20 October 2017

A church with a story
going back to the early
days of Methodism

The Methodist Church on the corner of Victoria Place and Queen Street was built in 1839 and is now a united Methodist and Presbyterian church (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2017)

Patrick Comerford

While I was walking around Galway last week, I noticed for the first time the United Methodist and Presbyterian Church on the corner of Queen Street and Victoria Place.

This unusual building is just a few steps immediately south of Eyre Square, tucked into a cosy corner beside the Victoria Hotel and Queen Street Bar. I probably never noticed the church before because it stands on a busy traffic route from the city centre onto the docks, close to the train station and it is often screened from view by coaches and taxis stopping outside the hotel.

The building dates from 1839, and was built on this corner site as a combined Methodist church and school sharing the same fa├žade.

The building has simple classical details in its round-headed openings and its unusual design adds significantly to the architectural streetscape of Galway. The asymmetrical arrangement of the windows and the varied openings to the porch and the top floor of the school make this one of the interesting buildings in the area around Eyre Square.

John Wesley first came to Co Galway to preach in May 1748 during his second visit to Ireland. He preached at 5 a.m. on Sunday 5 May in Athlone, and then rode 20 miles to Aughrim, Co Galway, where he attended Morning Prayer at noon, and heard a ‘warm’ sermon against enthusiasts, in other words, the Methodists.

After the service, he preached in the open to the whole congregation, and then dined with Samuel Simpson of Oatfield, before riding back to Athlone. He returned to Aughrim the next day, and then on Tuesday he travelled on to Ahascragh, where he preached at the door of the rectory. On Wednesday, he preached again, and then rode on to Eyrecourt, where he preached in the Market House.

But Wesley did not visit Galway City for the first time until 1756. He returned in May 1757, when he rode 50 miles in the rain from Castlebar to Galway, before moving on to Ballinrobe. A small Methodist society was formed in Galway in 1760, and John Wesley returned many times.

The preaching room used by Wesley in 1765 was described as a cellar in a miserable back lane surrounded by herring stores.

A new Wesleyan chapel was built in Galway in 1812 with money raised by a Mr Maberly in London (£250) and William Reilly (£150), and given to the Revd Gideon Ouseley (1762-1839) to build Methodist chapels in Galway and other parts of Ireland.

A new Methodist Church just off Eyre Square at Victoria Place opened in 1839, and was built on land donated by Hedges Eyre, and was built once again through the efforts of Gideon Ouseley.

Gideon Ouseley, the distinguished Methodist preacher behind building both these churches in Galway, was born in Dunmore, Co Galway, in 1762. His father hoped he would eventually be ordained in the Church of Ireland, but eventually provided him with an extensive farm.

He married early and lived a dissolute life, in which he gambled away his young wife’s fortune and lost an eye in a shooting during a pub brawl. But in 1791, through contact with Methodist soldiers in the 4th Dragoon Guards at Dunmore, he was converted and so set out on a career of incessant itinerary preaching.

He was fluent in the Irish language and preached throughout the west and south of Ireland, travelling on horseback and making converts to Methodism. When he died in Dublin in 1839 at the age of 77, he was buried in Mount Jerome Cemetery. His widow survived for another 14 years.

The way in which these two buildings are joined suggests the school is a later structure.

At the south-west end, the church has a three-bay gable-front and a projecting gabled porch to central bay, while the entrance door to the two-bay three-storey school to the north-east is on the first floor level.

The front elevation has round-headed windows, with limestone sills, surrounds and voussoirs. There are blank lined-and-ruled rendered walls to the south-west elevation, and these have dressed limestone quoins. There are blank raised plaques above the end windows of the church and a third plaque between the upper floors of the school inscribed ‘School House.’

The pointed-arch door opening at the porch has a tooled chamfered limestone block-and-start surround with limestone steps and double-leaf timber panelled doors. The corners of the porch have low buttresses. The square-headed window openings at the side of the porch have tooled limestone sills, block-and-start surrounds and stone lintels.

Recent concrete steps lead up to the round-headed door opening for the school on the first floor. This has a limestone surround and voussoirs, with timber panelled door and spoked fanlight. The top floor of the school has stone lintels.

There is a spired pinnacle with a metal weather vane on the pediment of the church. The pitched slate and artificial slate roofs on the school and church have cut limestone pediments.

Meanwhile, the Presbyterian meeting house on Nun’s Island had opened four years earlier in 1835. But there had been a Presbyterian congregation in Galway city since the 1600s.

The Presbyterians in Galway invited the minister of the congregation in Limerick to visit them in 1698 and to administer Holy Communion. When the Revd William Biggar arrived in Galway, he was put in prison and sent to Dublin for ‘dividing the Protestant interest.’ He was later released, he was warned not to return to Galway.

James Cusack of Merchant’s Road, Galway, was the architect of the Presbyterian church on Nun’s Island. He also deigned a Roman Catholic Pro-Cathedral on Nun’s Island and the Bank of Ireland in Galway, and remodelled the Franciscan Church.

The Presbyterian and Methodist congregations in Galway were united in 1980, and began worshipping together in the Methodist Church on Victoria Place.

The church has grown over the past 20 years with the arrival of people from different countries. The church has an alternating ministry scheme, alternating between a Methodist and a Presbyterian minister.

The present minister is the Revd Helen Freeburn. Previously she had been a pastoral assistant in Lucan Presbyterian Church, Dublin, and the assistant minister at Harmony Hill Presbyterian Church, Lambeg. She was installed in Galway in June 2013.

Trying to imagine 3 million in
years and numbers of people

Syntagma Square in Athens with the Greek Parliament and the Tomb of the Unknown Solider … the population of the Athens urban area is over 3 million (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2017)

Patrick Comerford

This blog passed another milestone earlier this morning [20 October 2017] when it reached 3 million individual hits or views within the last few hours.

I have been blogging for almost ten years, since 10 November 2007. But there were only 13 postings that year. By 2008, it was 183, 272 in 2009, 322 in 2010, 449 in 2011, and 498 in 2012. That year, this blog passed a milestone on 14 July 2012, with over half a million visitors.

In the most pleasant of ways, on 28 September 2013, I became a millionaire – although not in currency. On that autumn day, this blog passed the one million reader mark. In all, there were 547 postings in 2013.

At the time, this blog had between 800 and 1,200 hits each day, and one summer day the number of visitors in one day passed 1,500.

The number of individual hits or readers reached the milestone of 1.5 million on 13 June 2014. So, the climb to 1.5 million readers in less than nine months had been a steep one indeed. This was explained partly by a large number of attempted cyber attacks on this site since 21 November 2013, when the number of daily hits passed the 2,000 mark, with 2,004 page-views that day. This was also the day I was the guest speaker at a debate in the ‘Phil’ in Trinity College Dublin, speaking out for Edward Snowden, for freedom of information and for freedom of the media.

There were 510 postings in 2014, and it took another year before the number of hits or readers on this site reached 2 million on 11 June 2015. Part of that was caused by continuing attempted cyber-attacks on this site – with almost 3,700 hits on 20 May 2015, almost 2,700 on 3 June and over 4,300 on 11 June 2015.

By the end of 2015, I had 633 posts for the year, and the attempted attacks continued throughout the following year. In one month alone, this site had a staggering 6,415 hits on 19 October 2016, and 5,868 hits on 26 October 2016.

Then, on 14 November 2016, the number of individual visitors to this site passed the 2.5 million mark. By the end of the year, I had 724 postings in 2016.

The present monthly average for visitors is about 40,000 to 45,000, or about 1,300 to 1,500 hits a day. However, on one exceptional day earlier this month, there were 5,376 hits on 8 October 2017.

With newspaper sales figures falling steadily, most provincial newspapers now refuse to give audited circulation figures, probably because they fear losing important advertising revenue streams, and 40,000 to 45,000 is probably a higher figure than the circulation figures most weekly newspapers on these islands reach in any given month.

If there was only one hit a day, it would take over 8,219 years to reach 3 million views. If there was only one hit an hour, it would take over 342 years to reach the 3 million mark.

What would 3 million people look like if they were brought together?

There is a campaign that calls itself the3million, which is a not-for-profit group and support network that campaigns to preserve the rights of EU citizens in the United Kingdom and the rights of British citizens in the European Union after Brexit.

It takes its name from the estimated number of EU citizens who moved from another member state and live and work, and have generally established their life in Britain, many for a very long time.

This campaign aims to offer a support network for EU citizens living in the United Kingdom. It works with politicians and the British Government to preserve the rights of all EU citizens in the UK and British citizens living in other member states for now and the future. It also engages with business and public sector organisations to support their EU workers.

Following the referendum on 23 June 2016, a shockwave has been going through the communities of non-British EU citizens who have built their lives in Britain, without thinking that one day their rights to live, to work, to study, to raise a family, to run a business or to retire would be questioned. the3million was formed in Bristol in July 2016.

The Irish warlord and chieftain, Niall of the Nine Hostages, is thought to have 3 million descendants worldwide. Millions of people may be directly descended from Niall of the Nine Hostages, the most prolific warrior in Irish history. A team of geneticists at Trinity College Dublin led by Professor Dan Bradley recently discovered that as many as 3 million men worldwide may be descendants of the Irish warlord, who was the High King at Tara from AD 379 to 405.

Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in the US by almost 3 million votes, but Donald Trump won 304 electoral college votes to her 227. Now Trump is threatening to deport or imprison up to 3 million undocumented immigrants.

After his election, Trump said US authorities would round up undocumented immigrants with criminal records – a group he estimated at between 2 and 3 million people. In an interview with CBS’s 60 Minutes, he linked these 3 million with ‘people that are criminal and have criminal records – gang members, drug dealers … we are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate.’

A study conducted by the Cambridge Center for Alternative Finance has set the number of active cryptocurrency users across the world at 3 million. The figures released in May 2017 include people who use either one or more cryptocurrencies that are currently available in the market.

Figures in June 2017 showed how 3 million disposable coffee cups were collected in county clean ups in Co Kerry and Co Limerick. Colleges at Cambridge University are said to spend almost £3 million on wine a year, the equivalent of the tuition fees of 300 students.

In July 2017, German car maker Daimler says it is recalling 3 million diesel cars in Europe to improve their emissions performance. The recall covers nearly all vehicles made under the EU5 and EU6 emissions standards. The company said it will cost €220 million.

Almost 3 million people are commuting for work, school or college in Ireland every single day. Statistics released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) in August 2017 show a 9.3% increase on the 2011 commuting figure and also indicate a significant rise in the number of people cycling.

Around 3 million people visited Lichfield District last year (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2017)

Statistics published by Lichfield District Council and updated in July 2017 show around 3 million people visited Lichfield District last year (2016). They spent an estimated £96 million and directly supported over 2,300 local jobs. This claim is backed up by academic modelling (Cambridge) carried out by Enjoy Staffordshire.

This year, about 3 million pilgrims visited Mecca and Medina – Islam’s most holy places – during the Hajj pilgrimage, which came to an end last month [September 2017].

The population of the greater Athens urban area is estimated at more than 3 million, 3 million German tourists visited Greece this year, and the island of Crete alone attracts more than 3 million visitors each year.

Kyria Maria Taverna on Moschovitou street in the old town in Rethymnon … more than 3 million tourists visit Crete each year (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2017)

There are more than 3 million internally displaced people across Iraq, more than 3 million registered Syrian refugees in Turkey and there are 3 million people with Turkish roots living in Germany. The European Commission expects some 3 million asylum seekers to have arrived in the EU by the end of this year.

The population of what is now the Republic of Ireland fell to 3 million by 1926 and remained at around 3 million until the early 1970s. Countries with a population of around 3 million include Mongolia, Armenia and Albania, while cities with about 3 million people include Rawalpindi, Madrid, Pyongyang, Nairobi, Addis Ababa, Buenos Aires and Brasilia.

Recent research shows about 3 million people take part in a Church of England service on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve.

The circulation of Britain’s largest selling newspaper, the Sun, fell below the 3 million mark in 2012, and is now at 1.6 million.

The are 3 million sheep on Crete and Los Angeles has at least 3 million feral cats roaming around the city.

Channel 4 needs the Great British Bake Off to attract at least 3 million viewers per episode to break even on its blockbuster £75 million deal to buy the show. On the other hand, Strictly Come Dancing is more popular than X Factor by 3 million viewers.

An estimated 3 million Americans living in the US claim Greek descent. The total number of Greeks living outside Greece and Cyprus today is a contentious issue, but census figures where they are available show around 3 million Greeks living outside Greece and Cyprus.

Over 3 million Greeks (3.8 million) live in poverty or in conditions of social exclusion. In Eurostat statistics this is 35.7 per cent of the population and refers to data of 2015.

In Greece, seven years strict austerity, bailout agreements, wages and pension cuts and constantly high unemployment of around 25%, have brought a staggering increase in the poverty rates. In 2015, it was 35.7% of the population, a total of 3.8 million people, living in poverty. In 2008, it was 28.1% of the population. According to KTG’s records and Eurostat data, the Greek rates were 27.7% (3 million people) in 2010 and 31 per cent (3.4 million people) in 2011.

And that’s what 3 million people look like.

But to all of you who are genuine readers, thank you for this blog reaching the 3 million mark today, thank you for your kind support, for your feedback and even if you are anonymous for your potential friendship.

Walking through the Plaka in Athens … over 3 million Greeks live in poverty or in conditions of social exclusion (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2017)