1918 - 1982
The Revd. Charles Campbell Manning, M.C., M.A.
(1918 - 1920)
Revd. C.C. Manning's ministry of sixteen months is
the shortest in our recorded history. Having served in Holywood as a
Curate from 1900 until 1903, it is probable that when the Parish became
vacant he looked forward to returning as Rector, where indeed he was
incumbent for the remainder of his ministry.
Charles Campbell Manning was born in Dublin, the son
of Michael James Manning. He obtained his B.A. degree in Trinity
College, Dublin in 1896 and his M.A. in 1901. He was ordained to the
priesthood in 1897 in Down.
Curate in Carrickfergus from 1896 - 1900, curate in
Holywood from 1900 - 1903, he became Rector of Muckamore from 1903 -
1911, then Rector of Comber from 1911 - 1918. During the Great War years
1914 - 1918, he served as temporary chaplain to the forces. In 1917 he
was mentioned in despatches and was awarded the Military Cross in 1918.
Just as the Armistice was about to be signed he became Rector of
Drumbeg. Nominated on 9th August 1918, he was instituted on 8th November
1918. His first big occasion was the Confirmation on 4th May 1919 when
21 boys and 28 girls were confirmed by the Right Revd. Charles F.
D'Arcy, Bishop of Down. He was assisted by the Curate, the Revd. H. E.
Gick, in presenting these 49 young people to the Bishop.
An interesting minute of the Select Vestry meeting
held on 27 January 1919 refers to the Dunmurry Committee investigating
the possibility of purchasing the tower and spire of the Mariner's
Church in Belfast for erecting at St Colman's, Dunmurry. Presumably
these were for sale at this time. No further reference is made to the
transaction and St Colman's Church tower was erected as a War Memorial.
The curacies of Charles Manning at Carrickfergus and
at Holywood were both of significance in that at Carrickfergus he met
Dilliana Mary Violet, the daughter of George Chamberlain, Rector of
Carrickfergus, and she became his wife on 3rd July 1901, and of course,
after he left Drumbeg he became Rector of Holywood. Although he moved
from Drumbeg early in 1920 he was not quite finished with the Parish. At
the Harvest Thanksgiving in Drumbeg on 26th September 1920, the preacher
was the Revd. C.C. Manning, and at the dedication of the War Memorial in
St Colman's Church, Dunmurry he was invited to perform the ceremony. The
press report of the occasion contains this information:
There was an overflow congregation, the pulpit
was covered with a large Union Jack, the War Memorial was decorated
by Mr & Mrs George MacRory, Dunmurry House and guarded by Sergeants
Wright and Presse of the C.L.B. company. Following the unveiling by
the Revd. Manning, the buglers of the C.L.B. company sounded the
`Last Post' and half of the Reveille, and a verse of the National
Anthem was sung. The Revd. Manning's text was from the book of
Esther, chapter 1 verse 12. Stainer's anthem was rendered with much
feeling and tenderness and the entire service reflected credit on
the choir and on Mr R. Marlowe, B.A. who presided at the organ.
Mr Manning preached his farewell sermon at Morning
Prayer on Sunday 21st March 1920. Due to heavy snowfall, only 126 were
present that Sunday morning. Later he became Prebendary of Dunsford
(19221927), Precentor of Down (1927-1930) and Archdeacon of Down in
1930. He died on 22nd October 1954 and is buried in Drumbo Parish
Archdeacon Samuel Hemphill (1920 - 1927)
Born on 5th July 1859, the eldest son of Robert
Hemphill of Springhill, Killanaule, Co Tipperary and Annette Sarah,
daughter of Samuel Alleyne Rothwell, of Newtown, Co Meath, Samuel
Hemphill, was a scholar of Trinity College, Dublin in 1881, obtained his
B.A. in 1882, Biblical Greek Prize (2nd) and Archbishop Kings Divinity
Prize (1st) 1884, B.D. 1886, D.D. 1892, Doctor of Literature 1900,
M.R.I.A. 1893, ordained Deacon in 1883 and Priest in Dublin in 1885.
He was curate of Holy Trinity Church, Rathmines from
1883 - 1888. Professor of Biblical Greek in T.C.D. from 1888 - 1898. He
became Rector of Aughaval or Westport from 1888 - 1892 and was Chaplain
to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in 1891 and again from 1918 - 1920.
Select Preacher of Trinity College, Dublin in 1891, 1892 and 1899, he
was Rector of Birr from 1892 - 1914, Canon of Rath in Killaloe Cathedral
1897 - 1914, Prebendary of Tipperkevin and Canon of St Patrick's Dublin
1909 - 1914, Examining Chaplain to the Bishop of Killaloe from 1894 -
1915 and to the Archbishop of Dublin 1915 - 1920, and to the Bishop of
Down 1923. From 1914 - 1918 he was Chaplain of the Magdalene Asylum in
Dublin and Canon of Christ Church Cathedral. Dublin in 1919.
This godly scholar was instituted Rector of Drumbeg
on 1st May 1920. became Treasurer of Down Cathedral from 1921 - 1923 and
Archdeacon of Down on 5th December 1923. During his ministry over the
years he had still found time to publish a number of treatises:
- My Neighbour. Plain Studies for my People, being
discourses on the last six commandments. Published in Dublin by
McGee in 1897.
- The Diatesseron of Tatian
- The Satires of Persius
- Immortality in Christ
- A History of the Revised Version of the New
This latter work was the subject of press notices in
many leading newspapers and journals of the time, the general consensus
of opinion best summed up perhaps by the concluding paragraph of the
Dublin Daily Express review: 'Canon Hemphill's book is a vigorous,
interesting and practical contribution to a subject of vast importance'.
On Saturday 1st May 1920, after the Service of
Institution of the Revd. Canon Samuel Hemphill D.D., by the Right Revd.
Charles T.P Greirson, Bishop of Down, the ladies of the Parish
entertained the visiting clergy and parishioners to tea in the Parochial
Hall. This was his first opportunity to meet and get to know his new
flock. Further opportunity to enjoy a pleasant day in the company of the
choir-master, Robert Gurd, and the members of the choir occurred on 23rd
June, when the annual choir trip to the seaside took place. These
outings were usually by train from York Road station to Portrush and
were tremendously enjoyed by all. The photograph reproduced was probably
a little later, about 1925, but the enjoyment was just the same.
Drumbeg Parish Choir at Portrush - c. 1923.
Front Row: (l-r) Dolly Marks, Nell Colvin, Lottie McConnell,
Isa Scott, Margaret Whiteside, Georgie McConnell, Edith
Byers, Clara Whiteside. Seated in front - Sammy McCracken
(organ blower). Middle row: Emily Neill, Mrs Scott, Sadie
Dugan, Ethel Megahy, Lizzie Neill, Sarah Byers, Lena Wilson,
Miss Martin, Harriett Gurd. Back row: Joe Gurd, Robert Gurd,
Mr R. H. McGrath, John McComb, Frank Megahy, William
Patterson, George Peake, Revd W.B. Jones, Mr Robert Gurd.
(George Peake went to Canada and was ordained there).
Visiting the flock as part of an incumbent's duties
is also a way of getting to know people. Especially was this so when the
new Rector had the war wounded (and often unemployed) to add to the list
of those in need of spiritual comfort, as well as the bereaved. The
account of the dedication of the War Memorial reminds us of the large
number of bereaved families within the parish at this time.
At the Easter Vestry 1921, Canon Hemphill welcomed
five ladies to the meeting. However, none was elected to the Select
Vestry. It was to be another 60 years before women were elected.
Confirmation on 4th July 1922 of 28 boys and 29 girls from Drumbeg,
together with 6 boys and 16 girls from Drumbo, a total of 79, was
performed by the Lord Bishop of Down, Charles T. P. Grierson with four
other clergymen assisting Dr Hemphill in presenting the candidates.
On Monday evening 26th March 1923 at 8.00pm in
church, a most enjoyable programme of music was given by the organist
and choir with supporting items from soloists and violinist. The full
programme is illustrated in 'Music in Church'.
From 17th June until 19th August 1923, services were
held in the Parochial Hall while the church was renovated. At this time
the roof was reslated, the interior sheeting of the roof renewed, and
the chancel walls replastered. Messrs. Jefferson and Fullerton Ltd.,
carried out the work at a cost of �530. On Sunday 26th August the Rector
has noted in the preacher's book: 'Back in church, thank God!'
On 5th December, Canon Hemphill was installed as
Archdeacon of Down. It was about this time that on one of his frequent
visits to the Charley Memorial School he wrote on the blackboard: 'From
Drumbeg and Dunmurry, for children who hurry, with earnest endeavour, no
error whatever, by hook or by crook, to master this book, the Archdeacon
of Down will give half-a-crown'. Even though the book was Jeremiah, the
prize was won by a girl who remembers it well at this time of writing.
The Duchess of Athol, M.P., Parliamentary Secretary
to the Minister of Education, paid a visit to the church on 14th January
1925. She was keenly interested in the tombs of the Hill Wilsons and
James Haddock, her ancestors. Again in this year, 57 young people (29
boys and 28 girls) were presented for confirmation by the Archdeacon.
The Lord Bishop of Down, the Right Revd. Charles T.P. Grierson performed
the laying on of hands. Archdeacon Hemphill was assisted by four other
clergymen in presenting the candidates.
The evening service on St Stephen's day 26th December
1926 took the form of readings from The Messiah' interspersed with
carols. At the Watchnight service on 31st December, Archdeacon Hemphill
chose for his text Psalm 16, verse 11 `Thou wilt show me the path of
life; in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are
pleasures for evermore'.
Twelve days later, while preparing to receive the
bride and groom for their wedding, he died in the chancel. It was 9.30am
on the morning of 12th January 1927. The wedding between Rodney
Malcolmson and Lily Woods went ahead after a short delay, while the
curate took over. Such a sense of bereavement has hardly ever been felt
by a whole community.
The Lord Bishop of Down, the Right Revd. Charles T.P.
Grierson, speaking at the Funeral Service in Down Cathedral said that
'Eulogy would be the last thing he would like, yet there were things in
his character he wished to mention, not in eulogy but merely that they
might help themselves by learning from him. There was really no one
quite like him. There was a uniqueness, depth of feeling, strength of
character that was very remarkable and that endeared him to all of them
and made them trust him.
To the people of Drumbeg these words rang true. They
could add their own tribute in writing in pencil in the minutes of the
Select Vestry meeting held later `one of God's whitest men'.
DEATH AT WEDDING - ARCHDEACON COLLAPSES AT ALTAR RAILS'
was the heading of the article by the Morning Post correspondent.
The Archdeacon of Down, the Revd. Dr Hemphill,
died in Drumbeg Parish Church this morning while waiting at the
altar to officiate at a wedding, before the arrival of the bridal
pair. He felt ill in the vestry, but persisted in performing his
duties, and entered the church to await the arrival of the
contracting parties. After leaving the vestry, he had a second
seizure and collapsed at the altar rails. He died in a few minutes.
The body was taken into the vestry and a Curate was sent for. The
wedding party waited until his arrival and the bride, Miss Lily
Woods was not informed of the tragedy. The bridegroom was Mr Rodney
Malcolmson, the Irish Hockey International player.
The Select Vestry meeting on 21st January 1927
resolved that a letter be sent to Mrs Hemphill. 'We tender to you and
the members of your family our heartfelt sympathy and deep regret in the
sore loss which you have sustained by the death of Archdeacon Hemphill.
His loss to the parish is irreparable, and those who were privileged to
know him as their Rector will have abiding memories of a beloved Pastor
and faithful steward of Jesus Christ, a sincere friend, a great scholar
and a Christian gentleman'.
The Revd. Samuel Rentoul
(1927 - 1953)
The Revd. S.R. McGarvey was the son of James McGarvey
of Virginia, Co Cavan, and his mother was Martha Jane, daughter of Hugh
Harrison of Belfast. He obtained his B.A. degree in Trinity College,
Dublin in 1905 and his M.A. in 1918.
His first curacy was at Carlingford from 1915 - 1919,
then at Armagh from 1919 - 1920 and at St Thomas's, Belfast 1920 - 1927.
On 19th April 1921 he had married Gertrude S., daughter of John Leslie
Riggs of Armagh. They had one daughter.
The seven years on the Lisburn/Malone Road's Parish
of St Thomas's were good preparation for the Parish of Drumbeg. He was a
well liked curate and he had made many friends in this area. The Select
Vestry had no hesitation in endorsing his selection for the Rectorship
of Drumbeg. He was instituted on 20th April 1927 at 8.00pm by the Lord
Bishop of Down, the Right Revd. C.T.P. Grierson, assisted by Dean Dowse.
The church was full for the service and, as usual, afterwards the
Parochial Hall was the venue for the tea made by the ladies of the
On 12th December 1927, the Revd. Mr Quinn, delegate
of the church extension committee, spoke at the Select Vestry meeting of
the necessity of securing a site and obtaining a Curate for the Finaghy
district. On 13th February 1928, the Rector informed the Select Vestry
meeting that the Bishop had recommended that the Revd. F.J. Mitchell,
Curate of St Mary's, should be Curate in charge of the Finaghy district.
Though still under Drumbeg, he would be solely responsible for the
district and, with the people of Finaghy, he would choose the site for
the new church. The boundaries of Finaghy Parish were defined and
approved by the Select Vestry of Drumbeg on 25th April 1929.
Mr McGarvey had not long to settle in before the
parish had lost another piece of its territory, and had settled at last
to the size which it is today. As always there are matters of repair and
refurbishment to exercise the minds of the Rector and Select Vestry. The
Lych gate is in bad repair. The dangerous corner at the Parochial Hall
needs to be realigned, the lighting in church is unsatisfactory,
grave-yard extension is sorely needed, and so on. Eventually all these
are resolved inside the next decade. Meantime, on the spiritual front, a
series of missions are held, taken by Church Army Captain Remes in 1930
and by the Revd. C.P. Storey in 1932.
On 30th November 1931 a deed of transfer of Miss
Gardiner's field to Drumbeg Church for use as a burying ground was
executed by Mr W.J. Ward, Residuary Legate for the late Miss Gardiner's
property. Again, on 12th February 1933, the electric lighting was
dedicated by the Ven. C.C. Manning, Archdeacon of Down.
The events of 1935 are still recalled by a few
survivors from those days. To begin the year a great clean up of the
church, following the redecoration, was satisfactorily accomplished. A
Thanksgiving Service for the King's Jubilee celebration was held on 12th
May. The international Girl Guides World Jamboree Camp took place at
Wilmont. Guides from all over the world came to church. On the morning
of 21st July the attendance was 263 and on 28th July there were 255
present, mostly girl guides.
The corner was realigned by the County Council at
last after six years of negotiations. The graveyard extension was at
last a reality also, and the Bishop, the Right Revd. J.F. McNeice had
complimented the Rector on the excellent state of the church and
churchyard, when he dedicated the new churchyard extension on Sunday
22nd December 1935, a bitterly cold day with a light snowfall covering
Mr McGarvey had the usual problems of church
maintenance. The weather vane had to be taken down, repaired and
replaced securely in March 1936, and again the chancel windows were
leaking in 1937.
For many years the Conagher organ had been powered by
hand. Tucked in a corner by the south side of the organ a wooden handle
protruded. A wooden weight on a string rose and fell with the exertions
of the blower, usually a sturdy boy or young man specially employed for
the job at something like �5 per year. This vital link in the orderly
progress of services was sometimes frail or inattentive with devastating
results. Suddenly the instrument ran out of puff and the organist
floundered, rapid adjustments to the stops being used to reduce the
demand for air to a minimum, while at the same time a member of the
choir hurried round to find out the cause of the trouble, too little
effort or dozing off being the usual defections.
Now at last, just in time for the Harvest
Thanksgiving service on Sunday 28th September 1937, the organ had an
electric blower. No more unaccompanied hiatus for the choir; no more
hassle for the organist. Yet, as so often happens when things seem to be
going splendidly, great changes were just around the corner. After a
lifetime of service as organist, Robert Gurd retired at the end of the
Already the long shadows of impending war were
clouding the future. The phoney peace was all too soon followed by the
declaration of war with Germany on 3rd September 1939. Some parishioners
still remember that fateful Sunday morning when the service was
accompanied by a violent thunderstorm. It seemed as though the elements
were echoing the gloom occasioned by the broadcast by Neville
Chamberlain announcing the state of war with Germany.
The phoney war produced an air of complacency in both
Government and populace. Even when the air raids had begun in England,
some thousand people were evacuated from there to the safety of Northern
Ireland. Some of these died in the Belfast Blitz. In March 1941 it was
estimated that Belfast had only one half of the anti-aircraft cover
approved for the city. Thus when the Luftwaffe turned its attention to
Belfast it looked down upon a city that was well nigh defenceless.*
The first small raid on Belfast took place on the
night of 7th - 8th April 1941. Six bombers flew above the city dropping
flares, incendiaries and then high explosives. Twelve fires raged in the
Ballymacarrett area and St Patrick's Church of Ireland was severely
damaged. Thirteen people lost their lives in this raid, 81 were injured,
23 of them seriously.
See - Bombs On Belfast - The Blitz 1941.
Introduction by Christopher D McGimpsey. Published by The Belfast
After three or four days clearing up, the pattern of
life resumed as usual. Thousands of day trippers took the train to
Bangor on Easter Monday; a representative football match was played on
Easter Tuesday at Windsor Park between the I.F.A. and the Football
Association of Ireland. The local team won by two goals to one. A single
plane had flown over the city during the day, but no one paid much
attention. The sirens sounded at 10.40pm on the evening of 15th April.
By dawn on the 16th almost 900 people were dead and 1500 injured. Around
200 German bombers had cascaded their loads of incendiaries, high
explosives, and the deadly land mines on an almost defenceless city.
From the road between Drumbeg Corner and Ballyaughlis, just beyond
Ballyowan House, the whole city appeared ablaze. By the lurid orange
conflagration reflected from the sky it was possible to read the evening
paper with ease. Few Drumbeg people went to bed until the last of the
bombers left and then only with great sadness, a feeling of utter
helplessness in the face of a catastrophe, never before experienced, or
indeed imagined, and a horror of what the news from the city would be.
The coming days confirmed the holocaust only too surely. Tales of
heroism and miraculous escapes, were offset by details of the
obliteration of whole streets. One of the results of the devastation was
the number of unidentified bodies which had to be buried in communal
graves. Protestants and Roman Catholics watched the convoys of lorries
laden with coffins head out of the city up the Falls Road. Those
identified as Protestants turned into the City Cemetery, those whose
remains had been identified as Roman Catholic by religious medals or
Rosary beads continued on to Milltown. For months to come thousands of
people walked out of the city at dusk and slept in the countryside round
about. Every house around the city took in refugees, relatives or
friends. In Drumbeg every house was full. On 4th May another raid took
place and again the north end of the city was an inferno. The fires were
still raging, dead bodies were still lying in the streets and some of
the injured were still trapped in the rubble of their homes when the
sirens again warned of the second approach of enemy planes within 24
hours. Although only four or five planes were involved this time, there
was a further loss of life and much damage. The total casualties in the
May raids were estimated at 191 people killed, 186 seriously injured and
a further 615 slightly injured. The April and May raids had claimed over
a thousand lives. At least two thousand were injured.
The parochial hall became the centre of an
unprecedented influx of refugees. Creating small areas of privacy on the
floor of the hall, the shattered, bewildered, disorientated families, or
residues of families, huddled together for days, hardly daring to
venture out of their own areas. Gradually, however a remarkable spirit
of sharing and caring developed, assisted by the unstinting efforts of
the kindly folk of Drumbeg. Almost immediately gifts of clothing,
footwear, toys for the children and, of course, food appeared as if from
nowhere. The remembrance of those truly Christian days makes us sad that
they did not continue after the emergency was over.
Gradually the homeless families were found other
accommodation and the hall became the focus of the forces who were now
stationed in Wilmont, Ballydrain and the Drum House. Army units were at
the first two and W.A.A.F.s in Drum House. The American forces took over
Ballydrain House later in the war and brought their own particular
camaraderie with them, singing along the road to Ballyaughlis, with
chewing gum and `Camel' cigarettes. All too soon to the beaches at
Normandy. The impact of these developments was most keenly felt at those
church services when upwards of a hundred Service men or women, would
join in the singing of the well-known hymns. Especially was this true of
the American forces. Drumbeg church choir had never heard the American
National Anthem until it became necessary to learn it for the
attendances of the Doughboys. We never got it quite right in the last
three or four bars, but by playing it by ear we managed to keep abreast
of the congregation. These services were underlaid by a strong sense of
the impermanence of the times and had a poignancy all of their own.
The Parochial Hall reverted to parish use after an
occupation of about three years by the Belfast Ropeworks, who used it as
a head office until the end of the war.
It was around 1946 that the Y.P.C.A. was formed. The
letters stand for Young People's Church Association, but in fact the
membership was open to all over 14 years of age and up to a hundred, as
we used to say. The main reason for the title was an annual grant from
the State to assist the establishment of youth groups after the war. It
was only something like �5 per annum, but it gave authenticity to the
association in promoting contacts with other similar bodies. Our main
strength was our bible classes, patterned on the pre-war men's bible
class, taken by Mr McGarvey, which had at times attracted a membership
of over a hundred men on Monday evenings, round the old black stove
which warmed those nearest to it (in front) and perished those at the
back! We were also able to field an excellent team in the churches Table
Tennis League, moving from the lowest division to the top in six
successive years. The Y.P.C.A. formed a focus for other social events:
guest teas, sales, concerts and outings.
Towards the end of his ministry in Drumbeg, the Revd.
Samuel McGarvey (Pat to his friends) found it more and more difficult to
devote his flagging energies to taking the bible classes in his own
inimitable way and without his genial guidance the Y.P.C.A. languished
and finally expired in 1953, just as he retired early due to ill health.
That was the year that the Revd. Horace Launcelot Uprichard, M.A. became
Rector of Drumbeg.
The Revd. Horace Launcelot
(1953 - 1982)
The Revd H.L. Uprichard's coming to Drumbeg was
almost accidental. After Mr McGarvey's retirement, a number of clergy
took the services while the parish was vacant. According to Horace, he
was asked to stand in for another clergyman at Morning Service one
Sunday at short notice. Immediately after the service a number of Select
Vestrymen met together and unanimously endorsed the enthusiastic opinion
of Archie Willis, 'Yon's our man'. The nominators and Bishop had little
difficulty in deciding who would fill the vacancy in Drumbeg! Horace
Uprichard was instituted on 17th August 1953. Born in Portadown in 1917
he was educated at Portadown College before going up to Trinity College,
Dublin. He had always shown great ability in sports, particularly Rugby
Football, and he combined an excellent academic career with playing for
T.C.D.'s first fifteen and representing Leinster at Inter-provincial
After graduation he was ordained in Kilmore Cathedral
in 1942 and became Curate assistant for one year, before joining the
Royal Air Force with the rank of Squadron Leader. He was Chaplain to the
R.A.F. College at Cranwell and later went to France with the British
Liberation Army. From there he moved to Java and to Japan, and served as
Senior Chaplain. On completion of his R.A.F. service he was appointed by
Bishop W.S. Kerr as Head of the Southern Church Mission, Ballymacarrett.
From his time as Chaplain to the R.A.F. he brought a
fresh, concise clarity of diction, a brisk, eager cheerfulness and
youthful zest for the things of God that were to remain the hallmark of
his ministry for almost 30 years, and influence for good the lives of
many people within and far beyond the boundaries of the parish. He
possessed great ability in the effective use of both radio and
television, whether as commentator on a Rugby match from Ravenhill or
presenting the Epilogue on television, there was always a distinctive
masterly touch. This expertise in the field of communication resulted in
his being appointed Church of Ireland representative on the Board of
Religious Advisors to Ulster Television; for 13 years he was also
Chairman of that body.
In 1947 he married Helen Bellamy in St Margaret's,
Westminster. They had three sons, John, David and Andrew.
One of the benefits arising from his television and
radio contacts was the broadcast service on the Home Service of the
B.B.C., at 7.45pm on Sunday 25th June 1961 from Drumbeg Parish Church.
This was a great experience for all of us who took part. About 20 years
later we also had the privilege of having an overseas broadcast on 21st
February, 1982. Following this broadcast, Horace was delighted with the
number of appreciative letters received from listeners overseas, to whom
the sound of the Ulster accent had brought nostalgic memories of home.
On 31st July 1960, a memorial window in the porch was
dedicated to the memory of Samuel Rentoul McGarvey by the Venerable
George Quin, Archdeacon of Down.
On Whitsunday 1975, a new lectern bible was
dedicated, presented by Mrs Margaret Neill.
Horace's ministry will be remembered as a time of
expansion and renewal. The old rectory was really too large for a rector
with a young family - too difficult to heat and maintain. After nearly
five years of negotiations with the Diocesan Council, agreement was
reached for the subdivision of the property; the sale of the old rectory
and the provision of a new, modern, more compact house. The new Vestry
was completed in 1958 and a further extension of the graveyard was made
in 1966. For many years the triangle of ground embraced by the old wall
of the Drum Garden and the churchyard wall had been a dumping ground for
all the wastes from the churchyard, overgrown by elder bushes, thorns,
thistles and nettles, it was an eyesore to anyone coming into the new
extension by the steps from the old graveyard.
During the years 1974/75 two members of the Select
Vestry undertook to clear the area and construct a memorial garden for
the interment of cremated ashes. It was dedicated on 18th January 1976.
A plaque on the wall records their work.
As, sadly, so often in our history, the Rectory at
Drumbeg was to be plunged into mourning suddenly and unexpectedly when
Horace's and Helen's middle son David was killed in a road accident in
Germany, where he had been serving as a Flying Officer in the Royal Air
Force. Known affectionately to the family as `Tid' he was very dear to
them and his death dealt them a blow from which they never fully
recovered. A small memorial window was dedicated by the Chaplain, R.A.F.
Bruggen, in his memory on Sunday 29th June 1975.
Below this window a bronze plaque was dedicated just
recently on Sunday 28th August 1994, the 20th Anniversary of David's
death, in memory of Horace Launcelot Uprichard, Rector of Drumbeg from
1953 until his retirement in 1982. He died on 6th February 1994.
Our present Rector was instituted on Thursday 28th
During the course of the year we have quite a number
of visitors who, if they walk up from the road, invariably remark on the
Lych Gate. It is a prominent landmark on the roadside. Built in 1878 by
the generosity of Ellen Caldwell in memory of her brother John Ferguson
Montgomery of Ballydrain, it is mostly of cut sandstone blocks, with
heavy pitch pine timbers and steeply pitched shingled roof. The gates,
originally of pitch pine also, are now made in mahogany, after
demolition of the original by an erratic motorist. Giving a cursory
inspection to the Yew arches which were planted in 1888 by Thomas
Montgomery, and they are kept in shape by annual clipping, the visitor
enters the front porch, where a large marble tablet set into the wall
leaves no doubt about the building:
'Drumbeg Parish Church. Built in 1798. The Spire
was blown down in 1831. The present Spire was built at the expense
of John Charley of Finaghy in 1833. and the present Church was built
in 1870. the Tower and Spire being preserved'.
After consideration of this concise summary of
history, the visitor may well look around the porch itself and upwards
to a tablet inscribed 'Wm. Stewart Esq. of Wilmont. Obit 19th March
1808, age at 25. Erected by his sons John and Thomas Alexander Stewart'.
The eye is again drawn upwards to the Stewart Coat of
Arms: A fess chequey, overall a band engraved. Crest: A pelican in her
piety feeding three young. Motto: Virescit Vulnere Virtus (translated
'Her Virtue Flourishes by her Wound'). To the left on the wall is a
keystone shaped block of sandstone let into the wall with the
inscription 'A Free Howse 1675'. The stone was in the possession of Mrs
Dooner of Portballintrae who gave it to the Revd. H.L. Uprichard to be
placed in the church. Beside it is a framed typescript of the legend 'A
Free Howse'. The story is preserved for us in 'Fragments that Remain'
by Alex Wilson, and here it is:
A Free Howse
`About the year 1640, Miss Anna Wilson, daughter of
the Laird of Crogline, near Dumfries in Scotland, came on a visit to
relatives in Ireland attended by a trusty servant. She landed at
Donaghadee and on her way to Dublin reached the small 'Bell Inn' at
Drumbeg, intending to pass the night there. But not finding
accommodation, the landlady proposed that she should go to a Mr
Stewart's of Ballydrain (whom she knew to be absent at the time) and
that she should apply to his housekeeper who would put her up for the
night. They proceeded accordingly and were met with every kindness. But
in the middle of the night the young man (John Stewart) of the house
unexpectedly returned, and on being told of what had happened, desired
to see the young lady even though she was asleep. This one vision was
enough to determine him to follow her to Dublin, which he did, and soon
brought her home as his wife to Ballydrain.
When the couple were well on in years they had a
little house built by the entrance to Ballydrain on the road which was
already becoming the highway (later the Coach Road) from Belfast to
Dublin. Here accommodation was provided free of charge to belated
travellers, and a big block of sandstone was placed above the door.
Evidently this was to be a permanent memorial to John and Anna's
The free house continued to serve its purpose until
the beginning of the 19th Century by which time it had become
dilapidated. When it was pulled down, the 'Free Howse' stone was
preserved until it came into our possession as recorded above.
The history of the Stewarts of Ballydrain is partly
recorded on the tombstones against the wall of the new vestry. There are
two similar accounts of the Wilson and Stewart histories. The first and
oldest stone reads 'Here lyeth the body of Anna Wilson, daughter of John
Wilson Laird of Crogline, wife to John Stewart of Ballydrain, who
departed this life 26th December 1682, aged 63 years'. This stone bears
one of the oldest dates to be found in our churchyard and it is well
worth a closer inspection for the narrative it contains.
The south wall of the porch is taken up by a window
now filled with a stained glass representation of St Patrick, by
Caldermac of Belfast, in memory of the late Samuel Rentoul McGarvey,
M.A., Rector of Drumbeg 1927-1953. Beside it is a marble tablet on the
wall 'To the memory of Thomas Walker, A.M., who died at Buxton, 6th
August 1874 aged 66 years'. He rests in the adjacent vault of his
son-in-law Thomas Montgomery. His epitaph reads 'He was a good man and
full of the Holy Ghost and of Faith'. He was Rector of Tamlaght-o-Crilly,
Diocese of Derry and a former Rector of Drumbeg. A bronze tablet is just
beside the 'Free Howse' stone recording the gift of the peal of bells by
Mr & Mrs A Willis of Ballyfinaghy. There are eight bells on a carillon
operated from the floor above. Quite invisible to nearly everyone except
those who take the trouble to climb the steep ladders leading up to the
bell chamber, these bells are used also to ring out a peal for the bride
as she appears on the steps after her wedding. When no-one is available
to go up to the ringing chamber above, the old bell comes into its own.
Now here is one of our oldest artefacts and well worth a 'note' in
passing. With some difficulty, a rubbing was made and it is printed here
W.P. Wightman made mee 1685'. It has a distinctive tone and brings
memories of days gone by to those who were called to worship by its
ringing many years ago. It was rung by Matthew Neill from 1908 -1936, by
his son Alex from 1936 - 1969 and it is still rung by his grandson
Matthew today! We toll it also to mark the passing of the faithful from
Between the entrance door to the church and the porch
is a short passageway lighted by a small window, now filled with stained
glass in memory of Brian David Uprichard who died in Germany on 28th
August, 1974. He was the second son of the late Horace Uprichard, whose
memorial tablet is now affixed below the window and reads 'The Reverend
Horace Launcelot Uprichard, R.A.F. Chaplain 1944 - 1950, Rector of
Drumbeg 1953 - 1982, died 6th February 1994 aged 76 years'.
In a moving ceremony, it was dedicated on 28th August
1994 by the Bishop of Down and Dromore, the Right Revd. Gordon McMullan,
exactly twenty years after David died in Germany.
A glance back into the porch, as we prepare to enter
the church, will bring to our notice two carved high-backed chairs which
stand on either side of the back wall of the porch. These were given by
Mr P. Brand about twenty years ago. The porch would seem very bare
Now we enter the present church by the west end of
the nave. Here one can see the cruciform shape of the building. The
baptistry immediately facing the door was made in 1962 by the removal of
three pews from the nave and by the provision of an oak-panelled
enclosure for the font. It was the gift of the late Sir Brian and Lady
Morton and the baptistry is a memorial to their son Brian, who died in
1960 aged 12 years. The font, which originally was situated just at the
centre of the nave, is made of Caen stone and was presented to the
church by Mary Charley in 1870.
Much of the detail of the construction and furniture
is contained in the circulars printed to give notice of the Consecration
of the Church, and the press account of the event. It would be tedious
to repeat what has already been recorded in these, so we will have a
look at what has not already been mentioned in detail.
As we stand at the west end entrance and look up the
nave towards the Chancel, the rings of lamps called somewhere in the
records 'Corunnas', are worth a word of explanation. Many visitors, and
especially visiting clergy, approve of the design of the wrought iron
which matches the ironwork of the Chancel railings. In fact they were
made to match by the firm of Brawn & Downing Ltd, 69 Clement Street,
Birmingham and installed for the dedication of the new church in 1870.
They were made to the design of the architect, Sir Thomas Drew, and as
such are an integral part of the 1870 church. However, but for the
foresight of the Sexton, Alex Neill, they might have ended up on the
scrap heap. The minutes of 22nd March 1933 tell us that the Sexton was
instructed to dispose of the oil lamps at 7/6 each for the small ones
and 15/= for the larger ones. The lamps went, but not the fittings.
At that time the old rings of lamps (oil lamps of
course) were taken down and modern electric fittings were placed behind
each of the roof trusses at the level of the wall plate. They were large
reflectors about a foot in diameter, each holding a 250 watt lamp. The
effect was dramatic. Whereas the old oil lamps (rarely all lit) burnt
with an amber glow and sometimes smoked dreadfully, filling the church
with fumes (which in the olden days was an acceptable smell, signifying
a certain hallowedness peculiar to churches in general) the new lighting
was brilliantly clear, free from atmospheric pollution and made it
possible for those with impaired vision to read their books with ease.
Many, but not all, rejoiced in the bright modernity with which the new
lighting transformed the church interior. Some old fashioned
stick-in-the-mud parishioners lamented the passing of the soft gentle
radiance which had seemed to cast an ambience of holiness on the
Services in the evenings, and some even dared to look up towards the
panelled ceiling which had been such a beautiful feature of the building
but was no longer visible beyond the brilliance of the new lighting. The
effect of the reflectors was to create a truly well-lit church from the
wall plates down, but the ceiling, with its rafters and panel board, was
virtually eclipsed. Still one gets used to a thing after a while and new
generations who knew not the old glory were none the wiser.
Every now and again when someone had an errand to the
stables and noticed a heap of old iron covered with mouldy bags and an
old tarpaulin, the question would arise of what could be done to get rid
of the scrap and tidy the place up a bit. Alex Neill quietly steered the
inquisitor onto another track and bided his time.
Thirty five years passed until Tom Boreland raised
the question with James Allen, the Rector, Horace Uprichard, and a
couple more about the possibility of restoring the old lamps. When they
had been carted over to the Parochial Hall it was decided to get them
cleaned and modified to hold electric lamps. The first centre ring was
put up in 1968 and met with approval. So preparations were made to get
them all 'converted' and restored. Unfortunately Alex Neill saw only the
centre ring installed, but he had the satisfaction of knowing that they
would all be done shortly. They were all up and electrified shortly
after his death and just before Tom Boreland died in 1970. The electric
fittings and shades that we have today came from Walter Allen & Co Ltd
of Lisburn, who refused to accept any payment for them. James Allen (no
relation of the firm) made the wooden blocks on which they are seated.
Now for an interesting corollary to this tale. Still
remaining stored in the new Vestry cupboard were two small three-lamp
holders and one four-lamp holder. Another fifteen years passed before
our present Rector, Canon Cecil Cooper, decided to get something done
about them and, although some of the fittings and hooks to suspend them
on in each transept were missing, it was decided to get new ones made by
the local blacksmith.
Now the question of getting 10 new lamps to match the
others arose. Mr Robert Allen of Walter Allen & Co., Lisburn, remembered
that the originals had been supplied by Sigal Bros. of London but he
doubted if an exact match would be possible. We sent a drawing of the
fittings and shades to Sigal Bros. and in due course received, in a
telephone conversation with one of the directors, the information that
the lamps had long since been withdrawn from their catalogue, because
the makers in Italy were no longer supplying them, but they had managed
to locate in the attic above their premises two five-branch chandeliers
which had lamps identical to those we were seeking. When they were
forwarded to us they were indeed the same: ten identical lamps, exactly
enough for two three-lamp chandeliers in the transepts and four lamps
for the one in the chancel. Now the lighting is restored to what it was
over forty years before and the beautiful ceiling is visible for all to
The pews are of pine, as installed in 1870, although
actually two inches closer together than originally intended. This was
done in 1888 when the pew rent idea referred to elsewhere was abandoned.
The intention was to put an extra two pews into the nave on each side
and at least one extra to match on each side of the transept, eight
seats in all, at say, six persons to a seat, a total of nearly 50 extra
people. However since then the creation of the new vestry entrance in
the south transept, the provision of the organ console area and the
rearrangement of the front three pews on either side together with those
lost at the baptistry, has offset any gain originally intended. Without
bringing in extra chairs or benches the church will seat about 260
Various tablets adorn the walls, erected over the
years to commemorate parishioners or benefactors. The War Memorial is in
the form of a marble tablet inscribed with the names of those who gave
their lives in the First World War, with an additional plaque underneath
containing the names of those who died in the 1939 -1945 war. It was
dedicated on Sunday 12th September 1920 at Morning Prayer by the Revd.
James Quinn, Chaplain to the forces and Rector of St Michael's, Shankill
Road, Belfast, who served with the Royal Irish Rifles. The names of the
men who gave their lives in the service of their King and Country are
arranged alphabetically with their rank and Regiment. On two successive
Sundays prior to the making of the tablet by Purdy & Millard Ltd, these
names had been placed in the porch of the church so that all might have
an opportunity to see them in case any had been overlooked.
In preparation for the unveiling ceremony on that
Sunday, the pulpit was draped with a large Union Jack and the tablet was
surrounded by floral decorations, this work being neatly executed by Mr
R. Foster, gardener to Mr J.B. Morrison. The churchwarders, Adam Woods
and W.R. Oakman, requested Mr Quinn to unveil the memorial. The Rector,
the Revd. Dr. Hamphill, read the names of those who had given their
lives, while the congregation stood in silence.
After the unveiling, Sergeant Larmour and Corporal
Dobson of St Michael's C.L.B. Company, under the command of Captain W.
Perry, sounded the Last Post and half of the Reveille and a verse of the
National Anthem was sung. The music was a feature of the service and
included Stainer's beautiful anthem 'What are these that are arrayed in
white robes'. The organ accompaniment was effectively played by the
organist, Mr Robert Gurd. There was a large congregation to pay tribute
to the fallen.
Further along on this north wall of the nave is a
brass tablet erected in memory of Major J.W. Charley who died at Colenso
on 15th December 1899. Another tablet in the north transept also records
the passing of a member of this family, Matthew Charley of Finaghy. In a
separate article we have detailed some of the many benefactions made by
the Charley family.
The south side of the nave has two tablets in memory
of relatives of parishioners who are still very active in promoting the
welfare of the Parish.
The first of these reads 'In memory of Henry Alan
Wilson, 2nd Lieut. Royal Enniskilling Fusiliers, born 8th July 1921,
killed in action in Burma 16th April 1942. Pro-Patria'. This tablet was
dedicated at the same time as the chancel steps, etc in 1944 and is
dealt with in the article on the chancel improvements.
The second tablet on this wall of the nave reads 'In
memory of William Arthur Anderson, D.L., M.A., M.D., M�daille D'or des
Epid�mes of Ballygowan House, Drumbeg. For 42 years surgeon at the Eye,
Ear and Throat Hospital, Belfast 1885 - 1956'.
The windows on this south side of the nave are now
illuminated by concealed strip lighting which was installed in 1968 when
the new Vestry was made, in the space between the tower and the south
This vestry and robing room was constructed of the
stones and window mullions of the old front gate lodge of Ballydrain
House which was pulled down in 1966 when the present owners, Malone Golf
Club, took over the estate. We were fortunate to secure these stones at
a nominal cost. They are the same kind of granite and sandstone window
surrounds as those in the church building and match it exactly, so that
from the outside it is difficult to detect that an addition has been
Inside, with fluorescent lighting, oak wood-block
floors, modern furniture, piano, and cloak-room, the contrast between
the two vintages could not be greater.
This vestry, large enough to be used for choir
practices, bible classes, or even making a cup of tea on special
occasions, as well as being a fine reception room for visiting clergy,
is actually the only additional construction to the 1870 cruciform
church, but it is so well designed as to be an indispensable part of the
church fabric today. When the last two surviving members of the
Montgomery family expressed a wish to endow a suitable memorial to their
grandparents, several ideas were discussed, including making a memorial
garden of the field behind the wall which belongs to the church
(formerly the garden of the Drum House). Happily, the provision of the
New Vestry was agreed and endowed by the Crawford brothers. It was
dedicated on 7th April 1968. The two stained glass windows in the Vestry
showing the Arms of Down Diocese and the Arms of the Province of Armagh
were given by Mr Stewart Mackie and were dedicated on the same day. The
plaque above the door entering from the porch reads `This Vestry was
endowed by Kenneth and Hugh Crawford as a memorial to the Montgomery
family of Ballydrain, 7th April 1968'. At Vestry meetings when there are
seventeen persons present the new Vestry is comfortably filled. How did
visiting clergy fare in the old vestry which is less that a quarter of
the size of the present one?
After the removal of the dividing wall in 1937 it was
possible to hold meetings in this old vestry, but in very cramped
conditions. Undoubtedly, before that, the vestry meetings were held in
the south transept or in the Parochial Hall.
The chairs mentioned in the press report of the
dedication are now one on each side of the chancel. They were the gift
of Margaret Airth Coates for the 1870 rebuilding and are used by
visiting clergy, one of them by the Bishop at Confirmation Services.
Margaret Coates' home was at Rathmore near Dunmurry and a fuller account
of the Coates family is given under the heading of `Rathmore'.
On the side facing the congregation, the chancel arch
has the inscription 'O lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise
the Lord', but on the chancel side of the arch, the inscription is in
Latin 'Ne Quo Modo, Quam Aliis Predicarum Ipse Reprobus Fiam'. This is
directed towards the clergy. It is the quotation from St Paul's First
Epistle to the Corinthians, Chapter 9, Verse 27, taken from the Epistle
for the Sunday called Septuagesima and translates `lest that by any
means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast-away'.
The present communion rails, the communion table,
reredos, credence table, the Rector's prayer desk chair, the Connemara
marble steps and the Wilson tablet were all dedicated in an impressive
service held on Sunday 27th February 1944 at Morning Prayer by the Dean
of Belfast, the Very Reverend W.S. Kerr. Due to wartime restrictions,
the alterations had been authorised by the Ministry of Commerce and were
carried out by the contractors Purdy & Millard Ltd, Belfast. An
application for financial assistance was made to the `Beresford Fund'
but whether this was approved is not recorded.
As we look at the chancel today it is difficult to
comprehend the complete transformation that this work effected in the
east end of the church.
The chancel had been a source of trouble to rectors
and churchwardens for seventy years, due mainly to damp penetrating
around the windows and seeping down the walls. This was very evident
prior to 1924 when, during the re-slating of the building, opportunity
was taken to remove the old wall-covering of ornamental blue paper which
had a motif of gold embossed on it, mostly stars, which had been applied
perhaps with the idea of concealing the damp patches, but to no avail.
The old wall paper had become mouldy and discoloured, making the
appearance worse and preventing the walls from breathing. After the
renovation of 1924, the replastered walls had been coloured in a light
grey paint, which in turn became dull and dingy.
The three steps leading up to the chancel were of
grey stone slabs, which from time to time were given a coat of whitewash
or whiting, bisected by the old grey-brown matting which had become
filled with dust over the years, in spite of frequent brushings and
Behind the high metal screen hung with plum coloured
curtains, the officiating clergyman was concealed, except when reading
the lessons or administering communion within the plain wooden rails.
The communion table was a low oblong bench covered with a plum coloured
cloth more or less matching the rood screen curtains. In 1944 all this
was swept away, even the old chair (now in the back vestry room) on
which successive clergymen had been seated behind the prayer desk and,
due to the generosity of parishioners, new furniture was installed. The
beautifully ornamented oak communion table and the reredos on either
side as well as the small credence table were the gifts of Mr & Mrs
Scott, parents of the late N.M. Scott, who for twenty years from 1957 to
1976 was a churchwarden and greatly respected member of the Select
Vestry. The brass plate on the side of the table reads: The gift of
William and Anne Scott as a thank offering on the 50th Anniversary of
their marriage, 13th March 1943'.
The communion rails in oak to match the table were
given by Mrs Wilson of Deramore Park `In proud and loving memory of
Henry Alan Wilson, the gift of his mother, 1944". On the same day, the
Wilson memorial plaque on the south wall of the church was dedicated as
well. A fuller description of the family connection with Drumbeg is
given under The Sons of Drumbeg'. These gifts, together with the
Connemara marble steps and the new prayer desk chair greatly enhanced
the appearance of the chancel. With the removal of the top parts of the
metalwork screen and the old dusty curtains and matting, the
transformation was complete. The walls had been given a coat of cream
paint which lightened the whole area and added to the impression of
spaciousness which we now take for granted. Perhaps the most
aesthetically pleasing of the gifts to the church, as a building, were
dedicated on 12th June 1960; pew runners and kneelers to match and the
sisal matting in the pews, nave and transepts. These greatly improve the
look of the interior and add to the comfort of our parishioners. The pew
runners and kneelers were given by Mrs Phebe Anderson and the sisal
matting in the pews, nave and transepts was presented by Mr W.
The more observant visitor may ask questions about
the two freestanding benches on either side of the chancel steps. In
fact they are coffin trestles, predating the present church in usage,
and they were made of bog-oak. For centuries the only fuels available
for heating and cooking were timber and turf. Since the poorer people
had only occasional access to timber for logs, the main fuel was turf.
Large areas of the Lagan Valley had rich deposits of peat bog whose
existence may still be visualised in the level lands along the Lagan
banks and on the plateau around Drumbo. Much of the turf used as fuel
around Drumbeg came from the Drumbo bogs. It is therefore quite possible
that the preserved stumps of ancient trees used to fashion these old
trestles came from within the boundary of the Parish. If this is so then
they are by a long way the oldest artefacts in the church. It is not
possible to say when they were given, but the material from which they
were made could be six thousand years old! We use them for flower stands
at Harvest and on special occasions without a thought of their history.
In the text of the account of the consecration of the
building in 1870, mention is made of the prayer desk as the gift of the
architect but indeed there are now two identical desks. The second one,
a copy of the original, was made in 1957-58. The brass plaque on the
side is inscribed This desk was made by James Allen, a member of the
Select Vestry 1958'. He was a craftsman in wood who made several other
improvements to the interior of the church. Mention has already been
made of the wooden discs on which the lamps were mounted, but his
greatest contribution was probably the extension of the panelling below
the windows and up to the communion railings, dedicated on 13th May 1962
by the Bishop, the Right Revd. Frederick Julian Mitchell, before the
Confirmation Service. When the new communion table was given in 1944,
the reredos behind the table extended only to the edge of the wall on
either side. For 18 years we had been accustomed to the bare wall below
the windows and on into the chancel. So it was a debatable point whether
the extension of the panelling would destroy the visual impact of the
sanctuary. Much thought was given to the project and James Allen made a
plywood mock-up of the proposed work which satisfied everyone as to the
effectiveness of the reredos extension. When it was completed, a new
dimension was added to the appearance of the chancel when viewed from
the nave. The new panelling seemed to give increased depth to the
In many other ways James Allen made a devout
contribution to the welfare of Drumbeg as vestry man, in counting
freewill offerings for many years, in repairing things that needed it,
in building the kitchen extension to the Parochial Hall, in arranging
collectors at evening services and in faithful attendance for a
lifetime. He was baptised in Drumbeg and it is fitting that his skill
lives after him and is recorded on one of his best works, the Rector's
The book of Common Prayer contains a form of
consecrating of an Archbishop or Bishop, and an order for the Public
Institution of a minister to a cure. It also contains the form and
manner of making, ordaining and consecrating of Bishops, Priests, and
Deacons, and goes on to tell us that these Orders of Ministers in
Christ's Church, from the Apostles' time, were evermore held in reverend
estimation. Although we do not have deacons just now in Drumbeg, it
seems appropriate to consider the careers of the three persons who
presently hold the offices of our Primate, our Bishop, and our Rector.
Every day that goes by, we are made more and more
aware of the wisdom of the choice of the Most Revd. Dr. R.H.A. Eames as
Archbishop of Armagh and the Primate of all Ireland. At a time when,
through the cessation of twenty-five years of conflict, the attention of
the world's press, radio and television has been focused on Northern
Ireland as it has never been before, it is vital that the quality of
leadership presented to the media on our behalf should be of the
highest. In the calm, reasonable yet authoritative portrayal of the
church's concerns in the momentous events of these times, our Primate is
surely proving the choice of the man for the times. We could not have
A framed list of the succession of Bishops for the
Diocese of Down and the Diocese of Dromore hangs in our new Vestry. The
earliest date on the list of the Diocese of Down is 584 and on the
Dromore list the year 974. Over all the centuries since then, the Church
has had many outstanding Bishops leading their people faithfully. In
that tradition we are indeed blessed that our present bishop, the Right
Revd. Dr. Gordon McMullan, is not only a man of great charm and
graciousness, but a gifted scholar whose roots are in the city and who
shared the workplace before being ordained, thus bringing to his
ministry that depth of understanding and humanity which are so evident
in all his dealings with his Diocese: a kindly friend and father in God,
a synopsis of whose career to date we are privileged to include in our
recollections of the Parish of Drumbeg.
To conclude this trilogy, our present rector, Canon
C.W.M. Cooper, has furnished us with a summary of his career before he
was instituted to this parish. He, too, has had the experience of
working in industry before being ordained, thus acquiring a fuller
understanding of the problems of the laity, augmented as well by his
wide experience over many years in the production and editing of the
Church of Ireland Gazette.
AN AUSPICIOUS SIGNATURE
August 14th, 1960
The Preacher's books of the parish span a period of
173 years and contain the signatures of the clergy who read the service
or preached the sermon or, mostly, did both. What a wonderful collection
of names it is! Bishops, Deans, Canons and many signatures of Clergy who
would later fill these important offices in the service of the Church
and of their Lord and Master. In recent years the number of lay-men
taking the services has increased and our records contain the names of
these as well.
On 14th August 1960, in the absence of the Rector,
the Revd. Horace Uprichard, the evening service was taken by a young
lawyer lay-reader. There were 41 people present at that Service and it
is almost certain that every one of them was greatly impressed with the
competent, confident manner of the young man whose warm humanity and
deep faith were evident from beginning to end.
Afterwards, in the old vestry by the back door of the
Church, the vestry-man who was seeing him out as he gathered up his
Queen's scarf and his case with the letters R.H.A.E. on the lid, said to
him, `It's a great pity! What the law will gain, the church will lose'.
Perhaps these few words uttered with absolute
conviction were lodged in the sub-conscious mind of the young man so
that when the call of Jesus Christ became irresistible, they would add a
feather-weight to the balance in favour of the Sacred ministry. Neither
of them could have been aware of the germinative consequences for the
Church of Ireland, or indeed the Anglican Communion as a whole, that
decision would promote.
Of course he had signed the preacher's book. His
signature is on the fifth line from the top, and the photograph at his
ordination as Deacon, together with five of his fellow ordinands is
||Newly Ordained Clergy (left to
right) Robin Eames (now our Primate), Hugh Patrick
(Vicar in Yorkshire), Desmond Andrews (deceased, late
Vicar of St Mary's Newry), Neill Steadman (Vicar of-Brampton
Parish, Crumlin), William B. Neill (Archdeacon of
Dromore), Joseph Cully (deceased, late of St John's
Do you know the young man who is first on the left of
the picture? Yes of course, the young lawyer, lay-reader and ordinand in
the picture is now the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland,
the Most Revd. R.H.A. Eames, LLB., Ph.D., LLD., D.Litt. We have followed
his career with keen interest and some pride that our church provided
one small stepping-stone on the way to that most eminent position which
he has attained in the Church of Ireland.
THE RIGHT REVD. GORDON McMULLAN
A.C.I.S., B.Sc. (Econ.), Dip. Rel. Stud. (Cantab.),
M.Phil. (Peace Studies), Ph.D., Th.D.
The Right Revd. Dr. Gordon McMullan is the Church of
Ireland Bishop of Down and Dromore within the world-wide Anglican
Communion. It is a diocese which includes half of the city of Belfast,
all of County Down and part of County Armagh. Prior to ordination,
Bishop McMullan worked in the aircraft and manufacturing industry and
later in the petroleum industry.
He was educated at Park Parade School, Belfast,
Belfast Technical High School, Belfast College of Technology, Queen's
University, Belfast, Ridley Hall, Cambridge, Trinity College, Dublin,
Irish School of Ecumenics: A.C.I.S., 1957, B.Sc. (Econ.), 1961, G.O.E.,
1962, Dip. Rel. Stud. (Cantab) 1978, M.Phil. (Peace Studies) 1990, Ph.D.
(Irish Economic and Social History) 1971, Th.D. (Interaction of
Doctrine, Politics and Economics in Experience of the Church of Ireland
Prizeman 1957, Double Prizeman 1959, Double Prizeman
1960, Mercers' Company Exhibition 1961.
Curate of Ballymacarrett (Down) 1962-67. Central
Adviser on Christian Stewardship to the Church of Ireland 1967-70.
Curate of St. Columba, Knock (Down) 1970-71. Incumbent of St. Brendan,
Sydenham (Down) 1971-76. Officiating Chaplain, Royal Air Force 197178.
Incumbent of St. Columba, Knock (Down) 1976-80. Archdeacon of Down
1979-1980. Chairman of B.B.C. (N.I.) Religious Advisory Committee and
member of nation-wide Central Religious Advisory Committee for six
||A Cross and Beyond 1976
||We are called ... 1977
||Everyday Discipleship 1979
||Reflections on St. Mark's Gospel 1984
Growing Together in Prayer 1990
||Reflections on St. Luke's Gospel 1993/94
Elected Bishop of Clogher by Electoral College on 13th June, 1980.
Consecrated in St. Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh on 7th September, 1980.
Enthroned in St. Macartan's Cathedral, Clogher on 10th September, 1980.
Enthroned in St. Macartin's Cathedral, Enniskillen on 21st September,
1980. Elected Bishop of Down and Dromore by Electoral College on 7th
Enthroned in Dromore Cathedral on 27th May, 1986. Enthroned in Down
Cathedral on 29th October, 1987.
Bishop McMullan is married to Kathleen. He is involved in various
areas of cross-community work and building bridges of mutual
understanding in a divided community.
OUR PRESENT RECTOR
Canon C.W.M. Cooper, M.A.
Like at least three of his predecessors, Cecil William
Marcus Cooper was born into a clerical environment; indeed he was the
son of Canon and Mrs Mark Cooper of Timahoe Rectory, Co Leix, his
father's first parish.
Educated at Campbell College, Belfast, he graduated
from Trinity College, Dublin, in 1958, having spent five years in
industry and a number of years teaching at St. Stephen's School, Dundrum,
Dublin. He was ordained in 1959 for St Fin Barre's Cathedral, Cork, and
while in Cork he married Olive Perrott, who was a Captain in the Queen
Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps and has since then been a great
help to him in his ministry.
He moved to Kilkenny Cathedral when he was appointed
Bishop's Vicar and Registrar of the United Diocese of Ossory, Ferns and
Leighlin, and then to Northern Ireland as Curate of Knockbreda Parish.
Belfast where he remained until 1967 when he was instituted as Rector of
Magheradroll Parish, Ballynahinch, where he ministered for fifteen
Following the retirement of the Revd. Horace
Uprichard, due to ill health, the Revd. C.W.M. Cooper was appointed
Rector of Drumbeg and instituted on Thursday 28th October 1982. His
previous experience in Kilkenny as Registrar was recognised when he
became Diocesan Registrar for Down and Dromore from 1981 until 1990. His
talents for administration and public relations were also put to good
use when he became Assistant Editor of the Church of Ireland Gazette in
1966, and Editor in 1982, a position he now holds with distinction. He
was a member of the Communications Team which attended the Lambeth
Conference in Canterbury in 1988. He was appointed Canon of Down
Cathedral in 1986 and installed as Chancellor in 1991.
Canon Cooper came to Drumbeg when the period of
violence and bloodshed euphemistically called 'the troubles'
was already ten years old. During his thirteen years ministry to date he
has steered the parish into the present period of peace. His
cheerfulness, enthusiasm and dedication are reflected in the
accomplishments of his ministry. In his first address to the Select
Vestry he proposed to make only the most modest changes to the pattern
of services, and then proceeded to introduce Parish Communion on the
last Sunday in the month, to the surprise of many of the 167
parishioners at that service, who found themselves sharing in the Lord's
Supper, some of them for the first time. That the experience was well
worth while, is reflected in the very considerable increase in
attendances at Holy Communion Services since that time.
Maintenance of the fabric of the church again was
necessary when the weather-cock became unhinged from its mounting and
caused cracks to appear in the first ten feet of the pinnacle. With
typical enthusiasm, Canon Cooper 'inspired' a campaign which, inside
three weeks, had raised the sum of twenty three thousand pounds, more
than enough to pay off the contractors and leave a balance as the
nucleus of a `Fabric Fund'.
On the spiritual side too we have benefited from his
wise guidance. In this Decade of Evangelism we were joined by Archdeacon
John Barton from Aston in the Diocese of Birmingham who, in November
1992, initiated a week of spiritual renewal, which is still motivating
our worship. We look forward to the Flower Festival in September this
year when Archdeacon Barton will preach at the two Harvest Services on
this the 125th Anniversary of the consecration of the present church.
We wish Canon and Mrs Cooper many happy days in the
Rectory at Drumbeg.