Thursday, 5 August 2021

Bindon Street and two elegant
Georgian terraces in Ennis

Bindon House, built in 1823, marked the beginning of the development of Bindon Street in Ennis, Co Clare (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Patrick Comerford

In the early 19th century, Ennis had many crooked, narrow streets flanked by older buildings from the previous centuries. Bindon Street was one of the first formal streets developed in the town. The origins of this street date from 1823, when William Greene, a local lawyer, built Bindon House, a sizeable house of roughcut limestone, on land owned by Bindon Blood (1775-1855) just off Mill Road.

Although I have grown to know Ennis in recent years, but on Bindon Street I was only familiar with Saint Columba’s Church, the Church of Ireland parish church built in the 1860s.

A visit to Ennis last weekend to meet friends as part of this summer’s extended ‘road trip’ allowed me to explore Bindon Street, with its elegant Georgian buildings, in the afternoon summer sunshine.

The fortunes of the Bindon family, and later the Bindon Blood family, can be traced back to Francis Bindon (1690-1765) was a popular architect and painter in 18th century Ireland. Bindon was commissioned to design buildings and paint portraits for some of Ireland’s most prominent figures. Perhaps his most famous portrait is of Turlough Carolan, the blind harpist. He also painted portraits of Archbishop Hugh Boulter, Thomas Sheridan, Archbishop Charles Cobbe, Dean Patrick Delaney, and several of Dean Jonathan Swift.

Bindon also designed classical country houses, including Woodstock, Co Kilkenny, Drewstown, Co Meath and Newhall, Co Clare, as well as Saint John’s Square, Limerick, and the Market House in Mountrath, and he collaborated with Richard Cassels on the design of Russborough House, Co Wicklow.

Bindon was born in Clooney House, Co Clare, into a land-owning family, Bindon. His father, David Bindon, was MP for Ennis; his mother, Dorothy Burton of Buncraggy House, Clarecastle, came from a family that controlled the Ennis Parliamentary Borough for much of the 18th century.

One brother Henry Bindon was a barrister, another brother Thomas Bindon was Dean of Limerick, and two other brothers, David and Samuel Bindon, were MPs for Ennis in 1715-1731. Bindon died on 2 June 1765 leaving his house in Abbey Street, Dublin, and much of his possessions to his lifelong friend Francis Ryan.

The Bindon interests in Ennis passed to the Bindon Blood family with the marriage of Elizabeth Bindon and William Blood. William Greene, a local lawyer, built Bindon House, a sizeable house of rough-cut limestone, on land owned by Bindon Blood (1775-1855), in 1823.

Bindon House, now No 12 Bindon Street, is a three-bay, three-storey house over basement. It has a symmetrical frontage with a restrained door-case as its centrepiece. The classically proportioned windows are simply dressed with tooled cut-limestone block-and-start surrounds.

An enclosed yard on the north side, reached from the basement area, had stables, coach houses and out-offices.

Bindon House also had a large cellar, extending from basement level, and running under what would become Bindon Street. This cellar was used as a large coal store and, indeed, all the houses on Bindon Street have vaulted coal stores, and in 1941 it was suggested that they could be requisitioned as air-raid shelters in the event of a German attack.

No 1 to 6 Bindon Street … the east side was developed in the 1830s and 1850s (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Bindon Street was laid out after Bindon House was built, and more houses were built on the street over the following decades. Charles Harvey Bagot (1778-1880), the land agent for Bindon Blood, could not find a suitable house for his family and decided to build his own. He persuaded the county treasurer and a local magistrate to build four identical houses, on the opposite side from Greene’s house.

Nos 3-6 Bindon Street were built in Georgian style. They are two bays wide and have frontages of four storeys over open basements. They are built in red brick, perhaps made locally, and have classical door-cases with fanlights.

No 3 Bindon Street has a plaque giving 1832 as the date of its construction. No 5 and 6 have their original red brick Flemish bond finish.

Bindon Blood, who had been living in Edinburgh, built another house beside No 3. This was larger than the neighbouring houses, and the under-street tunnels extended across to what had been Greene’s yard but was now a garden. Blood died in 1855 and his widow Maria converted the house into two separate dwellings, and possibly extended what later became No 1 Bindon Street.

The bay window and the pedimented limestone doorcase at No 1 are later additions dating from 1850.

The west side of Bindon Street was developed in 1836 with finance from a tontine, or subscribers’ annuity. Five identical houses were proposed and 20 shares, worth £100 each, were issued. The five houses were identical in appearance and, although smaller in scale than their opposing neighbours, share qualities in common with the earlier ones.

The five houses at No 7-11 Bindon Street are two bays wide and three storeys high over open basements. They are finished with red brick laid in a Flemish bond pattern, they have fan-lit Classical door-cases at street level and conceal their roofs behind parapets. No 7 served briefly as the County Library in 1933-1943.

Two further developments completed Bindon Street in the 1860s. The Provincial Bank, later Allied Irish Bank and now Munster Insurance, was built in 1860-1864, and Saint Columba’s Church was built in 1869-1871 on a site at the southern end of the street donated by the Blood family.

No 7 to 11 Bindon Street … the west side was developed from the 1830s (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Praying in Ordinary Time 2021:
68, Church of the Panagia Kassopitra, Kassiopi

The Church of the Panagia Kassopitra or the Virgin of Kassopitra stands on the site of the Temple of Zeus Kassios, which gives the town of Kassiopi its name (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

The prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) is focussing this week on USPG’s links with the Nippon Sei Ko Kai, the Anglican Church in Japan, and this week’s anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on 6 August 1945.

I still have some final details to attend to in my address as President of the Irish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (Irish CND) at tomorrow’s Hiroshima Day commemorations in Merrion Square, Dublin. But, before the day gets busy, I am taking a little time this morning for prayer, reflection and reading.

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 USPG prayer diary.

This week’s theme is seven churches on the Greek island of Corfu, and my photographs this morning (5 August 2021) are of the Church of the Panagia Kassopitra or the Virgin of Kassopitra, in the town of Kassiopi.

The Church of the Panagia Kassopitra dates from the fifth century (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The village of Kassiopi (Κασσιόπη), 38 km north of Corfu town, was once a traditional fishing village, but in recent decades it has become one of the many summer resorts on the affluent north-east coast of the island and a popular destination for tourists, particularly from Britain and Italy.

The small, former fishing harbour is romantic and picturesque, lined with tavernas and bars. At the top of the street leading from the harbour, the town square is surrounded by tavernas, cafés, travel agencies, restaurants and shops.

The town has been heavily developed, and hotels and villas now extending far beyond the town. But this is not any other modern holiday resort, for Kassiopi has a history that dates back 22 centuries to Classical and pre-Roman times.

The town is said to have been founded in the Hellenistic period during the reign of Pyrrhus, King of Epirus in the 3rd century BC, as a supply post during his war with Rome. The victory of Pyrrhus came at such a cost to the Epirots that it has given us the phrase ‘Pyrrhic Victory.’

Corfu was conquered by the Romans of the island in 230 BC, and successive Roman emperors, including the Emperor Nero, came to Corfu the island to visit the Temple of Cassius or Kassios Zeus (Κάσσιος Ζευς). The cult of Cassius Zeus was centred on Mount Cassius in northern Syria, between Antioch and the sea, across the Orontes from Seleucia, and in turn the temple and its cult gave Kassiopi its name.

The small headland north of Kassiopi is dominated by Kassiopi Castle, a Byzantine fortress that was fortified further by the Venetians.

The fortress survived successive sieges by the Ottoman Turks in the 16th century, and parts of the fortress walls can be seen today from the coastal roads around the headland that also perfect views of the Albanian mountains and coastline.

But the most interesting site in Kassiopi is the Church of the Panagia Kassopitra or the Virgin of Kassopitra, which dates back to the fifth century, when the ruined Temple of Kassios Zeus was converted into a church by Saint Iasonas and Saint Sosipatros.

This beautiful church is near the main street of Kassiopi, the harbour and the castle. In the Middle Ages, this was one of the most famous churches on the island. It is mentioned by Latin travellers in the Middle Ages, indicating it was known beyond Corfu as a place of pilgrimage.

The church once held the relics of Saint Donatos the Wonderworker, the Patron of Paramythia. These relics were later moved to Venice, although a small part of them were returned to Paramythia.

However, the church of Panagia Kassopitra has had a chequered past, and it was burned badly by the Ottoman Turks during the siege of Corfu in 1537.

The church was restored and rebuilt by the Venetians between 1590 and 1591 with the unusual provision of two altars to accommodate the liturgical needs of the Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic people of the town.

The church has inscriptions bearing the dates 1590, 1670 and 1832.

The most important treasure in the church is the Icon of the Panagia Kassopitra or the Virgin of Kassopitra, said to be miraculous and revered as the protector of mariners.

Each year on 8 May the church commemorates a miracle said to have taken place in 1530 when the Panagia healed a blind man. Special liturgical commemorations also take place on 15 August, the Feast of the Dormition.

Much of the church was believed to have been destroyed, but during restoration work in the 1990s parts of Byzantine frescoes dating from the 11th or 12th century were rediscovered on the walls of the church.

The main road runs through the edge of the town, but in an effort to remove much of the commercial traffic from the town centre a loop takes buses as far as the village square, about 230 metres from the harbour, and there is a car and coach park at the top of the town.

This makes the centre of the old town almost traffic free and a pleasant place to sit in shade from the mid-afternoon sun, watching life go by in the Square.

The church made Kassiopi a centre of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Matthew 19: 13-23 (NRSVA):

13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ 14 And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ 15 He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ 16 Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ 17 And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ 20 Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

21 From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.’ 23 But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling-block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’

The most important treasure in the church is the Icon of the Panagia Kassopitra (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary:

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (5 August 2021) invites us to pray:

We thank God for the gift of ecumenical collaboration in Hiroshima and around the world. May the church of Christ always seek to walk closer together, learning from one another.br />
Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

Byzantine frescoes from the 11th or 12th century have been rediscovered on the walls of the church (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 harbour of the former fishing village at Kassiopi (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)