmond Avenue (1899), Royal Terrace (1900), Glengariff Parade (1902), and Saint Peter’s Terrace (1902).

The family continued to move after James Joyce moved to Paris in 1902, with at least six more identifiable and known addresses.

Perhaps this childhood and teenage odyssey, criss-crossing Dublin, influenced the greatest odyssey in modern Irish literature, the wanderings of Leopold Bloom 120 years ago on Bloomsday, 16 June 1904.

Ulysses on Strand Road in Bray … recently converted into apartments (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2024)

Daily prayer in Ordinary Time 2024:
38, 16 June 2024, Trinity III

The altar and the holy gifts seen through the central doors of the iconostasis in Stony Stratford, open during the Divine Liturgy (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2024)

Patrick Comerford

This is the Third Sunday after Trinity (Trinity III, 16 June 2024) and Father’s Day – and in Dublin today is also being celebrated as Bloomsday, one of the great literary festivals in the English-speaking world. Later this morning I hope to sing with the choir at the Parish Eucharist in Saint Mary and Saint Giles Church in Stony Stratford.

Before today begins, I am taking some quiet time this morning to give thanks, for reflection, prayer and reading in these ways:

1, today’s Gospel reading;

2, a reflection on the icons in the new iconostasis or icon stand in the Greek Orthodox Church in Stony Stratford.

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary;

4, the Collects and Post-Communion prayer of the day.

The lower, first tier of the iconostasis in Stony Stratford, with the central doors open during the Divine Liturgy (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2024)

Mark 4: 24-37 (NRSVUE):

26 He [Jesus] also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground 27 and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. 28 The earth produces of itself first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle because the harvest has come.”

30 He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, 32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them as they were able to hear it; 34 he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.

A circular icon of the Archangel Gabriel in the central doors of the iconostasis in Stony Stratford, one of two icons depicting the Annunciation (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2024)

The Stony Stratford iconostasis 1: The Doors

At the Divine Liturgy in the Orthodox Church, the Symbol of Faith or the Creed is traditionally introduced with the exclamation: ‘The Doors! The Doors! In wisdom, let us attend!’

However, the doors referred to here are the doors of the church building, and not the doors of the iconostasis as many think. This is a call to ensure that all catechumens and non-communicants have left, and that no-one enters or leave the liturgical assembly. The historical liturgical expectation was that the Creed would be said only by those who had already officially pronounced it at baptism, and continued to confess it within the life of the Church.

Of course, visitors are now allowed to remain in the church and, because the bread and wine of the liturgy have been brought though the doors of the iconostasis, many people now believe that these are the doors referred to in the call: ‘The Doors! The Doors! In wisdom, let us attend!’

Over the last few weeks, I have been watching the building and installation of the new iconostasis or icon screen in the Greek Orthodox Church in Stony Stratford. In my prayer diary this morning and over the next few weeks, I am reflecting on this new iconostasis, and the theological meaning and liturgical significance of its icons and decorations.

The lower, first tier of a traditional iconostasis is sometimes called Sovereign. On the right side of the Beautiful Gates facing forward is an icon of Christ, often as the Pantokrator, representing his second coming, and on the left is an icon of the Theotokos (the Virgin Mary), symbolising the incarnation. It is another way of saying all things take place between Christ’s first coming and his second coming.

Other icons on this tier usually include depictions of the patron saint or feast day of the church, Saint John the Baptist, one or more of the Four Evangelists, and so on.

The central doors of the iconostasis in Stony Stratford have two round or circular icons, one of the Archangel Gabriel and the other of the Virgin Mary.

When the doors are open during the liturgy, all can seen the altar and above it an iconic representation of the Crucifixion, with images on each side of it of the Virgin Mary and Saint John the Theologian or Saint John the Evangelist.

I am thinking this morning of how many people find the doors of the church are closed to them, and how often we fail to bring Christ out of the church and into the world. Bishop Rosemarie Mallett, in her reflections for the USPG Prayer Diary this morning, also discusses how many in the Windrush generation looked for welcome and hospitality from their Christian brothers and sisters but were turned away from church doors. Who else finds the doors of the church are closed to them?

A circular icon of the Virgin Mary in the central doors of the iconostasis in Stony Stratford, one of two icons depicting the Annunciation (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2024)

Today’s Prayers (Sunday 16 June 2024, Trinity III):

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 ‘Windrush Day.’ This theme is introduced today with reflections by the Right Revd Dr Rosemarie Mallett, Bishop of Croydon:

‘On Windrush Day, we remember the Caribbean migrants who, in the same year that Windrush Day was inaugurated (2018), faced deportation. Despite arriving in the UK with British passports and living here for decades, they were told they did not belong and had no right to be in the country.

‘That sense of ‘unbelonging’ and the hostile environment of racism and rejection are felt by many of the original generation and their descendants. There can be no Caribbean-diaspora person who has not personally faced or known someone who has faced overt racism, unconscious bias, and racialised arrogance due to skin colour and cultural differences from white UK society. This was no different for those who looked for welcome and hospitality from Christian brothers and sisters and were turned away from church doors. Thankfully, this did not stop that generation of migrants from envisioning a place for themselves in whatever aspect of society they wished to succeed in.

‘On this and every Windrush Day, we give thanks to those early pioneers, celebrating the successes of those individuals who believed in their talent and skills, and most often, their God. Who often worked hard to overcome prejudice and advance themselves, their families, and their community. Today, we can see the flourishing of leadership and representation of people of colour and those of Caribbean heritage and descent in all aspects of life in this country. However, though much has changed, there is still a way to go before people can truly feel welcome and accepted and that they fully belong.’

The USPG Prayer Diary today (16 June 2024, Trinity III) invites us to reflect on these words:

After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands (Revelation 7: 9).

The Collect:

Almighty God,
you have broken the tyranny of sin
and have sent the Spirit of your Son into our hearts
whereby we call you Father:
give us grace to dedicate our freedom to your service,
that we and all creation may be brought
to the glorious liberty of the children of God;
through 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 Prayer:

O God, whose beauty is beyond our imagining
and whose power we cannot comprehend:
show us your glory as far as we can grasp it,
and shield us from knowing more than we can bear
until we may look upon you without fear;
through Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Additional Collect:

God our saviour,
look on this wounded world
in pity and in power;
hold us fast to your promises of peace
won for us by your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Yesterday’s introduction to the Stony Stratford iconostasis

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

I have watched the iconostasis being built and put in place in Stony Stratford in recent weeks (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2024)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version, Updated Edition copyright © 2021, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

15 June 2024

A new icon screen has
been put in place in the
Greek Orthodox Church
in Stony Stratford

The new iconostasis or icon stand installed in the Greek Orthodox Church in Stony Stratford in recent weeks (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2024; click on images for full-screen viewing)

Patrick Comerford

Over the past few weeks, I have visited the Greek Orthodox Church in Stony Stratford regularly, as I watched the erection of a new iconostasis (εἰκονοστάσιον) or icon stand in the church, along with new but traditional seating or pews (στασίδια, stasídia), new steps leading into the sanctuary area, and a new candle stand and a new polyelaios (πολυελαιος) or liturgical chandelier.

They all give a new yet a traditional look to the church, and after weeks of hard work and renovation they were blessed last Sunday morning (9 June 2024) by Father Gregory Wellington during the Divine Liturgy in what was an emotional and uplifting service.

The Greek Orthodox Community in Milton Keynes was founded 35 years ago on 7 December 1989 to meet the needs of Greek Orthodox people in in the rapidly city, seeking to support their religious, educational and cultural needs and to provide space to practise their language and traditions.

The church is dedicated to Saint Ambrosios and Saint Stylianos, with a small part of the church set aside as a chapel dedicated to Saint Mary of Vlachernae.

The Greek Orthodox Parish Church of Saint Ambrosios and Saint Stylianos on London Road, Stony Stratford … designed as an Anglican parish church by Sir George Gilbert Scott (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The community’s first home was in in Saint Martin’s Church, Fenny Stratford, for 20 years until the former Church of Saint Mary the Virgin on London Road in Stony Stratford became available. The former Church of England parish church was designed by the architect Sir George Gilbert Scott and was built in 1864. It had ceased being a place of worship in 1969, and for many years was a community centre.

With generous and substantial support from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the community was able to offer to buy the church in Stony Stratford in September 2006. The late Archbishop Gregorios of Thyateita and Great Britain officiated at the first Vespers in the church on 14 September 2008. The purchase was finalised on 11 May 2009, and it became a Greek Orthodox Church officially that year.

The community also acquired the parish hall beside the church, designed by the Stony Stratford architect Edward Swinfen Harris and was built in 1892. The hall was renamed the Swinfen Harris Church Hall in 2010, keeping alive the link with the town’s architectural heritage.

Father Gregory Wellington presides at the Divine Liturgy in Stony Stratford last Sunday (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2024)

Over the next few weeks, I plan to look at the icons in the church, particularly in the newly installed iconostasis (εἰκονοστάσιον, ikonostásion), in my prayer diary on my blog each morning, beginning tomorrow morning. But this evening it is worth looking at the theological and meaning and liturgical significance and the traditions of an iconostasis.

In Eastern Orthodoxy, an iconostasis is a traditional stand or screen of icons and religious images in a church that separates the nave and the laity from the sanctuary or altar area where the priest presides at the Eucharist or the Divine Liturgy.

The nave is the main body of the church where most of the worshippers stand, and the sanctuary is the area around the altar at the east end the church. The sanctuary is usually one to three steps higher than the nave, with the iconostasis usually set a few feet back from the edge of the top step. This forms a walkway in front of the iconostasis for the clergy, called a soleas. In the very centre of the soleas is an extension, often rounded, called the ambon, on deacons stand to recite litanies during the services.

The iconostasis is often tall but rarely touches the ceiling. This allows the ekphoneses (liturgical exclamations) of the clergy to be heard clearly by the people. In small, modern churches the iconostasis may be completely absent: in such cases it is replaced by a few small icons on analogia (lecterns), forming a virtual divide.

The lower, first tier of the iconostasis, with the Holy Doors and side doors, is sometimes called Sovereign (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2024)

The iconostasis typically has three openings or sets of doors: the Beautiful Gates or Holy Doors in the centre, and the north and south Doors to either side.

The Beautiful Gates, sometimes also known as the Royal Doors, remain shut whenever a service is not being held. Customs vary to when they are opened during services.

The north and south doors are often called Deacons’ Doors because the deacons use them frequently. Icons of sainted deacons are often depicted on these doors, such as Saint Stephen the Protomartyr and Saint Ephrem the Syrian. Alternatively, the side doors may be called the Angels’ Doors, with images of the Archangel Michael as the Defender and the Archangel Gabriel as the Messenger.

Traditionally, in large churches with elaborate, tall icon stands, there are five tiers: 1, the icons to either side of the Holy Doors are of Christ Pantokrator and of the Theotokos; 2, above them are images the Great Feasts; 3, above them, the Deesis; 4, above them, Prophets to either side of Our Lady of the Sign; and 5, above them, the Apostles to either side of the Holy Trinity.

The lower, first tier is sometimes called Sovereign. On the right side of the Beautiful Gates facing forward is an icon of Christ, often as the Pantokrator, representing his second coming, and on the left is an icon of the Theotokos (the Virgin Mary), symbolising the incarnation. It is another way of saying all things take place between Christ’s first coming and his second coming. Other icons on this tier usually include depictions of the patron saint or feast day of the church, Saint John the Baptist, one or more of the Four Evangelists, and so on.

An icon of the Mystical Supper above the Beautiful Gates and the feasts tier with icons of the 12 Great Feasts of the liturgical year (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2024)

An icon of the Mystical Supper or the Last Supper is usually seen above the Beautiful Gates.

Above this are two interchangeable tiers: the Deisis and the Twelve Great Feasts. In the centre of the Deisis is a large icon of Christ Enthroned. To the left and right are icons of Saint John the Baptist and the Theotokos in prayer. They are often flanked by icons of the Archangel Michael and the Archangel Gabriel, then Saint Peter and Saint Paul, and then, perhaps, other important Church Fathers.

The feasts tier contains icons of the 12 Great Feasts of the liturgical year: the Nativity of the Theotokos (8 September),the Exaltation of the Cross (14 September), the Presentation of the Theotokos (21 November), the Nativity of Christ (25 December), the Baptism of Christ (6 January), the Presentation of Christ in the Temple (2 February), the Annunciation (25 March), the Entry into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday), the Ascension, Pentecost, the Transfiguration (6 August) and the Dormition (15 August).

Above this, the top two tiers are also interchangeable with each other.

The Biblical Prophets and Patriarchs – including the 12 sons of Jacob – are often placed on either side of an icon of Our Lady of the Sign, while the Twelve Apostles may be seen on either side of an icon of either Christ at the Second Coming or the Holy Trinity.

However, only the largest and most elaborate iconostases have all five tiers. Many modern Greek iconostases only include the bottom (‘Sovereign’) tier, and on occasion a second tier of smaller icons, usually depicting either the Great Feasts or the Apostles, with an icon of the Mystical Supper, or occasionally the Hospitality of Abraham, above the Beautiful Gates. The iconostasis is often surmounted by a central cross, often with a depiction of Christ Crucified, flanked by the Theotokos and Saint John the Evangelist at the foot of the cross.

When the Beautiful Gates are open during the Divine Liturgy, all can see the altar and the sanctuary (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2024)

There are traditions about who may enter or leave the sanctuary and by which door. Neither the Beautiful Gates nor the space between them and the altar table are used by the laity; bishops enter through the Beautiful Gates at any time; priests and deacons do so only at specific times during services; all others enter the sanctuary through the side doors.

But it would be misleading to describe the iconostasis as separating the nave from the sanctuary. In truth, it brings them together, and the iconostasis is the link between heaven and earth, bringing the holy out into the world and inviting the world into the heavenly through Christ and the story of salvation. In other words the iconostasis connects rather than separates, and the doors open both ways between both realms. The rood screens in western mediaeval churches have served the same purpose liturgically and theologically.

The new iconostasis, steps, stalls and candle burner in Stony Stratford were built and installed over the past few weeks by a traditional team of church furnishers from Athens. At present, the spaces for the icons are arranged in the traditional or customary way, but are currently filled with prints. In time, the plan is to replace the prints with original, hand-made icons. So this is a project that involves considerable fundraising efforts and commitments on behalf of the Greek Orthodox Community in Milton Keynes.

The church already has a number of beautiful icons, and in the coming months and years to come I hope to see this project grow and develop.

Meanwhile, why not join me in my prayer diary each morning over the next few weeks as I look at the traditional icons in the iconostasis and throughout the church in Stony Stratford?

Continued Tomorrow

The former, informal iconostasis in the Church of Saint Ambrosios and Saint Stylianos in Stony Stratford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Daily prayer in Ordinary Time 2024:
37, 15 June 2024

The chapel in Trinity College Dublin was designed in the 1790s by Sir William Chambers (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Tomorrow is the Third Sunday after Trinity (Trinity III, 16 June 2024) and Father’s Day. The calendar of the Church of England in Common Worship today (15 June) remembers the life and work of Evelyn Underhill (1941), Spiritual Writer.

In the two weeks after Trinity Sunday, I illustrated my prayers and reflections with images and memories of cathedrals, churches, chapels and monasteries in Greece and England dedicated to the Holy Trinity. I have continued that theme this week, with images and memories of churches I know in Ireland that are dedicated to the Holy Trinity.

Before today begins, I am taking some quiet time this morning to give thanks, for reflection, prayer and reading in these ways:

1, today’s Gospel reading;

2, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary;

3, the Collects and Post-Communion prayer of the day.

Inside the chapel in Trinity College Dublin (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Matthew 5: 33-37 (NRSVUE):

[Jesus said:] 33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you: Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.”

The stained glass window in the apse in the chapel in TCD depicting the Transfiguration is by Mayer & Company (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The Chapel, Trinity College, Dublin:

My photographs this morning (15 June 2024) are from the chapel in Trinity College Dublin. Trinity Monday is no longer celebrated in Trinity College Dublin on the day after Trinity Sunday. Instead, Trinity Monday was marked this year in TCD on 22 April, when new honorary fellows, fellows and scholars were announced. The ceremony is one of the oldest and most colourful at TCD and refers back to its foundation in 1592.

I received a post-graduate Diploma in Ecumenics at TCD in 1984, and studied classical Greek there in 1987. Later, I was twice the Select Preacher in the Chapel, and I have chaired and been the secretary of the Dublin University Far Eastern Mission (DUFEM).

Until 2017, while I was on the staff of the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, I was an Adjunct Assistant Professor in TCD, sitting on academic and staff committees and Courts of Examiners, supervising research and overseeing examinations. Group photographs of the BTh and MTh graduates were taken each year on the steps of the chapel in TCD. I was also a visiting lecturer on other degree courses.

Overlooking Front Square, at the heart of the TCD campus, the chapel was designed by Sir William Chambers in 1798 to form the north range of Parliament Square. Chambers was George III’s architect, and he also designed the Examination Hall on the south side of Parliament Square. The building work was overseen by Christopher Myers and his son Graham Myers, and it is likely that Myers heavily influenced the end design.

The chapel and the theatre are similar in form, creating a pleasing balance to the square and evoking a sense of Palladian symmetry with the two buildings serving as end pavilions. However, the chapel is both longer and narrower.

The classical elegance of the design is seen throughout the chapel, particularly in the stonework carved by George Darley and Richard Cranfield. Inside, the classical motif continues in the plasterwork by Michael Stapleton, spiral staircases by Robert Mallet, and the organ gallery carved by Richard Cranfield. Henry Hugh, a general carpenter throughout the project, may have worked on the pews.

The 19th century saw significant modifications to the interior, with stained glass by Clayton and Bell depicting scenes of Moses and the Children, the Ransom of the Lord, the Sermon on the Mount, and Christ with the teachers of Law, installed in 1865. Polychrome floor tiles were added to designs of John McCurdy, and, in 1872, stained glass windows were installed in the apse and centre, showing the Transfiguration, to designs by Mayer & Company.

Reflecting the Anglican heritage of the college, there are daily services of Morning Prayer, weekly services of Evensong, and Holy Communion is celebrated on Tuesdays and Sundays.

The chapel has been ecumenical since 1970, and is now also used daily in the celebration of Mass for the college’s Roman Catholic members. In addition to the Anglican chaplain, who is known as the Dean of Residence, there are two Roman Catholic chaplains and one Methodist chaplain.

The chapel is often the venue for ecumenical events, such as the annual carol service and the service of thanksgiving on Trinity Monday.

The Chapel Choir in Trinity College Dublin was established in 1762 and sings twice a week at services in the chapel, Evensong on Thursdays and the Eucharist on Sundays. The choir is made up of students from across the university. There is also a student Conductor, a student Organ Scholar, and a professional Director of Music who oversee the running of the choir, its music, and its day-to-day activities.

With MTh graduates on the steps of the chapel in Trinity College Dublin

Today’s Prayers (Saturday 15 June 2024):

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), has been ‘Estate Community Development Mission, Diocese of Colombo, Church of Ceylon.’ This theme was introduced on Sunday with a programme update. The Church of Ceylon is one of USPG’s Partners in Mission (PIM).

The USPG Prayer Diary today (15 June 2024) invites us to pray:

Use this verse to pray: Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs’ (Matthew 19: 14).

The Collect:

Lord, you have taught us
that all our doings without love are nothing worth:
send your Holy Spirit
and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of love,
the true bond of peace and of all virtues,
without which whoever lives is counted dead before you.
Grant this for your only Son Jesus Christ’s sake,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Post Communion Prayer:

Loving Father,
we thank you for feeding us at the supper of your Son:
sustain us with your Spirit,
that we may serve you here on earth
until our joy is complete in heaven,
and we share in the eternal banquet
with Jesus Christ our Lord.

Additional Collect:

Faithful Creator,
whose mercy never fails:
deepen our faithfulness to you
and to your living Word,
Jesus Christ our Lord.

Collect on the Eve of Trinity III:

Almighty God,
you have broken the tyranny of sin
and have sent the Spirit of your Son into our hearts
whereby we call you Father:
give us grace to dedicate our freedom to your service,
that we and all creation may be brought
to the glorious liberty of the children of God;
through 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.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

Parliament Square, or Front Square, in TCD, with the portico of the chapel on the left (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version, Updated Edition copyright © 2021, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Looking through the Campanile towards Regent House in TCD, with the chapel on the right and the public theatre or exam hall on the left (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

14 June 2024

The philanthropist who
helped conserve
Hebraica and Judaica in
Lincoln College, Oxford

The library of Lincoln College, Oxford, has a remarkable collection of Hebraica and Judaica (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2024)

Patrick Comerford

Patrick Comerford

I was discussing All Saints’ Church in Oxford in a posting earlier this week, and how the former parish church on the High Street in central Oxford was transformed into the library of Lincoln College in 1975.

The upper reading room, with its elegant plastered ceiling, is known as the Cohen Room and its name acknowledges the generosity of John S Cohen Foundation, for many years identified with Dr David Cohen, an alumnus of Lincoln College.

Lincoln College has a relatively small collection of Hebraica and Judaica, with just over 400 works in Hebrew and Aramaic, with related works in Latin and Greek. Yet, the collection is remarkable, both for its range and depth and for the insight it gives us into the study of Hebrew in the 16th and 17th centuries, in Oxford and throughout Europe.

The collection comes largely from the private libraries of two Rectors of Lincoln College, Richard Kilby (1560-1620) and Thomas Marshall (1621-1685).

Richard Kilby was the Regius Professor of Hebrew in Oxford and one of the translators of the King James Bible. His library was rare even in its own time, with important editions of the Bible, biblical commentaries, and dictionaries of Hebrew and Arabic.

Thomas Marshall was one of the most important philologists of the 17th century. His library, with books in Arabic, Aramaic, Coptic, Syriac and Malay, as well as Latin, Greek and Hebrew, reflects the breadth of his scholarship and intellectual interests.

Thanks to a generous donation from the John S Cohen Foundation, the Lincoln Hebraica collection has been catalogued onto the Oxford online catalogue SOLO and is fully available to researchers.

The John S Cohen Foundation is particularly active in supporting the arts, higher education, conservation and the environment, making grants of over £500,000 a year.

The John S Cohen Foundation was set up in 1965 by Dr David Cohen and his family. David Cohen, who died in 2019, was one of Britain’s most active cultural philanthropists, and founded the Cohen Family Trust in 1980 with his then wife, Veronica. A former GP, he served on the boards of several arts institutions, including the Royal Ballet Schools, the Royal Opera House, the National Theatre Development Council and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Trust. He was a graduate and an honorary fellow of of Lincoln College Oxford.

David Cohen was born in Kensington on 6 January 1930, and grew up in Cricklewood. In an interview with the Journal of Medical Biography in 1996, he recalled that his parents were members of the United Synagogue and his early memories were of the Warm Lane Synagogue.

In an interview with the Jewish Chronicle in 2010, he spoke about his motivation for his involvement in arts funding. ‘I love all the arts. I couldn’t imagine a life without music for instance,’ he said. ‘One of my early ambitions as a schoolboy was to be an architect. In fact, when I was about nine or 10, I wanted to go to art school. My parents were not impressed. They felt I should get a good education first.’

When he went to Oxford after national service, ‘I felt a need to know more about my own cultural background,’ he told Harold Maxwell of the Journal of Medical Biography. ‘As a Jew, I was ignorant about my own tradition but, fortunately, at Oxford there was a very good school of Oriental Studies and one of the things the school included was Hebrew.’

He read Hebrew, Arabic, Aramaic and Syriac for his degree (BA 1954, MA 1957). He then received a Fulbright Fellowship to study mediaeval Jewish philosophy at Brandeis in University in Massachusetts.

His father, John S Cohen, was a valuer and surveyor, and at 25 David Cohen became an estate agent. But at the age of 30 he decided to study medicine and qualified as a doctor from Westminster Hospital.

His lengthy engagement with philanthropy began in 1965, after returning from a travelling fellowship in tropical medicine in Uganda. That year, with his father, John S Cohen, he and his mother and brother set up the John S Cohen Foundation. The foundation facilitated generous donations to Jewish causes, in particular to the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

David Cohen, also gave his name to the David Cohen Prize, worth £40,000 every second year and made in recognition of the entire body of work of a UK or Irish writer. Recipients of the prize include: VS Naipaul, Harold Pinter, Muriel Spark, William Trevor, Doris Lessing, Beryl Bainbridge and Thom Gunn (joint winners), Michael Holroyd, Derek Mahon, Seamus Heaney, Julian Barnes, Hilary Mantel, Tony Harrison, Tom Stoppard, Edna O’Brien, Colm Tóibín and John Burnside.

David Cohen married Veronica Salmon in 1962. They were the parents of two daughters and they divorced in 2002. He married the prominent arts administrator Jillian Barker in 2003. He died at home on 4 August 2019, aged 89.

May his memory be a blessing זיכרונו לברכה

Shabbat Shalom שַׁבָּת שָׁלוֹם

David Cohen (1930-2019) … one of Britain’s most active cultural philanthropists (Photograph: Jewish Chronicle)

Daily prayer in Ordinary Time 2024:
36, 14 June 2024

Trinity Episcopal Church on Catherine Street, Limerick, was built in 1834 through the efforts of Edward Newenham Hoare (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

This week began with the Second Sunday after Trinity (Trinity II, 9 June 2024). The calendar of the Church of England in Common Worship today (14 June) remembers Richard Baxter (1691), Puritan Divine.

In the two weeks after Trinity Sunday, I illustrated my prayers and reflections with images and memories of cathedrals, churches, chapels and monasteries in Greece and England dedicated to the Holy Trinity. I am continuing this theme this week, with images and memories of churches I know in Ireland that are dedicated to the Holy Trinity.

Before today begins, I am taking some quiet time this morning to give thanks, for reflection, prayer and reading in these ways:

1, today’s Gospel reading;

2, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary;

3, the Collects and Post-Communion prayer of the day.

Inside Trinity Episcopal Church, Limerick, in the early 20th century … note the high pulpit in a focal position (Photograph © Archiseek)

Matthew 5: 27-32 (NRSVUE):

[Jesus said:] 27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.

31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

The Limerick Civic Trust plaque at Trinity Episcopal Church on Catherine Street (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Trinity Episcopal Church, Catherine Street, Limerick:

Today there are two Church of Ireland churches in Limerick City – Saint Mary’s Cathedral on King’s Island and Saint Michael’s Church on the corner of Barrington Street and Pery Square.

Saint Michael’s Church, which was consecrated in 1844, replaced an older church, Saint George’s on George’s Street, now O’Connell Street, which was founded in 1789.

Saint Michael’s is also known as ‘the sinking church’ as it was not built on bed rock and has sunk ever so slightly over the years.

Saint Munchin’s Church was built as a Church of Ireland parish church in 1827. The architects were the brothers George and James Pain, who built the church in the Gothic style, with four pinnacles at the top of the tower.

Saint Munchin is the patron saint of Limerick. There are many legends about Saint Munchin, who is said to have lived in Limerick in the late seventh century.

Saint Munchin’s Church is on King’s Island, between the Bishop’s Palace and the Villiers Alms Houses. It was built in 1827 and was renovated in 1980 by the Limerick Civic Trust. It was a used for a period by the Island Theatre Company and is now used as a store for Limerick Civic Trust.

Saint John’s Church stands on the site of an earlier church in the Irish town area of the city, which dated from the 1200s. It is located at one end of Saint John’s Square, the first development of Newtown Pery.

The walls around the graveyard were built in 1693 and the present church was built in 1852. The graveyard is the burial place for many Limerick merchant families, including the Russells, who ran the largest mills in Limerick in the mid-19th century.

The church fell into disuse in the early 1970s as the Anglican population of Limerick city declined in numbers. It was transferred to Limerick Corporation in 1975. The interior was completely redesigned and for a period the church was used as a base for the Dagdha Dance Company. It is now the hub for Dance Limerick.

One Anglican church in Limerick that stood outside the diocesan and parochial systems for many years is the former Trinity Episcopal Church on Catherine Street. I often passed this former church on my way between buses in Limerick during the five years I was living in Askeaton, Precentor of Limerick, and the priest-in-charge of the Rathkeale Group of Parishes (2017-2022). But for many people, it must be easy to pass by this former church without noticing the building because of the way it has been integrated into the streetscape of Catherine Street.

Trinity Church was designed by the architect Joseph Fogerty and was built in 1834 as a chapel for a nearby Asylum for Blind Women through subscriptions raised in Ireland and England by the Revd Edward Newenham Hoare (1802-1877).

Edward Newenham Hoare was a Church of Ireland priest and the author of religious tracts and fiction. His father, Canon John Hoare from Drishane, near Millstreet, Co Cork, was the Canon Chancellor of Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick and Vicar-General of the Diocese of Limerick, and as Rector of Rathkeale (1803-1813) he was one of my predecessors. Edward’s mother, Rachel (died 1850), was a daughter of Sir Edward Newenham MP.

Edward Hoare was born in Limerick on 11 April 1802 and was educated at Trinity College Dublin (MA 1839). He was a curate of Saint John’s Church, Limerick, in 1830-1831 and later was Archdeacon of Ardfert (1836-1839).

In the 1830s, Hoare was also the editor of the Christian Herald, and he published a number of sermons too. Around 1831, he first proposed opening a chapel for the blind in Limerick, but his plans were opposed by the then Bishop of Limerick.

But Hoare appealed for subscriptions throughout Ireland and the England, and the new church was built as a place of worship for the adjoining asylum for blind girls and women.

The new classical church was designed by the architect Joseph Fogerty and was consecrated and opened on 4 May 1834. Perhaps it was named after Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale, where Hoare’s father had been rector earlier in the 19th century.

This was an attached three-bay, two-storey over basement limestone, pedimented church. It was flanked on both sides by a pair of attached two-bay, three-storey over basement red brick townhouses.

The central building is built entirely of smooth limestone ashlar. It has a recessed central double-height entrance bay with a pair of giant order Ionic columns, flanked by a pair of giant order Doric corner piers, flanked by similar giant order Doric pilasters. These support a plain architrave and frieze. The central recess is surmounted by a pediment forming a shallow breakfront, and continuing as a heavy cornice to either side.

A stringcourse is located at the first-floor level with channel rusticated walls to the ground floor level.

A large round-arched window opening with a panelled apron dominates the first-floor level of the recessed portico, with an arched 10-over-15 timber sash window.

Flanking the portico are single round-arched window openings with panelled aprons containing six-over-nine timber sash windows incorporating a spoked fanlight with margin lights. There are square-headed ground floor window openings, each with a limestone sill and an apron underneath, with six-over-six timber sash windows with margin lights.

Three square-headed door openings with double-leaf timber-panelled doors are located at the ground floor level of the portico, opening onto a limestone platform and a stylobate of five steps.

The flanking buildings have red brick walls laid in Flemish bond with cement repointing with concrete coping to the rebuilt parapet walls. There is a limestone plinth course at the ground-floor level over painted rendered basement walls.

The gauged brick flat-arched window openings have patent reveals and limestone sills. There are replacement six-over-six timber sash windows.

There are gauged brick round-arched door openings to each building with patent reveals, modern replacement carved timber door surrounds and overlight and panelled doors, dating from about 2000.

There is an in-filled basement to the south-flanking former house with a modern wheelchair ramp and replica spearhead railings, all dating from about 2000. The north-flanking former house has a concrete platform and four limestone steps that are flanked by replica spear-headed railings on a limestone plinth enclosing the basement.

A round green plaque placed outside by the Limerick Civic Trust reads: ‘Trinity Church An Episcopal church built in 1834 through subscriptions raised by the personal efforts of the Venerable Edward Newenham Hoare.’

Edward Newenham Hoare gave his name to Newenham Street in Limerick. He was Archdeacon of Ardfert (1836-1839), and was later Dean of Achonry Cathedral from 1839 to 1850, and Dean of Waterford from 1850 until his death.

His first wife was Louisa Maria O’Donoghue from Portarlington, and their children included the Revd John Newenham Hoare of Muckross and the Revd Edward Newenham Hoare, Rector of Acrise, Folkestone, Kent. In 1859, he married his second wife, the twice-widowed Harriet, daughter of Colonel George Browne.

Hoare died in Upper Norwood, London, on 1 February 1877 and he is commemorated by a plaque in Christ Church Cathedral, Waterford.

Hoare’s church was designed by the Limerick-born architect and builder Joseph Fogerty (1806-1887), who had a lucrative practice in the city. He was born into a family of builders working from Saint John’s Square in 1824 and from Newtown Pery by 1840, and was baptised in Saint Mary’s Cathedral on 9 March 1806.

His other works included the Theatre Royal in Henry Street (1841), Leamy’s Free School (1841-1845), a Tudor Revival building on Harstronge Street, and several houses in Limerick, and he worked in partnership with his son Robert Fogerty (1843-1917) from offices in Henry Street until his death in 1887.

The apse in the church was added by Joseph Fogerty’s nephew, William Fogerty (1833-1878), in 1858-1859 at a cost of £500.

A stained-glass window of ‘Christ healing the Blind’ was placed in the church in 1877 in memory of late William Franklin, manager of the Provincial Bank, ‘who took deep interest in the Blind Asylum connected with the church.’

Joseph Fogerty’s son, Robert Fogerty, removed the old gas fittings in 1895 and designed extensive alterations and improvements to the church, including new art metalwork, brass light fittings and a new lectern. The church reopened on 7 November 1895.

The building has been in government use since the 1960s, when the church was converted to office use on behalf of the local health board. The building is now used by the Health Service Executive (HSE).

The interior of the building was gutted around 2000, when the galleries were removed and an attic-storey added to all three structures. There is a flat roof with an artificial slate mansard front and sides with lead covered dormers containing uPVC windows.

The cut limestone centrepiece and the two flanking former houses appear to have been radically altered in recent years. But this set of three buildings on Catherine Street remain a fine architectural composition and they form a pleasant aspect in this intact streetscape in the heart of Limerick.

Trinity Episcopal Church remains an integral part of a fine architectural composition (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Today’s Prayers (Friday 14 June 2024):

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 ‘Estate Community Development Mission, Diocese of Colombo, Church of Ceylon.’ This theme was introduced on Sunday with a programme update. The Church of Ceylon is one of USPG’s Partners in Mission (PIM).

The USPG Prayer Diary today (14 June 2024) invites us to pray:

Father, thank you for a long-standing and cherished partnership between USPG and the Diocese of Colombo, Church of Ceylon. We praise you for your faithfulness.

The Collect:

Lord, you have taught us
that all our doings without love are nothing worth:
send your Holy Spirit
and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of love,
the true bond of peace and of all virtues,
without which whoever lives is counted dead before you.
Grant this for your only Son Jesus Christ’s sake,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Post Communion Prayer:

Loving Father,
we thank you for feeding us at the supper of your Son:
sustain us with your Spirit,
that we may serve you here on earth
until our joy is complete in heaven,
and we share in the eternal banquet
with Jesus Christ our Lord.

Additional Collect:

Faithful Creator,
whose mercy never fails:
deepen our faithfulness to you
and to your living Word,
Jesus Christ our Lord.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version, Updated Edition copyright © 2021, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

13 June 2024

Enjoying the bridges and boats
on the Cherwell and Isis in
‘the city of dreaming spires’

Punts on the River Cherwell at Christ Church Meadow in Oxford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2024)

Patrick Comerford

Despite living within commuting distance of Oxford for some time now and within the Diocese of Oxford, I am still familiarising myself with ‘the city of dreaming spires’.

The Victorian poet Matthew Arnold described the beauty of university buildings in his poem Thyrsis, in which he describes Oxford as ‘the city of dreaming spires’ because of its architecture:

And that sweet city with her dreaming spires,
She needs not June for beauty’s heightening.


‘The city of dreaming spires’ … a view of Oxford across Christ Church Meadow (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2024)

I still do not feel as familiar with Oxford as I do with Cambridge, where I have studied at the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies, staying at Sidney Sussex College over the years. I have also preached and lectured in Sidney Sussex and in Christ’s College, and feel I know my way around Cambridge, its colleges, churches and college chapels, its bookshops, cafés and bars, its open spaces and its hidden corners.

In Cambridge, I know my way along the Backs and by the boat clubs, and I wonder whether some day I am ever going to become as familiar with similar walks in Oxford.

The Cherwell and the Thames – known as the Isis in Oxford – run through the city, and walking through Christ Church Meadow, along the river banks and by the boat houses one recent sunny afternoon I too was captivated by those views that have made Oxford ‘the city of dreaming spires.’

The college boats houses are clustered together in Oxford, lined in a row along Boathouses Walk (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2024)

Both Cambridge and Oxford are also cities of bicycles, bridges and boats.

As in Cambridge, the college boats houses are clustered together in Oxford, lined in a row along Boathouses Walk: Saint Anne’s, Saint Hugh’s and Wadham; Saint Edmund Hall; Corpus Christi and Saint John’s; Jesus and Keble; Brasenose and Exeter; Oriel, Lincoln and Queen’s; Baliol and Osler House; Merton and Worcester; Linacre; and Christ Church. Facing them on the opposite bank are: University College, and more college boat houses as one continues south.

In all, there are 40 boat clubs within the university: four representative university clubs (Oxford University Boat Club, Oxford University Women’s Boat Club, Oxford University Lightweight Rowing Club and Oxford University Women’s Lightweight Rowing Club) and 36 college boat clubs, with over 3,000 active members in total. The 40 college and university clubs together form the confederation known as Oxford University Rowing Clubs (OURCs).

Jubilee Bridge, the newest bridge in Oxford, was built by Christ Church in 2014 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2024)

Nearby, I crossed the Jubilee Bridge, the newest bridge in Oxford. It was built by Christ Church and links Christ Church Meadow with the college’s playing fields over the River Cherwell.

The 28 metre-long steel bridge opened 10 years ago on 20 June 2014. But only Christ Church students and staff may cross it fully, and a gate blocks access to the sports ground side of the river.

This riverside setting gave rise to the name Oxenford in the Anglo-Saxon period.

All along the Cherwell and Isis, at this time of summer, the water is busy with punts and river cruises and with rowers and scullers practising their strokes.

Folly Island and Folly Bridge, a stone bridge over the River Thames (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2024)

It was a June afternoon, I had walked almost a full circle in a clockwise direction when I found myself back at Folly Island and Folly Bridge, the stone bridge over the River Thames carrying the Abingdon Road south from the centre of Oxford.

The bridge is in two parts that are separated by an island and stands at the site of the ford over which oxen could be driven across the Isis. Until the late 17th century, the bridge was known as South Bridge, and formed part of a long causeway known as Grandpont that stretched along almost the full length of Abingdon Road.

In the 13th century, the philosopher and alchemist Roger Bacon (1214-1292) lived and worked at ‘Friar Bacon’s Study,’ which stood across the north end of the bridge until 1779, when it was removed to widen the road.

Samuel Pepys visited Bacon's study in 1669, noting: ‘So to Friar Bacon’s study: I up and saw it, and gave the man 1s[hilling].’ Later, the place was painted by a precocious 12-year-old JMW Turner. The bridge was rebuilt in 1825-1827 to designs by Ebenezer Perry (1779-1850), a little-known architect.

Punts and river tours are available close to the bridge and Salters Steamers are there too. The Head of the River public house is next to the bridge to the north-east, with views of the bridge and river. It looks like an inviting place to begin or end my next riverside walk.

The Head of the River … a good place to begin or end riverside walks in Oxford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2024)

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland originated as a story first told by Lewis Carroll on a boating trip that began at Folly Bridge. But perhaps that is material for stories and other blog postings in the weeks to come.

Perhaps the most intriguing site at Folly Bridge is Caudwell’s Castle on Folly Bridge. It was built in 1849 by the eccentric Joseph Caudwell, who decorated and adorned it with follies, riotous brickwork, metal and stone statues, cast-iron balconies, decorative crenelations, French windows, and a rooftop statue of Atlas.

It is a folly that tells stories of intrigue, student pranks that backfired, shots in the dark, deceit, intrigue, raucous scenes in courtrooms, clerical misbehaviour, trials and perjury. But these are tales and stories for another evening too.

Five minutes by the river in Oxford (Patrick Comerford, 2024)

Daily prayer in Ordinary Time 2024:
35, 13 June 2024

Holy Trinity Abbey Church, now the Roman Catholic parish church in Adare, Co Limerick … restored through the patronage of the Dunraven family in the 19th century (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

This week began with the Second Sunday after Trinity (Trinity II, 9 June 2024). In the two weeks after Trinity Sunday, I illustrated my prayers and reflections with images and memories of cathedrals, churches, chapels and monasteries in Greece and England dedicated to the Holy Trinity. I am continuing this theme this week, with images and memories of churches I know in Ireland that are dedicated to the Holy Trinity.

Before today begins, I am taking some quiet time this morning to give thanks, for reflection, prayer and reading in these ways:

1, today’s Gospel reading;

2, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary;

3, the Collects and Post-Communion prayer of the day.

Inside Holy Trinity Abbey Church in Adare, Co Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Matthew 5: 20-26 (NRSVUE):

[Jesus said:] 20 “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

21 “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder,’ and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment, and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council, and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. 23 So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.”

The east window in Holy Trinity Abbey Church, Adare, Co Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Holy Trinity Abbey Church, Adare, Co Limerick:

Holy Trinity Abbey Church is the Roman Catholic parish church in the centre of the picturesque estate village of Adare, Co Limerick.

The Trinitarian order was founded in France in the early 12th century with the purpose of rescuing hostages taken from the Crusades in the Holy Land. A panel from the stained-glass window above the altar in Adare shows a monk about to redeem a hostage.

There were about 20 Trinitarian foundations in England and Scotland, but Holy Trinity Abbey in Adare is the only example of a church of the Trinitarian order in Ireland. The date of the arrival of the Trinitarian order in Adare unknown.

Saint James was the patron of the abbey in Adare, and it may well have been in existence long before 1226, when Geoffrey de Marisco, an Anglo-Norman feudal lord, obtained a grant to hold a fair at Adare during the eight days following the feast of Saint James.

But de Marisco fell out of favour with the king and his allies in Ireland and ended his days in exile in France.

John FitzThomas FitzGerald (ca 1265-1316), 1st Earl of Kildare, who held lands throughout Ireland, may have endowed the abbey in the late 13th century rebuilt it in 1272, when he was attempting to force his cousin’s widow, Agnes de Valence, to hand over her estates in Co Limerick.

The original monastery housed a range of monastic buildings, with an inner cloister, enclosed on four sides by a church, a dining area, dormitories and workshops.

Peter, the minister, and three other canons at Adare were accused of seizing goods from their neighbours, the Augustinian friars in Adare, in 1319. John Arbibard became minister of the ‘Hospital House of St James of Hathdar’ in 1497. Thomas de Geraldinis became minister at the abbey in 1506.

With the dissolution of the monastic houses at the Reformation, the abbey was dissolved in February 1539. Despite popular belief and local lore, the prior was not beheaded, having refused to take the Oath of Supremacy, nor were 42 monks from the abbey imprisoned.

The abbey was leased to James Gold in 1583, and it was granted to Sir Henry Wallop in 1595. But within a century, the abbey was the property of the Earl of Kildare. In 1683, he granted possession of the abbey to Thady Quin (1645-1725), a lawyer and a descendent of the O’Quin family of Inchiquin, Co Clare.

By the early 19th century, the abbey was in ruins, and the church was first restored in 1811, when Valentine Quin (1752-1824), 1st Earl of Dunraven, reroofed the church and added the north transept.

Wyndham Quin (1782-1850), 2nd Earl of Dunraven, made a gift of the ruined abbey to the Roman Catholic parishioners of Adare in 1824 and he initiated a programme of restoration that was continued by his successors.

In 1852, Edwin Wyndham-Quin (1812-1871), 3rd Earl of Dunraven, had the church repaired and expanded to fill the space that once contained the mediaeval cloister.

Dunraven employed the English architect Philip Charles Hardwick (1822-1892), who worked in the Gothic Revival tradition of AWN Pugin to restore and enlarge the church while taking care to maintain the fabric of the historic building. Most of Hardwick’s known Irish commissions appear to have resulted either directly or indirectly from the patronage of who employed him to complete Adare Manor and to carry out other work in the village of Adare.

Hardwick also built a church for Lord Dunraven at Sneem, Co Kerry. Dunraven was closely involved with Saint Columba’s College, Rathfarnham, for which Hardwick designed additions. Hardwick’s work at Adare probably resulted in the commissions he received to design Saint John’s Roman Catholic Cathedral and Mount Saint Alphonsus, the Redemptorist Church in Limerick city.

During Hardwick’s restoration of the church in Adare in the 19th century, the remains of the mediaeval church, including the nave, chancel and tower, were incorporated into a new parish church, and a triple lancet window was restored as the east window. During that time, the residential buildings on the site were also renovated and converted into a convent for the Sisters of Mercy and a school for girls.

The church as we see it today represents a fusion between the mediaeval remains and 19th-century Gothic Revival architecture in a radical building programme that lasted until 1884.

Much of the interior work and decoration was the work of George Goldie (1828-1887) of Goldie and Child. Goldie also designed a new chancel, high altar, reredos, tabernacle and east window in Saint Saviour’s Dominican Church in Limerick in 1863-1666, and remodelled the interior and exterior there in 1870. In Adare, Goldie replaced the north nave wall with circular columns, moved the nave into a new section, and rebuilt the east chapel as a Lady Chapel.

Goldie added a north aisle with decorative buttresses to the external wall, greatly increased the size and complexity of the interior, and made the mediaeval tower which, until then, had been central to the church, part of the south aisle.

In March 1884, the restored church was blessed as the Roman Catholic parish church of Adare by George Butler (1815-1886), Bishop of Limerick.

The multiple phase construction adds much of historical and architectural interest to the site. The ornamentation in the façade is focussed mainly on the openings, where fine stone work and artistic interest are found in fine stone crafting such as the floral motif stops and the elaborate and varied window tracery.

Inside, the many interesting details include the altar screen, font and pulpit, as well as early stained-glass windows and the painted and timber ceilings. The mediaeval highlights include the tower, nave and part of the choir, and the timber roofs.

A 19th-century description of the Quin Chalice of 1726 recorded that the chalice was preserved in the Roman Catholic Church at Adare. The Quin chalice is still used by the church for special occasions concerning the Wyndam-Quin family.

A major programme of critical repairs and elective works began on the roof and external walls in 2010.

As it stands today, the church presents an imposing and prominent feature on the main route into Adare from the east, which is further outlined by the tall 19th-century nave and tower.

The arms of the Earls of Dunraven in a panel in the east window in Holy Trinity Abbey Church, Adare (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Today’s Prayers (Thursday 13 June 2024):

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 ‘Estate Community Development Mission, Diocese of Colombo, Church of Ceylon.’ This theme was introduced on Sunday with a programme update. The Church of Ceylon is one of USPG’s Partners in Mission (PIM).

The USPG Prayer Diary today (13 June 2024) invites us to pray:

Heavenly Father, we pray for Malaya Makkal (‘people of the hills’) teachers like Kavitha. Give them grace as they teach, wisdom to inspire and educate and strength for when they feel weak.

The Collect:

Lord, you have taught us
that all our doings without love are nothing worth:
send your Holy Spirit
and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of love,
the true bond of peace and of all virtues,
without which whoever lives is counted dead before you.
Grant this for your only Son Jesus Christ’s sake,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Post Communion Prayer:

Loving Father,
we thank you for feeding us at the supper of your Son:
sustain us with your Spirit,
that we may serve you here on earth
until our joy is complete in heaven,
and we share in the eternal banquet
with Jesus Christ our Lord.

Additional Collect:

Faithful Creator,
whose mercy never fails:
deepen our faithfulness to you
and to your living Word,
Jesus Christ our Lord.

Inside Holy Trinity Abbey Church in Adare, Co Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

The interior decoration of Holy Trinity Abbey Church displays the strong influence of AWN Pugin’s principles (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version, Updated Edition copyright © 2021, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

The south porch of the church facing onto the Main Street of Adare, Co Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)