Sunday, 11 July 2021

Watching a football final
on a summer in July in
a convent in Ballinskelligs

The former Saint Michael’s Convent above the beach in Ballinskelligs … the preferred venue for discerning teenagers for the 1966 World Cup final (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

It was a weekend in July, I was in my teens, it was summer, and it was 55 years ago.

It was 1966, and Ireland had gone over the top marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Easter Rising in 1916.

But there was a real fear that I might fail Irish in the ‘Inter Cert’ the following year. Failing Irish at the time meant failing the full exam outright, and the consequences for families were dire: repeat the full year, which still provided no guarantee of success a second time; leave school and find an apprenticeship, which was never considered in a family such as mine; or being sent to England to a school such as Downside or Ampleforth.

Three of us were packed off to Ballinskelligs for a month to learn Irish. I boarded with cousins from Co Cork and learned much from them too; and when I returned home and was asked whether I had learned much Irish I answered smartly, ‘No, but I learned a lot about French, eh, French kissing.’

During that month in Colaiste Mihichil, I also remember learning Irish dancing, boring evenings listening to the old seanachaí, reading Anne Frank’s Diaries and Catcher in the Rye, having my first smoke, and being challenged to go ‘skinny dipping.’

I was the butt of some slight humour – but all in good taste – because of what must have been a tinge of an English accent at the time. On the other hand, I remember feeling negative about that year’s commemorations of the Easter Rising in 1916. If Irish colleges were about shaping national identity then, despite my age, I realised already some people wanted to classify me as an outsider.

There was no doubt on Saturday afternoon, 30 July 1966, who was going to support in the World Cup Final. The main adventure that weekend was finding a place to watch it. Ballinskelligs was then a remote part of Kerry, it was not only part of the Gaeltacht, but it was single-channel land’ and – even then – there were few homes there with a television, and we never going to risk being caught in a pub at that age.

My cousins Dick and Tom from Millstreet came up with a cunning plan. They knew some nuns from the Presentation convent in Millstreet who were staying in Saint Michael’s Convent, the nuns’ summer house above the beach in Ballinskelligs. There would be hidden safely from anyone listening out for any teenagers at the summer college risking to speak English, to say nothing about cheering on the English football team.

Not only did the nuns welcome us, and allow us to monopolise the one television in their best room, but they even brought in biscuits, cake and soft drinks to keep us fuelled for the afternoon. For us, that alone was almost more memorable Geoff Hurst’s hat-trick and England’s controversial third goal – did it go over the line fully?

England had a 4-2 win over West Germany after extra time. It was the first only time that England hosted or won the World Cup and – until this evening – it remains England’s last final in a major international football tournament, and England’s only World Cup final to date.

We stayed right through to see Bobby Moore receiving the cup and the team receiving their medals.

We were not watching alone. The British television audience peaked at 32.3 million viewers, making it Britain’s most-watched television event ever.

When I returned in August after a month in Ballinskelligs, my parents never showed any evidence they had received any reports of my independent behaviour. And yes, I passed Irish in the ‘Inter Cert’ the following year – albeit a pass on a pass paper – and went on to finish the ‘Leaving Cert’ in 1969 at Gormanston College, Co Meath.

As I wait for this evening’s UEFA final between England and Italy – once again in Wembley Stadium – I know which team I am supporting again more than half a century later. But I am also smiling at teenage memories on a summer afternoon in July 55 years ago.

A summer stroll on the beach in Ballinskelligs (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Sunday intercessions on
11 July 2021, Trinity VI

A fresco of Saint John the Baptist by the icon writer Alexandra Kaouki in a church in Rethymnon

Let us pray:

‘Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man’ (Mark 6: 20):

Heavenly Father,
as we journey through this world,
we pray for the world, for the kingdoms and the nations of the world,
especially those nations suffering through war, tyranny, injustice and oppression.

We pray for justice, mercy and peace,
for all prisoners, especially prisoners of conscience and those facing execution,
for an end to hatred, oppression and gender violence,
that your praise may reach to the ends of the earth,
that they may know your right hand is full of justice.

We pray for Ireland, north and south,
We give thanks for all who are responding
to the pandemic crisis …

Lord have mercy,
Lord have mercy.

They ‘were dancing before the LORD with all their might, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals’ (II Samuel 6: 5):

Lord Jesus Christ,
we pray for the Church,
that we may always rejoice in your presence.

We pray for our Bishop Kenneth as he prepares to retire,
we give thanks for his faithful and caring ministry,
we pray for our neighbouring churches and parishes,
and people of faith everywhere,
that we may be blessed in our variety and diversity.

In the Anglican Cycle of Prayer,
we pray this week for the Episcopal Church in the Philippines,
and the Prime Bishop of the Philippines,
the Most Revd Joel Atiwag Pachao.

In the Church of Ireland this month,
we pray for the Diocese of Tuam, Killala and Achonry,
with which we will be united,
and for Bishop Patrick Rooke as he prepares to retire.

In the Diocesan Cycle of Prayer,
we pray for the Galway Group of parishes in the Diocese of Tuam,
the Very Rev Lynda Pellow,
and the congregations of Saint Nicholas Collegiate Church, Galway,
and Kilcummin (Oughterard).

We pray for our own parishes and people …
and we pray for ourselves …

Christ have mercy,
Christ have mercy.

‘They shall receive a blessing from the Lord, a just reward from the God of their salvation’ (Psalm 24: 5):

Holy Spirit,
we pray for one another …

We pray for those we love and those who love us …
we pray for our families, friends and neighbours …
and we pray for those we promised to pray for …

We pray for those who feel rejected and discouraged …
we pray for all in need and those who seek healing …

We pray for those who are sick or isolated,
at home, in hospital, in prison …

Ruby … Ann … Daphne … Sylvia … Ajay … Adam …

We pray for all who grieve and mourn at this time …
for all who are broken-hearted,
trying to come to terms with the loss of loved ones,
including the Casey and Gilliard families …
We remember and give thanks for those who have died …
giving thanks this morning for the life of Arthur Gilliard …
May their memories be a blessing …

Lord have mercy,
Lord have mercy.

A prayer from the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) on the Sixth Sunday after Trinity:

‘The Earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it.’
O God, We have profoundly damaged Creation.
Give us the strength to recover what we have tainted,
Amplify the voices calling for renewal.

Merciful Father …

The fifth century mosaic of the Baptism of Christ by Saint John the Baptist in the Neonian Baptistry in Ravenna (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

If you were accused of being
a Christian, is there enough
evidence to convict you?

The Execution of Saint John the Baptist … an early 18th century icon from the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian in Anopolis, in the Museum of Christian Art in the Church of Saint Catherine of Sinai in Iraklion in Crete (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Sunday 11 July 2021

The Sixth Sunday after Trinity (Trinity VI).

9.30: The Parish Eucharist (Holy Communion II), Castletown Church

11.30: Morning Prayer (MP II), Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale

The Readings: II Samuel 6: 1-5, 12b-19; Psalm 24; Mark 6: 14-29.

There is a link to the readings HERE.

Herod’s daughter dances for the head of Saint John the Baptist … a fresco in the Church of Analipsi in Georgioupoli, Crete (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

May I speak to you in the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

It is about than two weeks since we commemorated the Birth of Saint John the Baptist (24 June 2021). Now, this morning’s Gospel reading recalls the execution of Saint the Baptist.

This Gospel story is full of stark, cruel, violent reality. To achieve this dramatic effect, it is told with recall, flashback or with the use of the devise modern movie-makers call ‘back story.’

Cruel Herod has already executed Saint John the Baptist – long ago. Now he hears about the miracles and signs being worked by Jesus and his disciples.

Some people think that Saint John the Baptist has returned, even though John has been executed by Herod. Others think Jesus is Elijah – and popular belief at the time expected Elijah to return at Judgment Day (Malachi 4: 5).

On the other hand, Herod, the deranged Herod who has already had John beheaded, wonders whether John is back again. And we are presented with a flashback to the story of Saint John the Baptist, how he was executed in a moment of passion, how Herod grieved, and how John was buried.

Did you ever get mistaken for someone else? Or, do you ever wonder whether the people you work with, or who are your neighbours, really know who you are?

I am thinking of two examples. Anthony Hope Hawkins was the son of the Vicar of Saint Bride’s in Fleet Street, the Revd Edwards Comerford Hawkins. He was walking home to his father’s vicarage in London one dusky evening when he came face-to-face with a man who looked like his mirror image.

He wondered what would happen if they swapped places, if this double went back to Saint Bride’s vicarage, while he headed off instead to the suburbs. Would anyone notice?

It inspired him, under the penname of Anthony Hope, to write his best-selling novel, The Prisoner of Zenda.

The other example I think of is the way I often hear people put themselves down with sayings such as: ‘If they only knew what I’m really like … if they only knew what I’m truly like …’

What are you truly like?

And would you honestly want to swap your life for someone else’s?

Would you take on all their woes, and angsts and burdens, along with their way of life?

It is a recurring theme for poets, writers and philosophers over the centuries.

More recently, it was the theme in John Boorman’s movie The Tiger’s Tail (2006). Brendan Gleeson plays both the main character and his protagonist. Is he his doppelgänger, a forerunner warning of doom, destruction and death? Or is he the lost twin brother who envies his achievements and lifestyle?

The doppelgänger was regarded as a harbinger of doom and death.

There is a way in which Saint John the Baptist is seen as the harbinger of the death of his own cousin, Christ.

The account of Saint John’s execution anticipates the future facing Christ and some of the disciples, and Christ’s own burial (see Mark 15: 45-47). The idea that John might be raised from the dead anticipates Christ’s resurrection.

As well as attracting similar followers and having similar messages, did these two cousins, in fact, look so like one another physically?

But Herod had known John the Baptist, he knew him as a righteous and a holy man, and he protected him. Why, he even liked to listen to John.

Do you think Herod was confused about the identities of Christ and of Saint John the Baptist?

Is Herod so truly deranged that he can believe someone he has executed, whose severed head he has seen, could come back to life in such a short period?

Or is Herod’s reaction merely one of exasperation and exhaustion: ‘Oh no! Not that John, back again!’

We too are forerunners, sent out to be signs of the Kingdom of God. To be a disciple is to follow a risky calling – or at least it ought to be so.

To be a disciple is to follow a risky calling – or at least it ought to be so.

We once had a poster on our kitchen door with a grumpy looking judge and the words, ‘If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?’

Last Sunday, we heard how Christ sent out the disciples, two by two, inviting people into the Kingdom of God. But they are beginning to realise that the authorities are rejecting Christ.

Now with Herod’s maniacal and capricious way of making decisions, discipleship has become an even more risk-filled commitment.

But Herod’s horrid banquet runs right into the next story in Saint Mark’s Gospel where Christ feeds the 5,000, a sacramental sign of the invitation to all to the heavenly banquet – more than we can imagine can be fed in any human undertaking.

The invitation to Herod’s banquet, for the privileged and the prejudiced, is laden with the smell of death.

The invitation to Christ’s banquet, for the marginalised and the rejected, is laden with the promise of life.

Herod feeds the prejudices of his own family and a closed group of courtiers. Christ shows that, despite the initial prejudices of the disciples, all are welcome to his banquet.

Herod is in a lavish palace in his city, but is isolated and deserted. Christ withdraws to an open but deserted place to be alone, but a great crowd follows him.

Herod fears the crowd beyond his palace gates. Christ rebukes the disciples for wanting to keep the crowds away.

Herod offers his daughter half his kingdom. Christ offers us all, as God’s children, the fullness of the kingdom of God.

Herod’s daughter asks for John’s head on a platter. On the mountainside, Christ feeds all.

Our lives are filled with choices.

Herod chooses loyalty to his inner circle and their greed. Christ tells his disciples to make a choice in favour of those who need food and shelter.

Herod’s banquet leads to destruction and death. Christ’s banquet is an invitation to building the kingdom and to new life.

Would I rather be at Herod’s Banquet for the few in the palace or with Christ as he feeds the masses in the wilderness?

Who would you invite to the banquet?

And who do you think feels excluded from the banquet?

We may never get the chance to be like Herod when it comes to lavish banqueting and decadent partying. But we have an opportunity to be party to inviting the many to the banquet that really matters.

Who feels turned away from the banquet by the Church today, abandoned and left to fend for themselves?

And, in our response to their needs, when we become signs of the Kingdom of God, we provide evidence enough to convict us when we are accused of being Christians.

And so, may all we think, say and do be to the praise, honour and glory of God, + Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

The beheading of Saint John the Baptist … a fresco in the Church of Analipsi in Georgioupoli, Crete (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Mark 6: 14-29 (NRSVA):

14 King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some were saying, ‘John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him.’ 15 But others said, ‘It is Elijah.’ And others said, ‘It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.’ 16 But when Herod heard of it, he said, ‘John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.’

17 For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. 18 For John had been telling Herod, ‘It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.’ 19 And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, 20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. 21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. 22 When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, ‘Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.’ 23 And he solemnly swore to her, ‘Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.’ 24 She went out and said to her mother, ‘What should I ask for?’ She replied, ‘The head of John the baptizer.’ 25 Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, ‘I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.’ 26 The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. 27 Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, 28 brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.

Saint John the Baptist and the Virgin Mary … a scene in the chancel of Saint Bartholomew’s Church, Ballsbridge, Dublin (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Liturgical Colour: Green

The Collect:

Merciful God,
you have prepared for those who love you
such good things as pass our understanding:
Pour into our hearts such love toward you
that we, loving you above all things,
may obtain your promises,
which exceed all that we can desire;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Collect of the Word:

Generous God,
we thank you that, by your grace,
you have made your Son known to us,
and have adopted us as your children,
marking us with the seal of your Spirit.
Help us to praise you with all our might
and to bless others in all our deeds
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Post-Communion Prayer:

God of our pilgrimage,
you have led us to the living water.
Refresh and sustain us
as we go forward on our journey,
in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Hymns:

381, God has spoken – by his prophets (CD 23)
134, Make way, make way for Christ the King (CD 8)

Inside the Chapel of the Hospital of Saint John the Baptist in Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

Material from the Book of Common Prayer is copyright © 2004, Representative Body of the Church of Ireland.



Praying in Ordinary Time 2021:
43, Aghadoe Cathedral, Co Kerry

The ruins of Aghadoe Cathedral, Co Kerry, above the Lakes of Killarney (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

During this time in the Church Calendar known as Ordinary Time, I am taking some time each morning to reflect in these ways:

1, photographs of a church or place of worship;

2, the day’s Gospel reading;

3, a prayer from the prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel).

Today is the Sixth Sunday after Trinity (Trinity VI). Later this morning I am hoping to preside at the Parish Eucharist in Castletown Church, Kilcornan, Co Limerick, and to preach at Morning Prayer in Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale, Co Limerick.

Last week my photographs were of seven churches in Rome. This week, my photographs are from seven cathedrals or former cathedrals in the Diocese of Limerick and Killaloe.

Earlier in this series, I have looked at Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick, Saint Flannan’s Cathedral, Killaloe, and Saint Brendan’s Cathedral, Clonfert. My photographs this week are from Aghadoe, Ardfert, Emly, Gort, Kilfenora, Kilmacduagh and Roscrea.

Amhlaoibh Mór Ó Donoghue tried forcibly to move the see from Ardfert to Aghadoe (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Since my appointment as Precentor of Limerick, Killaloe and Clonfert in 2017, I have tried to visit all the cathedrals and former cathedrals in the diocese. The ruins of Aghadoe Cathedral are about 5 km outside Killarney, below the Aghadoe Heights Hotel, on a hilltop overlooking Lough Leane and the town and the Lakes of Killarney.

Aghadoe may have been the site of a church as early as the seventh century, but the present remains date from a church built in the 11th and 12th centuries.

The name Aghadoe (Achadh Deo) means the ‘field of two yews.’ Although the Church of Ireland diocese in Co Kerry is called the Diocese of Ardfert and Aghadoe, historians continue to debate whether Aghadoe was ever the seat of a bishop or a cathedral, or whether there ever was a separate Diocese of Aghadoe.

The church site at Aghadoe has been associated with the fifth century missionary, Saint Abban, and legend says that Aghadoe was linked to Innisfallen and its island monastery by a causeway across Lough Leane, the largest of the Lakes of Killarney.

Two ogham stones found at Aghadoe suggest that this was an important church site from the mid-seventh century. One stone is now cemented in the south wall of the chancel and bears an inscription transcribed as ‘Brruanann.’ The inscription may have been intended as ‘Brreanann,’ a possible reference to Saint Brendan.

A second ogham stone is now missing, but its inscription was transcribed as ‘Ggvvss Mn.’

The Annals of Innisfallen say Saint Finian the Leper, a disciple of Saint Columba, founded a monastery at Aghadoe in the seventh century. Saint Finian was part of the traditionalist party in the debate about the date of Easter. He died ca 635, and his feast-day is on 21 October.

The monastery at Aghadoe had close links with the neighbouring monastery on Innisfallen Island, and the first written record of a monastery at Aghadoe dates is in the Annals of Innisfallen in 939, when Aghadoe monastery is referred to as the ‘Old Abbey.’

Maelsuthain O Carroll, one of the finest scholars at Innisfallen, died in 1010 and was buried at Aghadoe.

The Annals of Innisfallen refer to the first stone building on the site in 1027, with the building of Damh Liag Maenig, Maenach’s house of stone. Building the round tower began that year too. O Cathail, the heir to the local dynasty of Eóganacht Locha Léin, was captured in the church in 1061, taken away and murdered.

When the Synod of Ráith Breasail delineated territorial diocese in 1111, the Diocese of Ardfert became the diocese for the Kingdom of Ciarraige (Kerry), but also included the territory of the Eóganacht Locha Léin, the dynastic rulers in the Killarney and south Kerry area.

In the mid-12th century, Amhlaoibh Mór Ó Donoghue, the leader of the Ó Donoghues – the new rulers of Eóganacht Locha Léin – began building a new stone church, later called the ‘Great Church,’ in the Romanesque style and dedicated to the Holy Trinity.

The new church was completed in 1158, and Amhlaoibh Mór Ó Donoghue tried forcibly to move the see from Ardfert to Aghadoe.

The new church incorporated part of the old stone building in its north-west section and it forms the western section of the church that remains standing today. The western doorway is in the Romanesque style, with a three-order arch decorated with geometric patterns on the second and third order while the first is plain.

When Amhlaoibh Mór Ó Donoghue was defeated and killed by the O’Briens of Thomond, his body was carried to Aghadoe and buried in the church in 1166.

The final addition to the church in the 12th century This addition served as a chancel or choir, and was later separated from the rest of the church by a wall.

The so-called nave is 11 metres long and 7 metres wide, and is entered through a fine, sandstone, Romanesque west doorway of three orders and with the remains of a fourth. It shows signs of rebuilding, and some of the stones have been reset incorrectly.

The arches show geometric patterns, and the shaft of the second order has interesting cut-away designs, while its arch has dog-tooth carving.

The south wall of the nave has been partly demolished, although one window survives, and there is a matching but smaller window in the north wall.

The Gothic chancel or choir is 13.6 metres long and 7 metres wide. The east wall has two 13th century round-headed recessed lancet windows with carved head and flower stones at the interior intersection. The north wall is at full height but the south wall is only about chest high and survives in two sections. On one section rests the surviving ogham stone, on the other portion of a weathered red sandstone carving.

References in Papal letters in the 13th century support the notion that there was once a Diocese of Aghadoe. Dionysus, Archdeacon of Aghadoe, is said to have been made Bishop of Aghadoe in 1266. But after that, the clergy associated with Aghadoe are described as archdeacons.

According to the Annals of Innisfallen, Aghadoe Cathedral’s high cross fell in a strong wind in 1282.

Dermit Y’Sylleevayn or O’Sullivan, Archdeacon of Aghadoe and Vicar of Kilcrohane (Sneem) in the late 15th century, was accused of simony in in 1455, but managed to be reappointed to his positions.

From the 16th century, the Church of Ireland referred to the Diocese of Ardfert and Aghadoe, although Aghadoe was only a deanery within the Diocese of Ardfert. The church is mentioned in a 1615 report, but it is excluded from a list of abbeys in the report suggesting it had become only an archdeaconry.

When Richard O’Connell, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Ardfert and Aghadoe, died ca 1650, he was buried in Aghadoe.

The town that survived at Aghadoe was sacked by Cromwellian forces in the 1650s. After the Caroline restoration, the Diocese of Ardfert and Aghadoe was united with the Diocese of Limerick, with Edward Synge as Bishop of Limerick, Ardfert and Aghadoe.

John Smith was Archdeacon of Aghadoe (1664-1680) and Dean of Limerick (1666-1680) until he became Bishop of Killala. His successors, Thomas Hynde or Hinde and Ezekiel Weebe were also Archdeacons of Aghadoe and Deans of Limerick.

The church at Aghadoe may have fallen into ruin in the later 17th century. Mortared onto the top of a portion of the south wall, close to the ogham stone, is a surviving fragment of red sandstone block with a 17th or 18th century carving, depicting the crucifixion, with the Virgin Mary passing a chalice to Christ on the cross and an angel. The survival of this stone suggests Aghadoe was still used as a church site in the 17th century.

Aghadoe is no longer listed as an active parish by 1740, and seems to have ceased functioning. Charles Smith, in The antient and present state of the county of Kerry, says in 1756, ‘The cathedral church of Aghadoe has been in ruins time out of mind.’

The Romanesque doorway was crudely rebuilt in the 18th or 19th century.

Many of the later Archdeacons of Aghadoe were non-resident pluralists, and in 1788 Archdeacon Richard Leslie was deprived for non-residence and jailed for debt. He later became Archdeacon of Madras and died in Fort St George, Madras, in 1818.

Sir George Bishopp was Archdeacon of Aghadoe (1816-1834) at the same time as he was Dean of Lismore (1831-1834) and Sub-Dean of the Chapel Royal (1822-1831).

Samuel Lewis, in his Topographical Dictionary in 1837, mentions that another church was being ‘contemplated’ to stand beside the old cathedral ruins. A new parish church for Aghadoe was consecrated on 18 May 1842.

One of the finest artefacts related to Aghadoe is a 12th century crosier found in 1848, now at the National Museum in Dublin. Another crosier, possibly associated with Aghadoe, was found in the Lakes of Killarney in 1867 by a fisherman, who thought it was a salmon.

Today, Aghadoe Cathedral is a small, roofless, two-chamber building. Tradition says the nave was dedicated to Saint Finian and the chancel to the Holy Trinity. But, despite these traditions and names, it is questionable whether they ever served as a nave and a chancel of a cathedral. The dividing wall shows no traces of a chancel arch, and only a small, blocked connecting doorway on its north side.

The position of Archdeacon of Aghadoe survived in the Church of Ireland until 1922, when it was amalgamated with that of Archdeacon of Ardfert, and the parish of Aghadoe was united with Killarney and Muckross.

The name of the Roman Catholic diocese was changed from Ardfert and Aghadoe to Kerry in 1952.

In the Church of Ireland, since 1972, Ardfert and Aghadoe has been part of the United Dioceses of Limerick, Ardfert, Aghadoe, Killaloe, Clonfert, Kilmacduagh and Emly. The Victorian church in Aghadoe, which was never called a cathedral, was deconsecrated on 27 February 1992. The priest-in-charge of Killarney, the Ven Simon Lumby, has been Archdeacon of Limerick, Ardfert and Aghadoe since 2016.

The Romanesque doorway at the west end of Aghadoe Cathedral (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Mark 6: 14-29 (NRSVA):

14 King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some were saying, ‘John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him.’ 15 But others said, ‘It is Elijah.’ And others said, ‘It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.’ 16 But when Herod heard of it, he said, ‘John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.’

17 For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. 18 For John had been telling Herod, ‘It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.’ 19 And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, 20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. 21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. 22 When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, ‘Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.’ 23 And he solemnly swore to her, ‘Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.’ 24 She went out and said to her mother, ‘What should I ask for?’ She replied, ‘The head of John the baptizer.’ 25 Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, ‘I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.’ 26 The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. 27 Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, 28 brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.

Inside the so-called nave of Aghadoe Cathedral (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary:

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (11 July 2021, Trinity VI) invites us to pray:

‘The Earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it.’
O God, We have profoundly damaged Creation.
Give us the strength to recover what we have tainted,
Amplify the voices calling for renewal.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

Inside the so-called chancel of Aghadoe Cathedral (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

The cathedral at Aghadoe was in ruins by the mid-18th century (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)