22 January 2021

‘It’s coming from the holy places,
Democracy is coming to the USA’

Patrick Comerford

I have slept more peacefully in my bed for the last two nights.

It’s not that the world is any safer a place: the nuclear stockpiles have not been reduced; climate change continues to threaten us with global extinction; racists still stalk the streets of our cities; there are too many crazy people who continue to refuse to wear facemasks and who oppose the rollout of the vaccines; homelessness remains the major problem it has been for far too long; and wars continue around the globe.

But I have still slept more peacefully and more comfortably in my bed for the last two nights.

Rational thought and logic return and replace fake news arguments and internet troll hysteria.

Political discourse is possible once again.

I have been able to exhale that deep intake of breath that has made me so uncomfortable for far too long.

I may find in the weeks to come that I still have nightmares.

The Greek legend of the Hydra keeps coming to mind.

Hydra was a gigantic water-snake-like monster with nine heads, one of which was immortal. The monster’s lair was the marshes of Lerna, near Árgos, and anyone who tried to behead the Hydra found that as soon as one head was cut off, two more emerged from the fresh wound.

I imagine Donald Trump as a Hydra who has retreated to his lair in Mar a Lago in the marshes of Florida, and if we think he has been beheaded we need to wary of the monstrous heads that emerge from his wounds, including the Proud Boys, the Oath Takers, the QAnon followers, the Confederate flag wavers, the gun-toting, baton-waving militia members, the Klan, the neo-Nazis …

Are Joe Biden and Kamala Harris up to the task of being Heracles and Iolaus in ending the chaos caused by this monster? Indeed, in the Trachinian Women, Sophocles told how this task eventually led to Heracles’ own accidental death.

There is a similar classical warning in the story behind the phrase about sowing dragon’s teeth.

But, for tonight at least, I am going to sleep more easily.

When it comes to contrasts with the intellectual capacity in the Trump White House, I have stopped trying to count the number of doctorates between the first and second couples.

The first and second couples represent the pluralism and diversity that American society such be happy to embrace and celebrate: a mixture of Irish, Catholic, Sicilian, English, Presbyterian, Jamaican, Indian, Baptist, Hindu, Jewish, black, white, Asian …

‘Democracy has prevailed’ is the much-repeated phrase.

As I watched this week’s inauguration, I could not help thinking of Leonard Cohen’s song, Democracy. Although he was Canadian, he spent most of his life in the US, ‘the cradle of the best and of the worst.’ This evening, the words of this great Jewish poet seem appropriate for my Friday evening reflections, with prayers of thanks for a more peaceful and a more hopeful worrld tonight.

It is a song of spiritual thirst with subliminal Biblical imagery that includes the flood, the covenant on Mount Sinai, crossing the river into the Promised Land, the Sermon on the Mount, and the Messianic age.

It is a song that combines cynicism and hope, a cynical reminder that America is not the democracy it claims to be, that racism and classes have not been abolished, but that while that time is not here yet, it is coming in its own time.

It’s coming through a hole in the air
From those nights in Tiananmen Square
It’s coming from the feel
That this ain’t exactly real
Or it’s real, but it ain’t exactly there
From the war against disorder
From the sirens night and day
From the fires of the homeless
From the ashes of the gay
Democracy is coming to the USA

It’s coming through a crack in the wall
On a visionary flood of alcohol
From the staggering account
Of the Sermon on the Mount
Which I don’t pretend to understand at all
It’s coming from the silence
On the dock of the bay
From the brave, the bold, the battered
Heart of Chevrolet
Democracy is coming to the USA

It’s coming from the sorrow in the street
The holy places where the races meet
From the homicidal bitchin’
That goes down in every kitchen
To determine who will serve and who will eat
From the wells of disappointment
Where the women kneel to pray
For the grace of God in the desert here
And the desert far away
Democracy is coming to the USA

Sail on, sail on
O mighty ship of state
To the shores of need
Past the reefs of greed
Through the squalls of hate
Sail on, sail on, sail on, sail on

It’s coming to America first
The cradle of the best and of the worst
It's here they got the range
And the machinery for change
And it’s here they got the spiritual thirst
It’s here the family’s broken
And it’s here the lonely say
That the heart has got to open
In a fundamental way
Democracy is coming to the USA

It’s coming from the women and the men
Oh baby, we’ll be making love again
We’ll be going down so deep
The river’s going to weep
And the mountain's going to shout, ‘Amen’
It’s coming like the tidal flood
Beneath the lunar sway
Imperial, mysterious
In amorous array
Democracy is coming to the USA

Sail on, sail on
O mighty ship of state
To the shores of need
Past the reefs of greed
Through the squalls of hate
Sail on, sail on, sail on, sail on

I’m sentimental, if you know what I mean
I love the country but I can’t stand the scene
And I’m neither left or right
I’m just staying home tonight
Getting lost in that hopeless little screen
But I’m stubborn as those garbage bags
That time cannot decay
I’m junk but I'm still holding up this little wild bouquet
Democracy is coming to the USA
To the USA.

Sleep well tonight, sleep peacefully.

Shabbat Shalom

A Precentor of Limerick who
moved to Listowel and was
one of the last Deans of Ardfert

Saint John’s Church, Listowel … Robert Adderley, former Precentor of Limerick (1908-1918), was the Rector of Listowel in 1918-1946 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

When a project looking at my predecessors as Precentors of Limerick was postponed some months ago due to the pandemic limits on public events, I thought it might still be interesting to continue looking at past precentors in a number of blog postings.

In earlier postings, I recalled some previous precentors who had been accused of ‘dissolute living’ or being a ‘notorious fornicator’ (Awly O Lonysigh), or who were killed in battle (Thomas Purcell). There were those who became bishops or archbishops: Denis O’Dea (Ossory), Richard Purcell (Ferns) and John Long (Armagh).

There was the tragic story too of Robert Grave, who became Bishop of Ferns while remaining Precentor of Limerick, but – only weeks after his consecration – drowned with all his family in Dublin Bay as they made their way by sea to their new home in Wexford (read more HERE).

In the 17th century, two members of the Gough family were also appointed Precentors of Limerick. In all, three brothers in this family were priests in the Church of Ireland and two were priests in the Church of England, and the Rathkeale branch of the family was the ancestral line of one of Ireland’s most famous generals (read more HERE).

In the mid to late 18th century, two members of the Maunsell family were Precentors of Limerick: Richard Maunsell (1745-1747) and William Thomas Maunsell (1786-1781) (read more HERE).

They were related to Canon John Warburton who was, perhaps, the longest-ever holder of the office, being Precentor of Limerick for 60 years from 1818 until he died to 1878 (red more HERE).

Earlier this week, I looked at Warburton’ successor, Canon Frederic Charles Hamilton, who provides an interesting links with both this group of parishes, with the Mariner’s Church in Dún Laoghaire and the Anglican mission agency SPG, now USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel), of which I am a trustee. (see HERE).

As I move to the end of the 19th and the early 20th century, Hamilton’s successor as Precentor, Francis Meredyth, was a published poet and dramatist, and some of the Precentors of Limerick were also among the last Deans of Ardfert, including Robert Archibald Adderley and Charles Gray-Stack.

Robert Archibald Adderley was descended from a branch of the Adderley family who moved to Ireland in the 17th century.

In the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries there were a number of branches of the Adderley family in the English Midlands, all tracing their descent from Thomas Adderley, who was living at Blake Hall in Moreland, Staffordshire, from the early 16th century and died in 1538.

Various branches of this family lived at Blake Hall; Coton Hall at Coton-under-Needwood, Staffordshire, north of Lichfield and east of Uttoxeter; Tunstall Hall in Shropshire; Alrewas, near Lichfield; and Hams Hall, Fillongley Hall and Weddington Hall, all in Warwickshire.

Ralph Adderley, of Coton-under-Needwood, was High Sheriff of Staffordshire (1574-1575), Custos Rotulorum for Staffordshire. He married Margaret, daughter of Thomas Bagot of Blithfield, in 1554, and died in 1598.

Their second son, Thomas Adderley, moved to Ireland at the end of the 16th or beginning of the 17th century.

Edward Adderley and his wife Mary Hale were ancestors of the Adderley family of Innishannon, Co Cork. Francis Adderley of Innishannon, Co Cork, and his wife Elizabeth (Fowkes) were the parents of Thomas Adderley (1713-1791), a politician, landowner, amateur architect, developer of the linen industry and MP.

Thomas Adderley was still a child when he inherited his father’s estate, and was educated at Trinity College Dublin. He built the town of Innishannon, Co Cork, brought 60 Huguenot families to Innishannon in 1747 to establish a linen manufactory, and built a charter school there in 1752.

His first wife, the former Elizabeth Bernard, from Castle Mahon, Co Cork, was the widow of James Caulfeild (1682-1734), 3rd Viscount Charlemont, and MP for Charlemont, Co Armagh. Elizabeth and James had at least six children before he died in 1734. Their eldest surviving son, James Caulfeild (1728-1799, became 4th Viscount Charlemont, and in 1740 the widowed Elizabeth married Thomas Adderley (1713-1791) from Innishannon. They lived in Dublin, and had one more child, Elizabeth Adderley.

Thomas Adderley was an active and involved stepfather to James Caulfeild, providing advice and help to him throughout his transition to adulthood and after. Thomas, who became MP for Charlemont, built Marino House in 1753 on property he had acquired, and presented it to his stepson, Lord Charlemont. While Charlemont was away – in London or travelling through Europe – Thomas Adderley developed and managed the Marino estate on his behalf.

Thomas was appointed one of the Dublin Wide Streets Commissioners in 1757, while his stepson James later became known as the ‘Volunteer’ Earl of Charlemont.

Back in Innishannon, Thomas Adderley’s interests included the silk industry, the linen industry, salt works, a flour mill managed mainly by the Orrs, Courderoy Mill managed by the Baker family, a carpet factory and a cotton factory.

When he died on 28 May 1791, he was buried at Saint Mary’s Church, Mary Street, Dublin. His gravestone is among those leaning against the back wall of what is now Wolfe Tone Park.

The Adderley estate in Innishannon became heavily encumbered with a mortgage of £40,000 during the life of Edward Hale Adderley (1770-1870). It is said locally that Adderley was unable to go outside his private grounds for 12 years, except on Sundays, for fear of being arrested for debt. He built an underground tunnel to Saint Mary’s Church, through his garden, and used this tunnel to move between his house and the church without being arrested.

Finally, under cover of darkness, he left Ireland at night for London, where he died about 40 years later, and the Adderley estate was acquired by Thomas Frewen and his family.

Another member of the Innishannon family, Richard Boyle Adderley, was a friend of the poet Robert Southey (1774-1843) during their time at Westminster School. He later became a barrister and civil servant and died in 1857.

Thomas Adderley of Ballyclough, near Mallow, was the father of Richard Boyle Adderley (1820-1874), a ‘schoolmaster,’ who married Ellen Meade (1831-1905) in Castlemagner,near Kanturk, Co Cork, in 1852, and he died in Douglas, Cork, in 1874.

Their second son, Robert Archibald Adderley (1870-1946), born in Cork on 16 May 1870. He was educated at TCD (BA, MA), and was ordained deacon in 1901 and priest in 1903. He was a curate at Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Tuam (1901-1905), when he married Eva Mary Charlotte Jones from Co Sligo in 1902.

Robert and Eva Adderley were the parents of a daughter Eva Mary (born in 1903) and two sons: Harry Robert Adderley (1906), who died in infancy, and Richard Raymond Folliat Adderley (1909-1975).

Robert moved to Limerick in 1905 and was Curate of Saint Mary’s Cathedral (1905-1908) and Vicar Choral (1905-1918). During that time, he was the Precentor of Limerick for ten years (1908-1918). During World War I, he was also a chaplain to the forces in 1915-1919.

After the war, Canon Adderley spent almost 30 years as Rector of Listowel (1918-1946), which was amalgamated with Ballbunion in 1922, and Brosna and Abbeyfeale in 1928, all now part of the Rathkeale and Kilnaughtin Group of Parishes.

In the cathedral chapter, he was Prebendary of Croagh (1918-1924), Prebendary of Kilpeacon (1924-1940), Treasurer of Limerick (1940-1941), and then Dean of Ardfert (1941-1946). But the position of Dean of Ardfert was a sinecure or nominal appointment: the parish of Ardfert was amalgamated with Tralee in 1921, and the Church of Ireland parish church closed in 1945.

Dean Adderley was still the Rector of Listowel and Dean of Ardfert when he died in hospital in Tralee, Co Kerry, on 12 October 1946.

Saint Brendan’s Cathedral, Ardfert, Co Kerry … Robert Archibald Adderley was the Dean of Ardfert in 1941-1946 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)