‘The great crusade? The Church of Ireland and interpretations of the Second World War, 1939-45’

As part of the Church of Ireland Historical Society’s commitment to supporting postgraduates and their research, we asked the 2018 W. G. Neely Postgraduate Prize Winner, Mathew Houston, to write a short blog about his essay. Here’s what he had to say.

This paper stemmed from my PhD thesis which examined how leaders within the four largest Christian denominations in Northern Ireland responded to the challenges presented by the Second World War. That research encompassed the sermons of John Allen Fitzgerald Gregg, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, which are held in the Armagh Robinson Library. Gregg, a revered figure within the Church of Ireland, effectively represented the views of much of his clergy. As such, this sermon material functioned as the foundation of my paper.

Archbishop Gregg and Dean Kerr (from the Belfast NewsLetter, 18 April 1942)

By drawing on the content of Gregg’s wartime sermons, my paper discussed how the clergy of the Church of Ireland based in Northern Ireland viewed the war. To better elucidate the denomination’s interpretation of the conflict, it made occasional reference to the sermons and public addresses of other leading clergy. It sought to contextualise the Church of Ireland’s interpretation of World War II by comparing the rhetoric of its clergy to that employed by significant clerics of the Church of England.

For the most part, the interpretation of the Second World War held by many Church of Ireland clergy was similar to, and influenced by, that of many leaders in the Church of England. During the 1920s and 1930s, Anglican church leaders on both sides of the Irish Sea were committed to preserving peace at almost any cost. Even in the face of Nazi Germany’s aggression, clerics remained committed to peace until around March 1939 when war seemed inevitable. Despite its apparent imminence, most churchmen only reluctantly accepted the necessity of conflict against Nazism.

Archbishop Gregg (from the Northern Whig, 26 Jan. 1939)

After the outbreak of war in September 1939 the majority of Protestant church leaders in Northern Ireland spoke out in support of the British war effort. Some clerics in Northern Ireland were more belligerent than their English counterparts because of their commitment to the unionist political agenda, although this was more common among Presbyterians than their Church of Ireland counterparts. Gregg and his colleagues adopted an increasingly bullish interpretation of the war after the fall of France in 1940. They deployed the language of crusade, describing Britain as a divinely appointed agent in a war to remove the threat which Nazism posed to Christianity.

In preparing for peacetime, prominent clergymen in the Churches of Ireland and England regularly offered suggestions for the shape of the post-war world. These suggestions, though varied, shared a common theme. Christianity, and therefore the church, were the best guarantee of lasting international peace. The great crusade for Christianity, deemed a military success, could not be jeopardised through an unsatisfactory peace agreement.

Matthew Houston is a graduate of Queen’s University, Belfast. His research interests broadly include the functions of public and private religiosity in the United Kingdom and Ireland during the 1930s and 1940s. He successfully defended his thesis in November 2018. Matthew’s PhD was entitled ‘The churches, Northern Ireland and the Second World War’ and his supervisor was Dr Andrew Holmes. He will collect the W.G. Neely Postgraduate Prize at the Society’s conference on 6 April 2019, which will be held at Armagh Robinson Library.

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The Weekend Read: Publication of early 19th-century architectural albums online

The project to digitize, catalogue and make available online the Church of Ireland’s collections of architectural drawings of churches housed in the Representative Church Body (RCB) Library has reached another significant landmark, with the completion of imaging ten albums of early 19th-century drawings of churches, amounting to some 1,500 drawings. All digital copies of these drawings which cover a total of 591 different church buildings have now been uploaded to the searchable database at https://archdrawing.ireland.anglican.org/items and are now freely available for viewing and searching. 

Sustained commitment from the Church’s central funds and specific donations from particular dioceses has enabled this huge project – which originally commenced in 2011 – to continue apace, with the result that a total of 8,615 drawings for some 1,558 church buildings, and a further 73 glebe houses and rectories are now available online. The work has been assiduously carried out for the RCB by architectural historian Dr Michael O’Neill who additionally has put together a specific online exhibit focusing on the album content.

The Pain and Welland albums – as they are known in-house among Library staff – comprise some eight albums of survey drawings and two albums of working drawings commissioned by the Board of First Fruits and Ecclesiastical Commissioners of Ireland. In historical terms they collectively can be regarded as part of the inventory work of the newly established Ecclesiastical Commissioners in 1833 getting to grips with its role – taking over from the Board of First Fruits in church building and repairs. 

South-west elevation of Innishannon parish church (Cork), mid-19th century, by Joseph Welland, © RCB Library Ms 139/4.1

The ten albums, or rather eight of the ten (the final two contain proposals and working drawings), record the result of frenetic building activity by the Board of First Fruits (founded in 1711) in the period 1784 to c.1827, when the Board’s funds were very significantly increased by parliamentary grants. During the years 1808 to 1821 government funding was enormous and restrictions on church rebuilding were lifted. The Board also provided significant loans for the building of glebe houses.

The six earliest albums contain drawings by the architect of the Board of First Fruits James Pain (c. 1779-1877) and record the churches in the dioceses of Cashel and Emly (44 churches), Cloyne (65 churches), Cork and Ross (78 churches), Killaloe and Kilfenora (59 churches), Limerick and Ardfert (72 churches), and Waterford and Lismore (39 churches), totalling 357 churches. Pain generally provided a ground plan, showing the internal arrangements, an external elevation, and a site plan for each church.

The four later albums contain the drawings by Joseph Welland (1798-1860). Welland was born in Midleton, Co. Cork, and trained in the office of John Bowden, the first architect employed by the Board of First Fruits. When Bowden died in 1822, Welland inherited some at least of his practice and also became provincial architect for the province of Tuam. Two of his albums cover the ecclesiastical province of Tuam and part of the province of Armagh. They cover the dioceses of Killala (11 churches), Achonry (nine churches), Ardagh (11 churches), Elphin (28 churches), Kilmore (28 churches), Meath (64 churches), Tuam (26 churches), Clonfert (10 churches), and Kilmacduagh (four churches). Ardagh, Kilmore and Meath were in Armagh province, the other dioceses were in Tuam province.

West elevation of Middleton parish church (Cloyne), c. 1820-1840, by James Pain, © RCB Library Ms 138/2.55

Welland devoted a single page to each church, providing a ground plan with the internal arrangements rendered in detail and a site plan. Unfortunately, he did not provide elevations and, as a result, the massing of the buildings cannot be as easily read as with slightly earlier Pain inventories.

These drawings are of First Fruit churches – rectangular buildings with a west tower – which remain iconic features of the Irish landscape. Often dramatically located, sometimes in seemingly isolated places, they generally replaced medieval churches on the same sites. They mark medieval settlement patterns in what is the palimpsest of the Irish landscape which is now largely overlain with the 18th-century field system. The Church of Ireland inherited the apparatus of the medieval Irish Church, and some of the sites are from an even earlier dispensation.

Collectively the albums provide a key source for understanding the major First Fruits church building phase (1780s to 1820s), many of which were subsequently repaired, rebuilt or extended from the later 1830s to the late 1860s. The inventory work that they capture actually coincided with the Ordnance Survey mapping project of the whole country, which definitively mapped the civil (Church of Ireland) parishes, a project not undertaken since the 17th-century Down Survey. As with the Ordnance Survey Letters (John O’Donovan et al), and the recording of antiquities by George Petrie and George Victor Du Noyer, Pain and Welland also knowingly recorded quite a significant number of medieval churches, still then in use. Inevitably, many of these too were replaced in the ensuing decades.

The RCB Library is most grateful to Dr O’Neill for his painstaking and enthusiastic work for over eight years to make sense of the Church of Ireland’s immensely rich architectural collections and ensure they can be appreciated by a worldwide audience.

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Book launch! Protestant and Irish: the minority’s search for place in independent Ireland

On Tuesday 12 March former Senator, TD and Minister Dr Martin Mansergh will launch Protestant and Irish: The minority’s search for place in independent Ireland, edited by Ian d’Alton and Ida Milne, and published by Cork University Press. It will take place at 6.30pm in Carlow College, College Street, Carlow town courtesy of the president, Fr Conn Ó Maoldhomhnaigh.

The book looks at how southern Irish Protestants tried to come to terms with newly-independent Ireland and how many attempted to fit in and ‘offer a method of living valuable to the State’.  Books will be available for sale on the night.

There will not be written invitations for this event, but all are welcome. If you intend on coming to the launch please email Ian d’Alton at the following address: iangdalton@hotmail.com.

Protestant and Irish: the minority’s search for a place in independent Ireland, edited by Ian d’Alton and Ida Milne

(If you are unable to make this event, the minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, will launch the book on Wednesday 6 March at 6pm in the Royal Irish Academy. RSVP Cork University Press at corkuniversitypress@ucc.ie)

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Date for your diary: COIHS Spring Conference, 6 April 2019

The Church of Ireland Historical Society’s first conference of the year will be on Saturday, 6 April 2019 in Armagh Robinson Library. The library is located at the northwest entrance gate to the Church of Ireland Cathedral. Tea and coffee will be served from 10.30am and the first paper will start at 11am.

Confirmed speakers are Prof. Rachel Moss (Trinity College, Dublin), Dr Andrew Sneddon (University of Ulster), and Dr Susan Hood (Representative Church Body Library, Dublin). The research paper will be delivered by Mr David O’Shea, who is pursuing his PhD at Trinity College Dublin. The full programme can be seen below.

We would also draw your attention like to draw your attention to the recent announcement of the W.G. Neely Postgraduate Prize for 2019. We strongly encourage eligible students to consider availing of this great opportunity, details of which can be found here.

The conference is open to all members of the public. There is a daily fee of €10 (or £7) for non-members to assist with conference expenses, payable at the registration desk which will be located in the Robinson Library, but anyone can become a member for €40 (or £35). Those who join the Society will be given exclusive access to the podcasts which record these papers, particularly popular among those who are unable to attend either of our conferences in Armagh or Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin (in November). Members will also be able to avail of significant discounts on select books that will be on sale on the day of the conference. For further details of our membership package please visit our membership page.

We’re looking forward to an interesting day and hope to see many of you there.

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Medieval Irish manuscript, The Red Book of Ossory, to be published

The RCB Library has digitised one of its most significant medieval manuscripts: The Red Book of Ossory (RCB Library D11/2/1). Not only is it available for public consultation on the Church of Ireland website but it will also be published by The Irish Manuscripts Commission in the coming years. The Red Book will be edited and translated by the well known medieval historian and COIHS honorary secretary, Dr Adrian Empey.

To mark this significant development, Dr Empey has provided a small insight into content of this precious manuscript. Among its many interesting features includes the lyrics of no less than 25 songs related to the nativity. These, like much of the content of The Red Book as a whole, were written by the Bishop of Ossory, Richard Ledred, whose tempestuous episcopate lasted from 1317 to about 1361.

The first Christmas song to appear in the Red Book is headed: ‘Cantilena de nativitate Domini’ [a song of the Nativity of (our) Lord]. Consisting of five stanzas, it opens with the words: ‘verbum caro factum est’ [the Word was made Flesh], © RCB Library D11/1.2, f. 70

The manuscript book contains 79 vellum leaves, and was composed largely in the 14th century during Ledred’s time. Later entries were added, the last of which are dated from the reign of Elizabeth I. The Red Book derives its name from the colour of the leather binding, faded on the outside, but still visible inside the cover. Like other medieval episcopal registers, it contains a wide range of documents that defy classification, the choice of which depended on what was important to individual bishops, in this case by Ledred, whom Dr Empey makes clear in his presentation was ‘one of the most extraordinary bishops ever to occupy the see of Ossory’.

The Red Book derives its name from the colour of the leather binding

The volume is internationally renowned for a number of reasons: it contains, for example, numerous documents of legal interest, such as the provisions of Magna Carta. More exceptionally, it contains a lengthy medical treatise on aqua vitae, or what we would call cognac, that occupies three and a half closely written pages in Latin shorthand.  While such a treatise is perhaps very seasonal, the reasons for its inclusion in the register were more medicinal, perhaps in some way linked to the Black Death that ravaged Kilkenny in 1348. Nevertheless it does provide the earliest known recipe for distillation known to exist in any Irish manuscript and its content of is particular contemporary interest to Ireland’s whiskey industry.

Another reason for the international fame of The Red Book is the collection of 60 Latin lyrics that make up the final folios, all but 13 of which were composed by Ledred. Many of the songs honour the Virgin Mary, and whilst all were not necessarily related to Christmas, Ledred intended them to be sung at the great festivals and on other occasions, so it looks very much as though he had the celebration of Christmas chiefly in mind, analysed in more detail in the online presentation.

Dr Susan Hood, RCB Librarian and Archivist, says: “We are grateful to Dr Empey for bringing the many intriguing aspects of this volume to light in conjunction with the digital release of this volume. We hope to follow digitization of The Red Book with other medieval manuscripts in the collection in due course.”

Dr Adrian Empey, who is also a member of the library and archives committee, claims: ‘It is a great delight that the Library has seen fit to make available not just these songs but all of the other unique content of The Red Book of Ossory in digital format for a worldwide audience to view.”

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W.G. Neely Postgraduate Prize 2019!

The Church of Ireland Historical Society is delighted to announce that the W.G. Neely Postgraduate Prize for 2019 is now open!

The W. G. Neely Prize, named in honour of the founder of the Church of Ireland Historical Society (COIHS), provides an excellent opportunity for research students to promote their work that considers aspects of the Church of Ireland. The prize is open to any postgraduate pursuing a major research thesis. Interested candidates can be affiliated to any recognised university, whether in Ireland or abroad. While entrants in the past have usually come from the discipline of history the committee warmly welcomes postgraduates from other subject areas such as history of art, archaeology, geography, politics, and architecture, to consider submitting an essay.

The winner of the W. G. Neely Prize will receive €150. His/her essay will, moreover, be considered for publication by Ireland’s premier academic journal, Irish Historical Studies. The candidate with the best essay will also be expected to present his/her paper at one of the Society’s conferences in Armagh (Spring) or Dublin (Winter).

Candidates interested in submitting an essay may write on any topic of their choosing relating to the history of the Church of Ireland. It should be no more than 5,000 words (including footnotes). The essay must be of original research. Candidates cannot submit a straightforward replication of a draft chapter in his/her thesis. Entrants do not have to be a member of the Society but are welcome to avail of the membership package that offers a generous student discount rate.

Details of the terms and conditions, in addition to the deadline, can be accessed by clicking on the link here.

Any enquiries should be directed to the secretary.

Past winners:

2016 W.G. Neely Prize Winner, Ms Kathryn Sawyer from Notre Dame, Indiana

2018
Matthew Houston: ‘The great crusade? The Church of Ireland and interpretations of the Second World War’

2016
Kathryn Sawyer: ‘A “disorderly, tumultuous way of serving God”: prayer and order in Ireland’s church and state, 1660-1689′

2015
Jeffrey Cox, ‘The pastoral ministry of the established church in County Kildare, c. 1591 to 1633’

2013
Ciarán McCabe, ‘Suppressing street begging in pre-Famine Ireland: a case study in the use of parish vestry minute books’

2011
Suzanne Forbes: ‘“Publick and solemn acknowledgments”: occasional days of state-appointed worship in Ireland, 1689-1702’, 

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Ireland’s earliest register: St John’s Parish Register 400 years old

On 7th February 1619, the oldest surviving register in existence in Ireland, the combined register from St John’s parish in Dublin, commenced. This makes this particular volume 400 years old this month. During her recent visit to the Representative Church Body Library, the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan TD, viewed the St John’s register, along with several others. See: http://bit.ly/2BboO1y 

The early years of the 17th century saw an attempt to introduce a system of public registration in Ireland, similar to that in Scotland in 1616. Although adherence to this was not necessarily followed by all Irish parishes immediately, the register of the parish of St John the Evangelist, positioned to the immediate north of Christ Church Cathedral on what is now Fishamble Street, was a forerunner of what would become the accepted norm throughout the island of Ireland in the following years.

The entries for February 1619 (RCB Library P328.01.1) showing the records of marriages and christenings that occurred in St John the Evangelist, Dublin (© RCB Library)

The book which is housed in the RCB Library, in the context of a host of other parish records (for a detailed list, see here: http://bit.ly/2Fu2wMn), was begun by the clerk Bartholomew Jordane on 7th February 1619, and records a number of christenings and marriages that occurred in the church during that month. The first inscribed record (an attempt to record a burial was subsequently erased) is that of the marriage of Richard Browne and Mary Woott, recorded on 27th February. The earliest actual record is immediately after this, noting the christening of Christopher Hoord on 16th February.

The book itself contains entries from 1619 to 1658. This period was a turbulent time in the history of Ireland, and the end of the book lists a remarkable amount of burials. The pages are titled ‘The Names of ye poore English who having fled to this Citie for refuge and Dyed in ye parish of St. John’s, were buried since 30 Decemb. 1641’. A page following is titled ‘A Catalogue of ye poore souldiers who were buried in St. Johns since 24th Apr. 1642’. Indeed, from November 1641 onwards, we see a noticeable increase in the recording of burials in the register in the following year, with some months recording only a long list of burials, reflecting the political crisis during this time. 

The entries themselves are in immaculate condition. The pages on which the entries are written are made of vellum (probably sheep hide), and would have originally been loose-leaf but were subsequently bound in an ornate brown leather, with gold lettering denoting the parish details and the years contained within.

Records of marriages in RCB Library P328.01.1 from 1656 to 1658 (© RCB Library)

The book itself was ‘gifted’ in June 1630 by John Hubbords, who is presumed to be the same as the John Hobarte, who is listed as churchwarden in 1623. The record of the burial of John Hubbords is recorded in the register on 12th June 1630.

Other early 17th century parish registers do survive from various parts of Ireland, such as St Catherine’s parish, Dublin (commencing in 1636), Lisburn Cathedral, County Antrim (commencing in 1637), Holy Trinity parish in Cork city (commencing in 1641), and Derry Cathedral (commencing in 1642), for example, but the start date of 1619 for St John’s makes it the oldest by 17 years. As with other early 17th century registers which have been transcribed, indexed and published as part of the Library’s publication series, printed copies of this extraordinary volume are available for sale from the Church of Ireland online store: https://store.ireland.anglican.org

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W. G. Neely Prize Winner: Matthew Houston

The Church of Ireland Historical Society is delighted to announce that the 2018 W.G. Neely Postgraduate Prize Winner is Matthew Houston. His paper was entitled ‘The great crusade? The Church of Ireland and interpretations of the Second World War’. He will receive his cash prize of €150 at the forthcoming COIHS Spring conference in April and will be given the opportunity to submit his essay for publication in Ireland’s premier historical journal: Irish Historical Studies.

Matthew holds BA and MA degrees in History and a Graduate Diploma in Theology from Queen’s University, Belfast. He is currently working on a DEL-funded PhD at QUB entitled ‘The churches, Northern Ireland, and the Second World War, 1939-45’. His research explores how leaders within major denominations responded to the challenges raised by the war.

The committee of the Church of Ireland Historical Society would like to thank all postgraduate students who submitted an essay. They were of an exceptionally high standard and we strongly encourage candidates to consider entering the 2019 competition with a new topic (please see terms and conditions).

Details of the 2019 Neely Prize will be announced shortly.

We would also like to congratulate our last prize winner from 2016, Kathryn Sawyer, whose essay was published in the recent issue of Irish Historical Studies in November.

The W.G. Neely Prize, named in honour of the Society’s founder, provides an excellent opportunity for postgraduate students to promote their work that considers aspects of the Church of Ireland.

2018 W. G. Neely Postgraduate Prize Winner, Matthew Houston, from Queen’s University, Belfast
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The Strokestown (Bumlin) Parish Registers 1811-1969

Those with an interest in the Longford/Roscommon region might be particularly interested in the latest finding at the Representative Church Body Library. Below is transcribed content of the parish registers of the former union of Bumlin, Kiltrustan and Lissonuffy in Co. Roscommon, together with the memorial inscriptions on the monuments in the surrounding churchyard adjacent to the parish church of St John the Baptist, covering the period 1811-1969.

The parish of Bumlin centred on the landlord-planned town of Strokestown, where for over 300 years the Mahon (later Pakenham Mahon) family had their big house, which survives and today is the location of the Irish Famine Museum. Work on the parish registers which are located at the RCB Library (the Church of Ireland’s principal record repository) has again been carried out by local historian Alan Moran whose transcribed the Bumlin vestry minute book between 1811 and 1870 (available at this link: http://bit.ly/2BGXrwL

Collectively this work means that Strokestown is one of the first Church of Ireland parishes to have all of its principal historic records transcribed and available online. In accordance with best practice for online publication, the transcripts comprise baptisms and marriages 1811-1919, and burials and memorial inscriptions 1811-1969, and are fully indexed and searchable. The transcribed data is part of the Anglican Record Project, a long-running series of mainly Church of Ireland parish record transcriptions, initiated by Mark Williams and permanently available on the RCB Library website at www.ireland.anglican.org/about/rcb-library/anglican-record-project.  Alan worked under the tutelage of Mark on the Bumlin registers and memorials inscriptions, and Mark’s input is specifically acknowledged. Their joint labour has made accessible for the first time a vast amount of ancestral and local history data that was hitherto relatively inaccessible. 

Annotation on the first page of the earliest Bumlin combined register reveals its provenance thanks to the purchase of a new registry book by the rector, the Revd Edward Mahon, in 1811. © RCB Library P737.1.1

The permissionsof the Director of the National Archives,with whom the reproduction rights of parish registers reside on behalf of the state to 1871, as well as the Representative Church Body, are acknowledged by the Project.

In 1751 Thomas Mahon MP of Strokestown House conveyed to the Bishop of Elphin an acre of land in Strokestown, for the purpose of erecting a new church, which was confirmed as the parish church in place of Bumlin in March 1754. The ancient church of Bumlin was by then “in a decayed and ruinous condition and the site thereof inconvenient” so the new church added to the embellishment of the new planned town he was developing. By 1813 the parish vestry sought a loan of £1,000 from the Board of First Fruits to add a tower and steeple to this building, neither of which were completed before the church was destroyed, apparently by a storm, in the winter of 1818/19, so eventually a new church building was consecrated on 27 August 1820 which remained in use until 1977, when it finally closed. The building was retained, however, and it re-opened as a heritage centre in 1982, and is now home to the Co. Roscommon Heritage and Genealogy Centre, and both it and the churchyard are well maintained. 

The earliest surviving registers and vestry minute book were presented by the Revd Edward Mahon (1776/7–1847) on his appointment as vicar in 1811. Fortunately, they were retained in local custody and thereby escaped the disastrous destruction of the Public Record Office of Ireland in June 1922. In the preliminary pages of the earliest register, Mahon’s personal annotation reveals his conscientiousness to be a good record keeper: having “found no such thing as a Registry Book” and “no registry whatsoever of Burials!!!” he took it upon himself to provide the book, which he purchased for £1.10.4.


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St Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick: newly discovered 19th Century Renovation Story

St Mary’s Cathedral in Limerick was founded in 1168 by King Domnhall Mor O’Brien (descendant of Brian Boru) and purportedly built on the site of the royal residence of the kings of Munster. This year has marked the 850th year since its foundation, and to conclude a year of anniversary celebrations, the RCB Library in Dublin has published online a digital copy of a previously hidden 19th-century source documenting the story of its renovation between 1859 and 1863, together with detailed analysis of its content. The volume came up for sale a year ago, and with local financial support from the Bishop, diocese and cathedral the Library, which is the Church of Ireland’s record repository, was enabled to purchase it, accessioning it as Ms 1048 and working creatively to promote its content, thereafter.

Ms 1048 is effectively a scrapbook of original minutes, press-cuttings, subscription lists and other memorabilia related to conservation and rebuilding works that took place in the cathedral between 1859 and 1863. The volume further includes articles, reports, and accounts of funds of the renovations up to and including 1874. It was assembled by a certain John Armour Haydn, whose name and presumed ownership appears on the front cover of the book.

Cover of the volume assembled by a certain John Armour Haydn, © RCB Library Ms 1048

There are two possible creators of the volume – a father and a son. Haydn Sr. (1845-1920) was a canon, and also Treasurer (1906-1912), and Chancellor (1912-1913) of the cathedral in addition to being the Archdeacon of Limerick (1913-1918). It is probable that he compiled the text to record how his predecessors serving in the cathedral acquired funds and raised awareness of the structure. Alternatively, the name on the cover could also refer to his son, John Armour Haydn Jr. (1881-1957), a secretary of the cathedral vestry from at least the 1930s. Haydn Jr. commissioned a model of St Mary’s which is still on display at the church, indicating his own interest in the architecture of St Mary’s that may have equally inspired him to research the history of St Mary’s renovations. Like his father, Haydn Jr. was passionate about the history of St Mary’s and authored a guidebook for visitors to St Mary’s in 1950, as well as a booklet on the 15th-century misericords of St Mary’s.

Whichever Haydn was responsible, as the online exhibition accompanying the digitzed copy makes clear, the volume is a Haydn creation of original materials dating from the time of restoration in 1859-1863, with some additional materials up to 1874. Whilst perhaps arranged into the volume at a later time, these are contemporary to the renovation work including even the original resolutions of the committee and trustees who oversaw the works. It thus makes a significant contribution to understanding the cathedral’s architectural history.

The title page of the volume contains an explanatory “preliminary statement” revealing why the mid-19th century restoration works were required in 1859. A committee had been formed in September of that year to oversee the erection of a suitable memorial to the late Augustus Stafford O’Brien Stafford (1811-1857), remembered for his care of wounded soldiers in the Crimean War. The construction of his memorial (the window on the east end) attracted donations from all over Great Britain and Ireland, as evidenced by the subscriptions paid by figures such as the Duke of Cambridge (Prince George), the Archbishop of Armagh (the Most Revd John Beresford), Lord Chelmsford, the Bishops of Limerick, Killaloe, and Oxford, as well as Florence Nightingale. However in the course of the works for the memorial, it was revealed that the roof over the chancel had become “imperfect and unsightly”, requiring urgent attention.

The preliminary statement outlining the rationale for the renovation works commencing in 1859, as contained on page 1 of RCB Library Ms 1048

Thus, the volume is a window on hidden history detailing the causes of the restoration and conservation – the parts of the fabric that were replaced, but also how the cathedral’s essential medieval features were salvaged, and how the funds were raised to cover extensive costs. It is sobering when leafing through the volume to learn of the many complications to the building projects, and challenges of fund-raising; nothing has changed for those who safeguard such buildings today.

The detailed analysis of the Haydn volume which accompanies the digitized content was carried out at the RCB Library by Matthieu Isbell, a first-class honours graduate of Trinity College Dublin, who spent a two-month intern placement there earlier this year. Speaking from the RCB Library, the Librarian and Archivist, Dr Susan Hood, comments: ‘We were delighted to give Matthieu an opportunity to learn about the varied collections here, and the Library benefited from his contribution and knowledge on a number of projects – including the detail in this previously unknown source.’

The Dean of St Mary’s cathedral, the Very Revd Niall Sloane, comments: ‘As we look back with thanksgiving for 850 years of service and Christian witness, we are reminded by this fascinating source that looking after it through the centuries has not been without challenges.  Today we embark on new chapter in the history of St Mary’s where the preservation, conservation and restoration of the building must be seen in the light of current legislation, health and safety requirements, visitor as well as worshipper needs. We are heartened and encouraged that thanks to the generosity of the community as a whole we should be in a position to hand the cathedral onto the next generation that it is not only fit for purpose for stranger and pilgrim; but ultimately, a beautiful and awe-inspiring place for the worship of God.’

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