Sunday, 21 July 2013

Book Review : Donald Coggan "Convictions"



I have finally finished this wonderful book, which to my everlasting shame I had left on the shelf to gather dust along with a few others that I viewed as either boring or out of date. Last week I picked it up and devoured it. As regards to the author, my knowledge of this former Archbishop is very scant. Sadly this is because he falls between two of the more colourful characters that sat upon St. Augustines throne, Blessed Michael Ramsay and Archbishop Robert Runcie. 

The book is a collection of sermons, articles, and address written by His Grace during his tenure as Archbishop of York and Archbishop of Canterbury. They are wonderfully written, beautifully crafted, and skillfully developed. Although they are slightly dated, they can still be cleverly adapted to our present world. It is not necessary to go through every chapter, but there are a couple which are worthy of special mention-

  General Synod Presidential Address 4th February 1975 "True Patriotism"

In his address Archbishop Coggan outlines what it means to be a true Christian patriot. He uses examples of true patriotism found in the Old and New Testaments. He cites Moses, Hosea, and Jesus Christ and suggests that from their example the Christian may find at least thee things of value in relation to true patriotism.
i) Patriotism to a Christian means prayer, constant, deep and costly.
ii) True Patriotism may well involve the Christian in criticism of his nation and of its governmental policies.
iii) One thing bound together that great trio of whom we have been thinking this morning. It was a certain agony inseparable from a deep patriotism. 

Harvest Thanksgiving in York Minister 4th October 1974 "The Responsibility of Man"

This is a wonderful Harvest sermon and His Grace has committed exegesis on the text of Psalm 8: 6-8. He certainly hammers home the message of what is expected of man in regards to his relationship with nature. I have noticed that throughout the book, whether it is a sermon or an article the Archbishop has a deep love nature and views nature as incredibly important to the life of man. In may of the chapters of this book you will read the Archbishop extolling the virtues of a true lover of nature being a true lover of God. For how can we not love God if we do love, care, and tend his creation.

I have outlined only two of the chapters of the book, because I believe that the individual must be allowed space to think on the words of the Archbishop. Although we do not live in the same society as Archbishop Coggan (advances in technology, the internet, the collapse of the USSR) a lot of the material is still very relevant and could be redacted in such a way that it would sound like an address written last month let alone over thirty years ago.

I heartily recommend this book for all students of the Church, particularly students who may wonder at the craft of sermon writing. Especially in the Anglican tradition. The words may be old but they are still beautiful, relevant, and written with conviction. After reading this book, I certainly feel more inclined to speak with authority on the person of the 101st Archbishop of Canterbury.

Also, inscribed in this book is "The Deanery, Rosscarbery, Co. Cork." and "Arthur Gordon, Lent 1976". This book has made a terrific journey and perhaps, in hindsight, I was foolish to leave it sitting as a dust catcher. 

Monday, 8 July 2013

St. Ernan's, Donegal


John Hamilton, (1800-1884), a wealthy and philanthropic landlord, owned large estates at Brownhall in south Donegal. In 1824, Hamilton decided to build a small dwelling on St. Ernan's Island in Donegal Bay, and in due course, with the help of the local tenantry, and with great difficulty, he built a causeway over to the island. Hamilton was a good landlord, and was liked and  respected by all creeds and classes. He liked St. Ernan's so much, that he soon decided to build a much larger house there.

Over the years, this house was sold a number of times to different buyers, until it became into the procession of the Dane-Morgan family. In the early 1950s, they bequeathed St. Ernan's to the Church of Ireland. Thus, it became a holiday home for clergy families. It remained as such until closure in the mid-1970s. It is now a hotel.

The Volt House, Raphoe


The Volt House in the Diamond in Raphoe was built in 1738 by Bishop Nicholas Forster as a home for clergy widows. It was administered by the Bishop, the Archdeacon of Raphoe and the Dean of Raphoe. Now no longer a residence, the building has been tastefully restored in keeping with its 18th century style, and is used by several community organisations. Bishop Forster, a philanthropist, also built and endowed schools, including the then new premises of the Royal School, Raphoe, the Diocesan Library, and hospitals.

Tullaghobegley, Killult, St. Anne


Tullaghobegley Parish is in north-west Donegal, and includes Tory Island. The name means, "O Begley's Hill". Tully O'Begley founded a monastery in the district. There is an ancient round tower, abbey ruin and two crosses on Tory Island. One of these is the famous Tau Cross, shaped like the Greek letter "tau", T. The renowned landscape and portrait painter, Dr. Derek Hill, (1916-2000), did some of his best work on Tory Island.


The old church was replaced with a new one in 1792. A church was built at Killult, just to the west of Falcarragh, and was consecrated in 1820. This, the present church, was rebuilt in 1840. There is a tower at the west end, with a window in one side, and two doors. It has four small finials on top. Inside, the nave is lit by three square paned windows on each side, the vestry room is to the left. The east window is of three lights, and has plain, lattice glass.



The pulpit is on the left. The two chairs in the sanctuary are in memory of the Rev. William Stewart Griffith, Curate of Tullaghobegley, 1870-1876, and Rector from 1886 until his death in 1911. The font stands in the centre of the nave near the entrance, and their remains a large old stove in the middle of the church with a chimney which goes up through the roof.


The Tau Cross and candlesticks are in memory of Anne Warren, daughter of Cannon F.N. Warren, Rector 1988-1997, and Mrs Warren, who died in a tragic car accident in 1990.


On the south wall, a monument commemorates the Rev. Stewart Griffith, in whose memory the two altar prayer book stands were given.

Rossnowlagh, St. John


Rossnowlagh, "the apple wood", is a parish and village on the south coast of Donegal, to the west of the Donegal to Ballyshannon road. The parish was created originally as a perpetual curacy out of its neighbour, Drumholm, in 1831. The church was consecrated on 21st September that year, and dedicated to St. John. The Church is entered through a small porch at the west end, over which is a bellcote. There are two windows, each of two lights in the side walls, as well as a window with two lights above the porch. There are three windows of two lights in each side wall of the nave. The east window, which has three lights, is of stained glass and depicts the Risen Lord at the empty tomb. It commemorates Francis Jennings, his wife and three of his daughters, and is dated 1951.

The sanctuary is separated from the nave by three-sided communion rails, set into which, on the right side, is a prayer desk. The vestry room is to the right of the sanctuary. The Holy Table is in memory of Robert Hannah, and is dated 1932. Outside, and to the left , is the pulpit, before which stands the font. The lectern on the right side of the nave commemorates Robert Gray. There is a one manual organ by Evans and Barr of Belfast in the south-east side of the nave.

A plaque records the dedication of the lighting and heating systems in 1955 in memory of William and Hannah Smyth. Another plaque records the dedication of the entrance gates in 1963 in memory of the Thompson family. Another plaque on the west wall records the re-hallowing of the church after extensive renovations in 1995.

Clooney, Londonderry, All Saints Strathfoyle



Clooney, "the meadow", is a large parish in the Waterside of Londonderry. In ancient times, there was a chapel of Clooney in Glendermott parish. This was rebuilt before 1600, but was in ruins in 1692. A perpetual curacy was established in Glendermott parish for Clooney district in 1863. James Murray of Caw, Londonderry, granted a site for the church, which was dedicated to All Saints in 1867.

Clooney Church is well sited above the east bank of the River Foyle in the Waterside, at the hairpin bend junction of Bond's Hill and Clooney Terrace. The tower in the north west corner is surmounted by a short octagonal spire. The spire is flanked at its base by four small steep pyramids. Beneath it, steps descend to Bond's Hill below. On the Bond's Hill north side of the church at basement level, are three blind arcades. Round the corner from the west wall with its imposing west door entrance, is a porch which protrudes from the south aisle. The refurbishment of the entrance stonework is in memory of Isobel Lowry, 1983. The list of Rectors of Clooney in the porch was donated by Dick and Dorothy Harvey, 1979. The little window on the left of the porch depicts St. Patrick with a shamrock, and the window opposite depicts St. Columba. These were installed during further renovations in 2000.


The interior of the church is most impressive, as indeed is the whole building. The central nave is flanked by two arcaded aisles with short transepts contained within the line of the east end of the aisles. Three marble steps lead into the chancel, beyond which is a three sided sanctuary. Beneath the north aisle, there is a basement which contains choir vestries and other prayer rooms.

There is a small prayer desk at the west door which commemorates James Gibbons, 1969. Above the west door, there is a rose window. Above that are two stained glass windows, and over them, again a single single circular window in the apex of the roof. In the west wall of the south aisle, there is a small window of coloured glass, depicting a dove, and beside it a window depicting praying hands, the gift of the McCorkell family. On the other side of the west wall, a window depicts The Good Shepherd in memory of Thomas and Margaret Alexander and their parents, George and Mary, 1968. The baptistery is at the west end of the north aisle. The window in it depicts Jesus gathering the little children, 1898. There are two pairs of windows in the north aisle. The first pair is of opaque diamond glass. the first of the second pair is in memory of soldiers of the 5th Londonderry Battalion of the Ulster Defence Regiment who were killed of who died between 1970 and 1992. It contains the city crest and the badge of the U.D.R., and the Bible. The other window has opaque diamond glass. In the south aisle, there are also two pairs of windows. The first pair has one window which was presented by the Brownies to mark sixty years of their existence in the parish, 1932-1992. Their motto, "lend a hand" is inscribed. The other window is of opaque diamond glass, as are both windows in the neighbouring pair. The nave and aisles are separated by four arches above which are three clerestory windows of two lights on each side. The window in the south transept contains various figures in stained glass, and has tracery above. It commemorates Henry Lane, 1894. The opposite window in the north transept illustrates the "Nunc Dimittis", (St. Luke 2:29-32) on the left, and, "behold the Lamb of God", on the right. The left section is in memory of the Rev. Edward Stewart who died in 1883, and the right section commemorates his son, the Rev. John Stewart, Vicar of Clooney, 1872-1880. The three windows in the sanctuary have two lights each, and are inserted in the three sections of the apsidal east sanctuary wall. Each window has three levels. The twelve Apostles are depicted in the top two levels, and there are various Biblical scenes in the bottom levels. Memorial inscriptions at the base of the whole window record that it was erected in memory of W. S. Harvey, who died in 1870, to the Glory of God at the desire of and by the bequest of James Nesbitt. It is altogether, a magnificent set of stained glass windows. Round the base of the sanctuary is a fine marble reredos.


The altar is finely carved. Two of the four chairs in the sanctuary are in memory of Canon William Garstin, Curate of Clooney, 1905-1908, and Rector, 1914-1920. The prayer desk in the sanctuary is in memory of Mary Campbell, 1958. There is a prayer desk at each end of the choir stalls. The vestry room is to the left  of the chancel, and the organ chamber is on the right. The organ is of two manuals and pedals, and its detached console is in the north aisle. 


The pulpit on the right is of brown marble. The small prayer desk beside it was made in 1996. A small font adjacent commemorates James Moore who died in 1987.



The two memorials to those of the parish who fell and served in the Great War and in the second World War are on the east wall of the north transept. A monument on the north wall of the north aisle commemorates Lt. William Gilliland of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, who was killed at Galipoli in 1915. Margaret Gilliland who died in 1938, and Joseph Cooke who died in 1918 are commemorated on other memorials on the same wall. On the south wall of the south aisle, there is a memorial to Sgt. Major John Lowry who died in 1936, and a memorial to Martha Plummer who died in 1940.