Monday, 30 July 2012

The Church of Ireland

The Church of Ireland (as a Protestant Episcopal Church) is that part of the Irish Church which accepted the sixteenth-century Reformation. From the time of the Reformation for 320 years it was the established state Church, headed by the crown, and had considerable legal and political privileges. Since 
1st January 1871, it has been disestablished, and is now an entirely voluntary Church where neither crown nor parliament has any role in its government in either part of Ireland.

The Church of Ireland, as the title implies, is conscious of three things:
its claim to relate directly with Christianity from its very beginnings on the island of Ireland; and its adherence to the Christian faith in its fullness.

In response to a request to set down a number of characteristics which make the Church of Ireland and its members distinctive, a standing committee conference in 1993 produced a document of ten short paragraphs with the following headings:

1. We are Christians.

2. We are Irish.

3. We are Catholic, holding all the Christian faith in fullness.

4. We are a Reformed Church.

5. We are committed to unity within Christ's sadly divided body.

6. We are Anglicans.

7. We respect freedom.

8. We regard Worship, public and private, as priority for every Christian.

9. We are a Church affirming the place of the ancient threefold ministry of bishops, priests and deacons within our common life.

10. We believe in the equality within the Body of Christ of all the baptised.

The Church of Ireland, for historical as well as practical reasons, finds itself in a traditional Anglican position in Ireland. Theologically, pastorally and geographically it stands between the ethos and outlook of Roman Catholicism on the one hand and Presbyterianism on the other. Catholic and Reformed in doctrine, composed of members in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, reflecting an entire spectrum of political, economic and cultural outlooks while maintaining practical allegiance to "unity in diversity", the Church of Ireland has found itself, despite great pressure, reflecting a middle ground. The Church's organisation and ministry transcends political border. The General Synod, its supreme legislative assembly, is composed of elected clergy and laity from all parts of Ireland and this is reflected in all membership of boards or committees. While it's numerical majority live and worship in Northern Ireland, its members in the Republic of Ireland are fully represented in its administration, and its theological college is in Dublin.

Despite political developments which over the years have divided Ireland and her people, the Church of Ireland has managed to maintain a degree of unity which has allowed its voice to be heard clearly in both jurisdictions. It is widely accepted that the Church of Ireland has played a role in Irish life far in excess of its numerical strength. Among the other churches of the Anglican Communion, the Church of Ireland has provided expertise, advice and leadership in many important aspects of the life in that Communion.

The cause of reconciliation has been a priority for the Church of Ireland on the island of Ireland as a whole. A significant number of its members have been killed in the violence of Northern Ireland. Its bishops and members have played key roles in the peace process and in the building of bridges between divided communities.

Although it has large city parishes its real strength lies in rural communities. The farming community provides a large proportion of its membership. The movement of population in urban Ireland has necessitated the building of new churches and the creation of new parochial units. The essential priority of its ministers remains pastoral, and consequently a relatively small number of its clergy are in specialist, non-parish-based, positions. 

Given its acceptance in both parts of Ireland, the Church of Ireland has influenced political debate, political developments and community thinking in many ways. Through its role of the Church Committee it has supported the individual initiatives of bishops by an ongoing dialogue with party politicians. In all such instances the Church of Ireland has emphasised reconciliation, justice and fairness. In its liturgy and pastoral ministry the Church of Ireland reflects the historical Celtic tradition, while emphasis on the concerns of youth has given it fresh impetus in the meeting of the needs of new generation. It sees sectarianism in Northern Ireland as a corrosive and destructive element in society, and has taken a lead in combating this evil element in Northern Irish life.


The very title "Church of Ireland" conveys to its members its sense of Irish identity. At Disestablishment in 1871 this title was legally confirmed although from the 17th Century church writers had referred to the titles of the Church of England or Church of Ireland as alternative descriptions of the same body. Yet the Church of Ireland has always emphasised its separate identity, despite sharing the same doctrine and discipline as its English counterpart. 

The Irish orgins of the Church of Ireland are as varied as the traditions which make up the Irish identity. Archbishop James Ussher (1581-1656) was convinced that the faith which St Patrick professed was at one with his own, and this strong sense of continuity with the past, in particular with Celtic times, has remained influential. This was keenly expressed in a hymn written at the time of Disestablishment by the Rector of Banbridge, Canon James E. Archer

Lift thy Banner, Church of Erin,
To thine ancient faith we cling.
Ages pass yet with St Patrick
Firm we hold the faith of God.

Carrick Church

Carrick, "the rock", is a small parish south of Limavady on the Dungiven road. It was created in 1846 as a perpetual curacy out of the parishes of Balteagh, Bovevagh and Tamlaghtfinlagan. The church which is pleasantly situated on the banks of the River Roe amongst trees, is a beautiful but simple little building. It was built in 1846, and consecrated on 25th May 1847.

The church is entered through a west porch which has two small windows. Inside, the nave is a four bay hall, with gabled transepts at each side of the west end, which do not protrude from the walls. Each window has Y tracery and clear, diamond paned glass. The east window has three lights and tracery. It depicts an angel with other figures. It commemorates those who fell in The Great War.

The pulpit is on the north side, the lectern is in the centre, and the prayer desk is on the right. The Holy Table came from St Elizabeth's Church, Dundonald, Belfast. The vestry room is to the right of the chancel.

On the west wall, a monument records the restoration of the church in 1907 during the incumbency of the Rev. George Moriarty, Rector, 1889 to 1907, and a brass plaque records the incumbency of the Rev. Samuel Heaslett, Rector, 1946-1977. On the north wall, there is a memorial to the Rev.Richard Benson, Rector, 1908 to 1923, and to his wife. 1st Lt. William John Campbell, 5th Fusiliers, who died in 1843, in whose memory the church was endowed, is commemorated, as is George Williams who died in 1972. On the south wall, Bernard and Ellen McIlmoyle are commemorated.

Strange Church notice board for a number of reasons.

St Eugenius, Bovevagh

Bovevagh, "Mevagh's hut", is a parish eight kilometres to the north of Dungiven in County Derry. A monastery was founded in the area by St. Columba in 557. St Adamnan and St. Eugene are variously claimed as patron saint. The ancient ruins of a mediaeval church can be seen nearby.

Bovevagh church was ruinous in 1622, but was in good repair by 1786.

The present church was built in 1823. It is a hall and tower church to a design by John Bowden. The tower is louvered and topped by pointed finials. The porch at the base is entered through doors which were given in memory of Hamilton and Mary Connor and Nenian and Margaret Dunlop, 1973.

The window of coloured glass has a dove inst, and is in memory of the Kerr family, 1976. There are three windows in the south wall of the nave.

The first has coloured square glass panes with the Lamb of God inset. The second window has the crest of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, and is in memory of Constable Robert John McPhearson, 1976, and the third window depicts the Empty Tomb, and it commemorates Canon John Howard Kingston, Rector, 1950-1970.

The east window was installed in 1914. It depicts the Ascension of our Lord, and is in memory of the Stevenson family. The baptistery is by the north wall, before the chancel. The font was presented by the McClelland families. The pulpit on the left of the chancel was the gift of the Quigley family, 1973. The prayer desk on the right commemorates Samuel Robinson, 1973, and the lectern was given in memory of James Stevenson Hunter, who died on board the ship, Bowfell off the Cape of Good Hope in 1867. The chancel contains the choir seating which is in memory of Mary Ferguson, 1976. The choir stall and the panelling in the sanctuary were made and presented by W. J. Quigley in 1986. The Holy Table commemorates George and Margaret Scott, 1955, and the credence table is in memory of Jackie McMullan, 1947. One of the three chairs in the sanctuary is in memory of Emily Fulton, 1922. The vestry room is to the left.

Dungiven Church

Dungiven Villiage is in County Derry, 31 kilometres from Londonderry on the main Belfast Road. One kilometre to the south of the town are the remains of St. Mary's Priory. It is thought that St. Neachtain founded a monastery as early as the 7th century. The O'Cahan tomb is in the ruin, and contains some of the finest mediaeval tracery in the north-west. The priory became Augustinian about 1140, and was suppressed by the beginning of the 17th century.

At the time of the Plantation, a church was built by the Skinners' Company on the site of the priory. The fact that the name Dungiven means, "the fort of the skins" is coincidental. Its name has also been translated, "the pleasant mount"

A new church was built at the head of the town in 1718. This was replaced by the present church which was built on the same sight in 1816. It is cruciform, with nave and transepts, and a louvered tower at the west end. The bell in the tower was the gift of Edward Cary of Dungiven Castle in 1712.

The entrance to the church is through the porch at the base of the tower. The window in the west tower wall illustrates the text, "follow me and I will make you fishers of men", and is in memory of Canon John H. Kingston, Rector of Dungiven 1950-1970. In the nave, there is one diamond- paned window with Y tracery on each side, and likewise in the west wall of both transepts. In the north wall of the north transept, a stained glass window of three lights depicts from left to right, Nehemiah, The Good Centurion, and Ezra. It commemorates Robert Alexander Ogilby who died in 1902.

Opposite in the south wall of the transept, a window of two lights and tracery, shows the women at the Empty Tomb, in memory of Esther Gladys Ogilby, 1900. The window of the north wall of the chancel depicts Jesus gathering the little children, and it commemorates Jane King who died in 1890, and her daughter. The east window has three lights and tracery. It  illustrates the prable of the Sheep and the Goats, and in memory of James Ogilby who died in 1885.

 The baptistery is in the north-west corner of the church. The Holy table is in memory of John Trewlawny Ross, D.D., Curate of Dungiven from 1876 to 1879 and again from 1883 to 1886. The chairs in the sanctuary are in memory of George and Mary Sharp Ward, 1936. The pulpit is below on the left and in memory of Martha Cromie who died in 1944. The prayer desk on the right is in memory of Canon James Kelly, Rector of Dungiven from 1930 to 1950. It and the seat are finely carved. The brass eagle lectern on the left commemorates the Rev. Alexander Ross, Rector of Banagher and panelling on the sanctuary is of good quality. The organ has two manuals and pedals, and was made by the firm of Fosters and Andrews of Hull in 1878. The cushions in the choir stalls and the lectern microphone were given in memory of Eric Scott who died in 1895.

On the west wall, a monumet records various benefactors from the Ogilby family and from the Skinners' Company. The Ogilbys, an old family, resided at Pellipar House near Dungiven. The mausoleum near the main entrance to the church is one of their burying plots.

On the south wall, there is a memorial to Lt. Samuel McDonnell Campbell of the 3rd Lancashire Fusiliers who was killed in action in 1916. There is a monument commemorating the Ross family of Springhill, Dungiven on the north wall of the nave.

On the west wall of the north transept, a monument commemorates Canon George Warren, Rector 1886-1930 and his family. On the east wall of the north transept are the memorials to those who fell in the Great War, and to John Semple Moore who died in 1899. On the south wall of the south transept, are the memorials to Mildred Morley, daughter of Robert and Helen Ogilby who died in 1945, and to Mabel Crocker, daughter of Captain R. Ogilby, who died in the same year. On the east wall of the south transept, there are memorials to Michael King who died in 1899, to the Rev. Edward French, Rector 1823-1849, and to Esther Ogilby who died in 1900.

A memorial on the east sanctuary wall commemorates Michael King, son of the Rev. John King, Rector of Upper Fahan, who died in 1891, and his wife Matilda. A plaque on the same wall records renovations to the chancel in memory of Canon William Ross, Rector Dungiven, 1850 to 1886, who died in 1891.

St. Canice, Balteagh

Balteagh Parish is situated just to the south of Limavady. The name means "the town, or hut of the two ravens". The Patron Saint was Canice. In the 1622 survey it was reported that the church was in ruins.   
These ruins can still be seen opposite the present church. By 1768, the church was in good repair.

The church which exists today was built in 1815. It is a typical hall and tower church, which is entered through a porch in the base of the tower.

The main dower is in memory of Hadessa Hylands who died in 1983. Inside, the baptistery is in the north-west corner of the nave. The font has a beautiful covering which has a gold leaf bird on top. The baptistery and the font bowl commemorate Jill, infant daughter of Sir Patrick and Elizabeth Macrory, who died in 1947 aged two months. The pulpit on the right of the chancel has three decorated panels, the centre one of which illustrates The God Shepherd. It dates from 1896, when renovations to the church were made during the incumbency of the Rev. (later Dean) R.G.S.King. 

These renovations included the tiling of the church and the fine oak panelling in the sanctuary. The Holy Table and the reredos are finely carved. The credence table is in memory of Annie and Henry Rodgers, and there are fine wrought iron communion rails with gilded patterns. The wooden eagle lectern reflects the pulpit. The prayer desk on the right, adjacent to the pulpit, is in memory of Dean King, Rector of Balteagh, 1896-1899. The organ, which is set in a chamber to the left of the chancel was installed in 1913. It was built by the firm of Evans and Barr of Belfast to a design of the Rev. Wilfred Dixon, Rector 1910-1942. It has one manual and pedals. The lighting in the church was installed to commemorate Sir M. Macrory in 1951. The vestry room is behind the sanctuary to the right.

There are four windows in the south wall, which have diamond-paned, clear glass and Y tracery. The fourth window has a coloured inset. The two windows in the north wall were installed in 1896, and have square-paned clear glass. There is a little window in the organ chamber with coloured glass.

A monument on the west wall commemorates the Rev. William Horatio Stack, Rector of Balteagh from 1852 until his death in 1863. On the north wall, the Rev. Samuel J. Heaslett, Rector, 1946-1977, is commemorated, and on the south chancel wall, there is a memorial to John Buchanan, organist of Balteagh who died in 1924.

Sunday, 29 July 2012