09 September 2019
Taking part in the Patronal
Festival in Saint Mary’s
I spent much of Sunday afternoon [8 September 2019] in Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick, where I am the canon precentor. Sunday was the Feast of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and we had already marked this day in the Church calendar in both Castletown Church and Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale.
But it was a special day in Saint Mary’s Cathedral, where the cathedral community and the cathedral friends celebrated the Patronal and Friends’ Festival.
Archbishop Walton Empey, who as Archbishop of Dublin was my ordaining bishop, and who is a former Dean and Bishop of Limerick, was the preacher at the Choral Eucharist in the morning.
In addition, the Friends’ lunch and annual general meeting took place in the cathedral, as well as the dedication of gifts, including lighting for the reredos, refurbished chapter chairs and cushions for the choir and chapter stalls.
I sat in those chapter stall in the afternoon during Choral Evensong at the close of the festival, along with other chapter members.
The current edition of Doorways (Autumn 2019, Vol 1 No 2), the friends’ newsletter includes an edited version of a blog posting from earlier this year:
The Dean of Limerick, the Very Revd Niall Sloane, presented me with a medal to wear as the Precentor of Limerick. It is traditional for deans to wear a medal displaying the seal of their cathedral, and many precentors in cathedrals in the Church of England wear a similar symbol of office. But I think I may be the first precentor in a cathedral in the Church of Ireland to have been presented with a medal of office bearing the precentor’s seal.
The seal shows the Virgin Mary with the Christ Child, with a mediaeval precentor of Saint Mary’s kneeling in prayer in the cathedral.