14 March 2014

Contemplating summer sun and
sand by the beach in Greystones

The sun setting behind the beach and beyond the railway line in Greystones, Co Wicklow, late this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2014)

Patrick Comerford
It’s another two weeks or more before summer time officially begins on 30 March. But Spring has truly arrived in this part of Ireland. The buds on the lawn and beneath the trees are turning into flowers, the blossom is spreading along the branches of the cherry tree outside my house, the morning birdsong starts earlier and earlier, and – as Irish people love to say this time of the year – “there’s a grand stretch in the evening.”

Although yesterday began as what one commentator from Cheltenham described as a “pea-souper,” and the heavy cloud cover in Dublin never truly lifted yesterday or today, there were striking pink and purple streaks in the sky to the west and south this evening all the way back from Greystones, Co Wicklow.

After a lengthy working week that had followed a full working weekend, two of us left south Dublin in mid-afternoon for a late lunch in the Happy Pear and a walk on the beach in Greystones.

Sea and sand ... the beach in Greystones this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2014)

On the way to the Happy Pear, we picked up four holiday brochures in Phoenix Travel on Church Road, near the Dart and train station. We pored over those brochures upstairs in the Happy Pear, contemplating a week in the sun and close to sand later this year. Greece? Turkey? When? Where?

Down on the beach, there were few people on the sand as we watched the small waves lap against the shore. To the west, beyond the railway line, the sun was beginning to set slowly behind the Burnaby Estate.

Back in Greystones, it was obvious the town was looking to forward to Saint Patrick’s Day and the Bank Holiday weekend. Green flags were fluttering, and shop windows were decorated in green-white-and-orange shops and many restaurants were advertising special menus.

Green lights in Temple Bar herald the arrival of the Saint Patrick’s Weekend (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2014)

The previous evening, we had strolled though Temple Bar after dinner in the Italian Corner. There too, there were green lights strung across the narrow streets, and buskers and street artists regaled in forty shades of green. The large number of tourists whose faces were filled with anticipation, and who had their hair streaked in green, indicates that if the weather holds up or even improves this could be a wonderful weekend in Dublin.

And an Irish win in Paris tomorrow [Saturday] would add to the joy and the glory.

Meanwhile, as we returned to Dublin this evening, it was still bright after 6.30. This is a blessed season to enjoy and to be thankful for prayerfully.

Pink and purple streaks in evening sky in Co Wicklow this evening (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2014)

Εορτασμός εθνικών επετείων και
συμπαράσταση προς την Κεφαλλονιά.

A photograph from Corfu on the wall of Corfu in Parliament Street

Αγαπητά μέλη και φίλοι

Η Ελληνική Κοινότητα Ιρλανδίας και η Ελληνορθόδοξη Κοινότητα Ιρλανδίας διοργανώνουν εορταστικό δείπνο με την ευκαιρία των Εθνικών Επετείων της Ελλάδας (25η Μαρτίου, ημέρα εθνικής παλιγγενεσίας και ξεσηκωμού κατά του Οθωμανικού ζυγού) και της Κύπρου (1η Απριλίου, επέτειος της έναρξης του εθνικοαπελευθερωτικού αγώνα της Κύπρου κατά των Βρεττανών κατακτητών). Παράλληλα αισθανόμαστε πως είναι χρέος μας σαν παροικία της Διασποράς να συμπαραστεκόμαστε στα αδέλφια μας στην Ελλάδα και Κύπρο. Έτσι τα έσοδα που θα συλλεχθούν από την αυτήν την εκδήλωση θα σταλούν στην Κεφαλλονιά προς βοήθεια των κατοίκων μετά τους πρόσφατους καταστρεπτικούς σεισμούς.

Η εκδήλωση θα λάβει χώρα την Κυριακή 30 Μαρτίου 2014 στις 6:30 μμ στο Ελληνικό εστιατόριο Corfu, 12 Parliament Street, Dublin.

Η τιμή του εισητηρίου θα είναι 25 ευρώ το άτομο, από τα οποία τα 16.5 ευρω θα διατεθούν για την πληρωμή του εκάστου γεύματος ενώ τα υπόλοιπα 8.5 ευρώ από κάθε εισητήριο θα διατεθούν υπέρ των σεισμοπαθών της Κεφαλλονιάς. Τα παιδιά κάτω των 12 ετών θα εισέρχονται με 15 ευρώ εκ των οποίων τα 9 ευρω θα διατείθενται για το γεύμα και τα εναπομείναντα 6 ευρώ θα συλλεχθούν για τον έρανο. Τα πολύ μικρά παιδάκια, βρέφη και νήπια θα εισέρχονται δωρεάν.

Επίσης θα υπάρξει και λαχειοφόρος για την περαιτέρω ενίσχυση του εράνου και ευχαριστούμε τον φίλο και συμπατριώτη μας Πέτρο Κόνσουλα που ήδη έχει προσφέρει μια από τις καλλιτεχνικές του δημιουργίες. Κάθε άλλη προσφορά για τη λαχειοφόρο από όλους μας θα ήταν ευπρόσδεκτη. Ευχαριστούμε επίσης τη διεύθυνση του εστιατορίου που προσέφεραν το χώρο τους και τα γεύματα σε τιμή κόστους. Λεπτομέρειες για τα μενού προσεχώς.

Για την κράτηση θέσεων παρακαλούμε να αποστείλετε ηλεκτρονικό μήνυμα στη διεύθυνση thomae.kakouli_at_itcarlow.ie μέχρι την Τετάρτη 26 Μαρτίου 2014. Παρακαλούμε να κάνετε τις κρατήσεις σας εγκαίρως για να αποφύγετε απογοήτευση.

Με εκτίμηση

Το Εκκλησιαστικό Συμβούλιο και το ΔΣ της Ελληνικής Κοινότητας

IOCS conference in Cambridge looks at ‘Horizons
and Limitations of Russian Religious Philosophy’

Patrick Comerford

The Institute of Orthodox Christian Studies in Cambridge gas announced preliminary details of this year’s annual conference, which takes place from 8-10 September 2014, in Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge.

The conference will address the topic: “Logos – Cosmos – Eros: Horizons and Limitations of Russian Religious Philosophy.”

The aim of the conference is twofold:

1, First, it discusses and evaluates the reception of Byzantine theology and philosophy by Russian religious thinkers in the 19th and 20th century.

2, Second, the conference will examine the relevance of Russian religious philosophy to the contemporary world. The conference will explore how far these vast but largely untapped intellectual resources can help us construct a genuinely Christian vision of God, of the world and of the self in the 21st century.

The speakers include:

● Metropolitan Kallistos Ware
● Dr Clemena Antonova (Institute for Human Sciences, Vienna)
● Dr Ruth Coates (University of Bristol)
● Dr Brandon Gallaher (University of Oxford)
● Revd Prof Nikolaos Loudovikos (University Ecclesiastical Academy of Thessaloniki)
● Revd Prof Andrew Louth (University of Durham)
● Prof Artur Mrówczynski-Van Allen (Institute of Philosophy Edith Stein, ICSCO, Theological Institute Lumen Gentum, Granada)
● Dr Christoph Schneider (IOCS)
● Dr Natalia Vaganova (Saint Tikhon’s Orthodox University, Moscow)
● Prof Evert van der Zweerde (Radboud University Nijmegen)

The programme includes an optional day-trip to the Patriarchal Stavropegic Monaster of Saint in Tolleshunt Knights, Essex.

Further details of the conference are available here.

Flowers in Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, during last year’s summer school (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

Art for Lent (10): ‘Stations of the Cross,’
Firhouse (1991-1992), by Imogen Stuart

Three stations from Imogen Stuart’s Stations of the Cross in Firhouse: 2, Jesus takes up the Cross; 5, Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the Cross; and 7, Jesus falls the second time

Patrick Comerford

Last Sunday afternoon, during my visits to my old school Gormanston and my walks along the beach in Bettystown, Co Meath, I took time to reflect on the carved, outdoor Stations of the Cross in the Franciscan community graveyard in Gormanston, and the stark, modern Stations of the Cross designed by Caroline Bond in the Church of the Sacred Heart, Laytown.

Few Anglican churches have Stations of the Cross, although I am familiar with those in Saint John’s Church, Sandymount, Co Dublin, and the Chapel of Saint John’s Hospital, Lichfield.

It strikes me that meditating on the Stations of the Cross is appropriate exercise in Lent, particularly on Fridays in Lent.

On Sunday afternoon, I was also reminded of the beauty of the very modern Stations of the Cross in the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, in Firhouse, Co Dublin, carved in teak by Imogen Stuart.

I have chosen three of these stations as my work of Art for Lent this morning [14 March 2014].

Imogen Stuart’s work can be seen many Roman Catholic and Church of Ireland churches throughout Ireland. She works in wood, stone, bronze, steel, clay, plaster and terracotta, and her influences range from German expressionism to early Irish Christian art, including stone-carving and metalwork.

Imogen Stuart was born in Berlin in 1927, where her father was an art critic and the editor of a cultural journal. She was a 12-year-old shopping in an elegant Berlin department store when World War II broke out. She was evacuated with her mother and sister , first to Bavaria and later to Vienna, but her father, who was half-Jewish, had to go underground to avoid the Nazis.

After World War II she was became a pupil of Otto Hitzberger, an acclaimed sculptor and former professor of the National College of Fine Art in Berlin. She spent five years working with him and developing the skills that enabled her to work in a variety of media – wood, bronze, stone, stained glass, etching and terracotta.

In 1948, she met Ian Stuart, who had come to Germany to study sculpture. His father was the novelist Francis Stuart, and his mother Iseult was the daughter of Maud Gonne.

In 1948, she held one of her first exhibitions in the Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin.

Imogen and Ian married in 1951 and moved to Ireland that year, and at first they lived in in Laragh, Co Wicklow, where they had no electricity or running water.

Her sculptures have been seen in churches and public places throughout Ireland, including Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, Saint Patrick’s Purgatory, Lough Derg, Co Donegal, and the church at Dublin Airport.

She got on well with Irish priests but had a notable and oft-recalled confrontation with Bishop Michael Browne of Galway over the bronze doors she created for the new cathedral.

Her works include: the metal Main Doors and Reliefs, Galway Cathedral (1963-1964); the granite grave of President Erskine Childers (Derralossary, Co Wicklow, 1979); Pope John Paul II in bronze outside the library in NUI Maynooth (1986), the Arch of Peace, Market Square, Cavan (1989); the limestone Fountain Wall with 18 reliefs) in Knock, Co Mayo (1991); Madonna in bronze, in the Lady Chapel, Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin (1991); and the granite Standing Stone in the Church of Ireland College of Education, Rathmines (2001).

Her work is in the National Self-Portrait Collection in Limerick, and she has exhibited at the Salzburg Biennale (1962); the Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery, Dublin (1987); and the Solomon Gallery, Dublin (1996, 1997, 2002). She has received the Oireachtas art exhibition award (1972) and the ESB Keating McLoughlin award at the RHA annual exhibition (1999), among others.

She was elected Professor of Sculpture at the RHA in 2000, and a retrospective exhibition of her work was held at the RHA in 2002. She has received honorary degrees from Trinity College Dublin (2002), UCD (2004) and the NUI Maynooth (2005).

Imogen and Ian separated in 1970, and she suffered further personal tragedy when her daughter Siobhán died as a result of a car accident in 1988. Her daughter Aisling runs a family guest house at Rosnaree near Slane, Co Meath, where she runs a Summer school for artists.

In an interview with RTÉ in 2012, she described her decision to move from being a Lutheran to being a Roman Catholic. But she now thinks that artists have their own way at looking at God and at religion.

Her teak Stations of the Cross in Firhouse date from 1991-1992. In these Stations, she produces part images that tell the story of the way of the cross by selecting significant details, such as a hand – nailed and roped – representing Christ nailed to the cross, or two hands in a bowl for Pilate washing his hands.

She said later: “My idea is to give the impression that I was in possession of the accrual cross on which Our Lord was crucified and that I cut and carved these fourteen stations from it. At the beginning, I help the viewer to recognize each station, but after the third they have to walk them alone, without help. My purpose is to help the praying person to look at the stations in a fresh light and mediate on the mysteries present.”

This morning, I have chosen two of those stations, Station 2, Jesus takes up the Cross, Station 5, Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the Cross, and Station 7, Jesus falls the second time.

2, Jesus takes up the Cross

The hands of Christ grasp the cross as he takes upon himself my sins and the sins of all the world.

Lord it is for love of me that you take up the cross and place it upon your bruised and bleeding shoulder.

For the times I have burdened others with my selfishness,
Lord have mercy.

Response: We adore you, O Christ and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

5, Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the Cross

The strong hand of Simon takes some of the burden of the cross and eases the weight on the shoulders of Jesus.

Lord, you are the creator of heaven and earth, yet you need the help of my hands to carry out your work of mercy in this world.

For the times I have done nothing to ease the burden of others,
Lord have mercy.

Response: We adore you, O Christ and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

7, Jesus falls the second time

Once again, Jesus loses his footing and falls full length upon the hard unyielding street. Lord, you know that my heart is as hard and unyielding as the street on which you fall. Help me to weep for your sufferings.

For the times I have hardened my heart against your grace,
Lord have mercy.

Response: We adore you, O Christ and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

The Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Firhouse is open on Sundays until about 1p.m. and on weekdays for a short time after 10 am Mass.

The Stations of the Cross by Caroline Bond in the Church of the Sacred Heart, Laytown, Co Meath (Photographs: Patrick Comerford, 2014)

Tomorrow: Art for Lent (11): ‘Balaclava’ (1876), by Lady Elizabeth Butler.