Tuesday, April 19, 2011

King James's Thunder

Spy Wednesday

This year is the 400th anniversary of the King James version of the Bible. This was a conservative but resonant document and it has influenced the English language wherever she is spoken.

All Saints church, in Raheny, Dublin 5, is celebrating the anniversary with a marathon reading of this whole bible in the lead up to Easter. Readings are broken up into quarter hour slots; readers, and hopefully listeners, make a donation to the church's roof fund.

A significant feature of this exercise is the support from the nearby Roman Catholic parish of St. Brigid in Killester. Parishioners there are providing readers for many of the slots. And this is not the only example of interdenominational cooperation between these two parishes. A recent coffee morning in Killester netted over €2,000 for All Saints' roof fund.

And the interdenominational angle doesn't stop there. The Rector, Rev. Jim Carroll, is a former Oblate father who has opted for the Church of Ireland. He is well aware that Jesus didn't distinguish between Catholics (Roman) and Protestants, Jesus himself being a Jew, as was his holy mother.

I had dropped in to listen to the readings and Brian Leonard (who organised the marathon) said it was OK to take a photo (above).

Rector Jim recalls that his Uncle Tom, whose house is just across the road from All Saints, had been forbidden, many years ago, to even enter the church where Jim is now Rector. I can recall such prohibitions from my own youth, which were very hurtful, particularly when it came to Protestant neighbours' funerals.

Holy Thursday

Was out walking the following day and dropped in again on All Saints. Readings had been going on there 24 hours a day from 3pm on Palm Sunday and were due to finish at 6pm on Holy Thursday. Brian Leonard reassured me that, much to my relief, the readings are well on, and at times ahead of, schedule. Some of the readers I had heard had been making fairly heavy weather of it.

They had just started on Romans when I arrived.

I was invited to do the next 15 minute slot and initially demurred, saying that, while I thought the project was a wonderful idea, I didn't think it was necessarily appropriate for an unbeliever to be declaiming King James from the altar. I was told that there were no visas needed in this church and it was humorously suggested that I first sign a waiver in case the Lord should smite me in full flight.

I took the 9 to 9.15 am slot and read Romans Chapters 8 to 10. Powerful stuff. First time I'd ever read it. A good morning's work, though I must admit some of the text appeared to be directed at me personally. Just as well I'm immune!

At the end I was presented with a certificate to say I had participated in this rare venture.

Brian told me that there are only about 15 such events in the world planned for this time and none in so small a church as this one (Bath cathedral etc.). Rev Jim told me yesterday that there are only about 300 families in the parish (which includes Coolock).

Good Friday

I was out walking again and decided to take a few external shots of All Saints' Church, particularly the spire which is supposed to be modelled on Salisbury Cathedral.

There was nobody around but I noticed that the door to the Mortuary Chapel was open, so I went in. It's a small chamber at ground level with a dual sarcophagus (Lord Ardilaun and his wife) and stuff around the wall, including that below:

This is the nearest thing to a posthumous DO NOT DISTURB sign. So I decided not to disturb.

Then I noticed an internal side door open and wondered if it led to the belfry, so in I went. It turned out to lead to the body of the church and as soon as I stepped in, every alarm in creation went off. The interior of the church screamed and flashed, the rectory screamed out into the ether and the gate lodge throbbed to the screeching rhythym. I got an awful fright.

So I went out and waited for the emergency services to arrive. Sure enough within minutes the Rector appeared in tennis shorts and a baseball cap. Apparently the vault door had been accidentally left open after a wedding in the morning and nobody had noticed.

So the day after reading off the altar I set off the burglar alarm. I'll be barred there soon, if the curse doesn't get me first.

Incidentally, the Rector asked me if I'd seen the can and the note. I had, and had already photo'd it.

He explained that the can, note and €20 had appeared on the step outside the vault in 2009 (250th anniversary of Guinness Brewery 1759). The can and note now repose beside the sarcophagus in case Lord Ardilaun (Guinness) or his wife get a thirst in the middle of the night.

Anyway, back to the roof. All Saints is a beautiful church, sponsored by Lord Ardilaun (Guinness) and dedicated in 1889. The roof is now sadly deteriorating and needs work done on it. Hence the round of fundraising.

I have already drawn attention to Jean Shouldice's excellent paintings/postcards, one of which features All Saints.

The photo of All Saints below was taken in December 2010 and photoshopped into watercolour.

On my Flickr page you can see: a larger version of the photo; a photo of St. Brigid's church in Killester; and a photo of the painting of St. Brigid's profession from the interior of Killester church.

Also this little gem from the RTÉ Six o'clock News for as long as it remains up.


  1. You see? You set foot inside a church and you never know what will happen. A lot in your case with one thing and another.
    That Romans is stern stuff - though the answer that came unbidden ad immediate to my mind when I read over Romans ch10, v7 was Jacques Cousteau. (Says something about my age I suppose.)

  2. That's a great post. I know the church well, and for an odd reason. Lord Ardilaun's nephew and heir, Bishop Benjamin Plunket of Meath, is buried in a tomb behind the church (not in the crypt). I wrote his entry in the Dictionary of Irish Biography. My interest in writing about him arose from the fact that, when he sold the St Anne's estate to the Corpo, he moved into Sybil Hill - the old house in the grounds of St Paul's College. It was a dower house within the St Anne's estate. When a schoolboy in St Paul's, it was the priests' house - and the imp in me was always amused that it had been the home of a Church of Ireland bishop before the Vincentian priests bought it. So that's why I wanted to do some work on him, and volunteered to write the biographical essay for the Dictionary. He turned out to be a very interesting character, and I even discovered links with W.B. Yeats and John F. Kennedy. The shell of the great St Anne's house that Ardilaun built was still there when I was at school in St Paul's, and I remember well playing in the ruins.

  3. @blackwatertown

    I don't mind churches. As an unbeliever I always feel I can walk out the door, if needs be.

    It's places like hospitals that worry me. I'm even nervous going in visiting in case something happens to me and I never come out.


    Thanks for the compliment and for sharing your mischievous memories. I look forward to reading the DIB entry.


  4. I was at a service in that church, way back in 1977.

  5. Glad you were not smote. Smited? Smitten? Smoted?