A Tale of Two Churches
St Mark's Church, Parish of Ballymacash

Mr Brian Kelly


St Mark's Looks To The Future

At the 1943 Easter General Vestry held in the Old School House in Derriaghy the following reference was made to the recent death of Robert Brown of Pond Park:

"We have lost as a parish a diocesan synodsman, a parochial nominator and a member of the Select Vestry while St Mark's has lost a Chapelwarden, a member of the choir and its honorary treasure." Vicar Rev JG King recalled that in his predecessor's time Mr Brown had been given but a few hours to live by his doctors; which meant that all he has done in the last seven years had been carried out fighting bravely against the terrible disability and uncertainty of a very bad heart. Many a time walking to Lisburn to lodge the Church money he was to have to pause every few hundred yards to rest and regain his breath and strength.

The departure of Rev JL Spence to the Parish of Larne brought Rev SS Singer to Derriaghy and on account of being awarded the highest marks of the twelve deacons being ordained at St Anne's Cathedral on 11 July 1943 he was to read the Gospel at his ordination.

It was also a period when major re-organisation within the Church of Ireland was under consideration and in particular that of the advisability of providing a second Bishop for the Diocese of Down and Connor and Dromore in which roughly 50% of the population of the whole Church of Ireland is resident, while 50% is scattered over the twelve other Dioceses, each under the care of a Bishop. The matter was discussed at the Diocesan Synod in November 1943 and was later to see the the division of the Diocese into Connor and Down and Dromore.

Very much part of the Christmas celebrations within the Parish of Derriaghy at the time was that of the Services Christmas Gift Fund. Every service member of the armed forces within the Parish was sent a postal order for 5/- and a Christmas Card stamped 'Parish of Derriaghy' while a Red Cross Parcel was provided for each Prisoner of War. A Christmas cantata in 1944 featured the combined choirs of St Mark's and the Parish Church with soloists Misses Margaret and Jean Cairns and Messrs John Quinn and James Morrison.

It was reported at the Easter Vestry held in the Old School House on 6 April 1945 that the Church "has a major part to play in the aftermath of victory. The appeal, for example, of the open Sunday Cinema must be met and defeated on its own grounds and by a greater appeal."

Colours for the 1st Ballymacash Group of the Scouts were dedicated on 15 April 1945 while a Thanksgiving Service was held in both Churches to celebrate the cessation of hostilities in Europe. A warm welcome was extended by Vicar JG King to the returning prisoners of war and wallets of notes were presented to Leathern Fletcher of Nettle Hill and Frederick Heasley.

Frances Elizabeth Malcolm, a choir member of St Mark's was married in the Parish Church to Howard Rudolf Little of the United States Forces on June 11 1945. Helen Fenning on behalf of the choir made a presentation to the newly-weds on June 16 in the Parochial Hall, an occasion which was reportedly cut short because Mr Little had to leave early the next morning bound for France.

Mid-August saw Rev VS Dungan, who had been in charge of St Mark's appointed to the Parish of Killane, Co Wexford and when Rev SS Singer was to move to Downpatrick, Vicar King was to be assisted by Rev CK McLeod, Rector of Christ Church and Rev WJR Benson, Rector of St Mary Magdalene. It was reported that six members of the Richardson family - Noreen, Edith, Willie, Walter and Irene -had not missed a single Sunday, a remarkable achievement and certainly one worthy of mention.

A measure of this particular period in the history of the Ballymacash district, still under the umbrella of the Parish of Derriaghy, was the vicar had to visit a dozen different bookshops to purchase eight copies of a certain Bible. These were only obtained by visiting four branches of a particular shop, two on the Shankill Road, one in Sandy Row and one here in Lisburn.

The Church of Ireland Monthly which was to be found inside the Parish magazine was full of interesting facts, figures and articles of which I believe it might be interesting to resurrect and it would probably prove that very little has changed! Three such articles were entitled The Northern Education Bill (July 1945), Protestantism and Population (November 1945) and North of The Border (1947).

During 1947 parishioners of St Mark's had been devoting themselves to raising funds for the Bishop's Church Extension Fund in addition to their own Church and Hall Restoration Fund. The Annual Sale at St Mark's, opened by Mrs McLoughlin, virtually doubled the previous year's effort with �110 raised. It was agreed that almost half of the total should be given to the Sunday School Fund - already St Mark's was the largest in the Parish of Derriaghy - while �55 was to be allocated to the extension of the St Mark's Parochial Hall.

Early in 1949 the Ballymacash Orange Hall and Parish Hall were filled to capacity for an event which was to become very much a feature of future fund-raising events not to mention becoming part and parcel of the fellowship of the Parish. For it was the first attempt by Rev Musgrave. (ably assisted by Ken Levis) to produce 'The Flight' a story of the Holy Family's flight into Egypt) presented by the Youth Guild.

While the interior decoration of St Mark's Church was taking place in May divine services were held in the Parochial Hall.

Rev King returned to the Parish for the Re-Opening Service on Friday 10 June 1949 and preached on "the unswerving loyalty of the past and present members of the Church, of their zeal for missionary work and the fellowship within the Church." The cost of re-decorating and painting the interior of the Church was �72, this sum being donated by the Select Vestry while the cost of the external paintwork, new carpet and window blinds came to over �40.

Mr and Mrs McLoughlin presented a beautiful cloth for the Holy Communion Table, tastefully fitted by Miss McClure. A permit was procured for the extension of the Parochial Hall to be built by John McCall during July and August at a cost of �650. Whilst additional money would be required for heating and lighting a balance of �250 was set as the target for St Mark's to raise. June 19 saw the 400th Anniversary of the compilation of the Book of Common Prayer with Rev TNDC Salmon preaching in St Mark's.

The new extension to the Parochial Hall was officially opened on September 14 by Sir J Milne Barbour. A total of �226 was raised at a sale of work which featured such side shows as Mr Frew's Pets Corner and half-hour concerts by the Youth Guild.

March 1951 saw the departure of Rev JR Musgrave to the incumbency of Duneane and Ballyscullion, a country Parish with two Churches. The Vicar Rev PAG Sheppard reported that he was probably the first curate of Derriaghy to be appointed straight from Derriaghy to a parish of his own in this Diocese. During the past five years Rev Sheppard said that his soon to depart colleague had shown untiring energy, devoted loyalty, genius for organising and leaves in his own area of Ballymacash a thriving Church community centred around the little Church of St Mark.

He would be remembered affectionately for his work in extending the Parochial Hall. He also hoped that the Youth Guild which he had been responsible for establishing would make full use o this new facility. Vicar Rev Sheppard presented to Rev Musgrave a wallet containing �70 and an envelop with �20 towards the procuring of his MA degree and hood while Rev Musgrave's successor was to be Rev B Campion.

After preaching his first sermon on June 3 in the Parish Church the Rev Campion's stay in Derriaghy and Ballymacash was to be a brief one as he was to accept a curacy in charge of Preban and Moyne shortly after the death of his father.

The most successful year St Mark's Youth Guild had enjoyed since its inception was rounded off with a presentation to their founder and former chairman Rev Musgrave at the annual concert produced again by Ken Levis who was also presented with an inscribed cigarette case by Beth Richardson on behalf of the Youth Guild. The help of Miss Balmer, Miss Lovey and Messrs Higginson, Addis, Reid, Jamison and Ingram was also acknowledged.

A further �270 was raised for the Hall Fund bringing the grand total of over �500 to the Fund since 1947 and the Youth Guild were certainly seen to be fulfilling their motto 'Vision, Fellowship and service'. Beth Richardson was elected secretary of the Group with Maureen Abbott treasurer while Wilma Richardson, Jean Malcolm, Joe McKnight and James Gamble were duly elected to the committee with Ken Levis continuing as Leader.

1st Ballymacash Scout Troop camped at Carnlough this year and had as neighbours the lst Derriaghy Troop.

As 1952 dawned there was a concerted effort by the Parish to wripe off the yearly deficit of almosty �200 and to this end the Rector chaired a recently instituted Finance Committee in St Mark's and praise was extended towards the many fund-raising efforts of the Youth Guild (the most recent being a Guest Tea and Beetle Drive). They had met the costs of well over �40 for the entire re-decoration of the Church.

Ballymacash Girl Guides was re-established under the leadership of Miss R Turner and Miss B McShane (Lieutenant) on 14 January and it was encouraging to see a dozen girls between the ages of 11 and 15 at the opening meeting.

Sixty years after St Mark's had been raised from the status of a Hall to a Chapel of Ease the Rector reflected in the magazine that the total cost of building St Mark's - and which was borne by Rev Joseph A Stewart - had been only �172.

"Now �I72 would hardly build the porch. In fact it would only pay the expenses of the St Mark's area for about a couple of months in these days of ever rising costs in every field."

St Mark's was soon to lose the services of its organist Miss Mona Balmer who resigned for family reasons but she had made a significant contribution notably during the anniversary services held on Sunday 15 June 1952 when former Rector Ven Cl Peacocke and former curates Rev JL Spence and Rev VS Dungan were the preachers. A total of �100 was collected at the anniversary services while the presentation by Mrs Fenning on behalf of the choir and parish to Miss Balmer was to be consist of a handbag and diamonte necklet.

Rev WS Packenham-Walsh who was a curate in Derriaghy from 1894-1897 and who during the anniversary celebrations was in charge of two country parishes in England recalled those early years in the life of the Chapel of Ease, of living with Canon and Mrs Moore as there was no curate's accommodation at the time. Although he had been responsible more for the Parish and Colin district than for St Mark's he described St Mark's as being "always well attended; the' singing was always hearty and the religious spirit was deep and vital".

Following further fund-raising activities within St Mark's, including the annual sale in the Parochial Hall which contributed �82 13s 6d to the Extension Fund with a Guest Tea by the Ladies Work Party raising �66 6s the Fund had reached �720 and it was suggested that once the total passed the �1000 mark then work could commence. This was soon surpassed with the annual sale the following year raising �115 while the collections at the Harvest Services were the highest in St Mark's history and �800 had been collected over the previous twelve months for the Extension Fund.

Additional ground required had also been promised through the good wishes of the late Mrs E Brown and plans were examined by the County Surveyor. The contract which was to last around three months was to be given to John F McCall & Sons with services during the building work period being held in the Parochial Hall.

February 1954 was to see the arrival of Rev TWW Jones as senior curate in Derriaghy and he was to obtain accommodation adjacent to the district of Ballymacash at 53 Benson Street.

In one of his opening sermons Rev Jones appealed to parishioners: "I have to labour in the service of God in this part of His vineyard. I pray that with your co-operation and held this work will bear much fruit".

February 19 saw the presentation being made in the Parochial Hall to Rev JW Beamish (curate assistant from 1951-1953) who had been instituted as Rector of the Parish of Coalisland.

As the Parish had agreed to hand over part of the sale of the old curatage, St Mark's would now be approaching the half-way stage in their fund-raising with a further �1350 required. There was however to be further delays in the extension programme when it was agreed that the porch would have to be strengthened to bear the weight of the proposed tower.

�55 was raised by the Youth Guild concert with joint producers J Curran and H McCallum while a variety concert organised by F Heasley and D Keery was to realise a further �38.

A meeting was held on 20 May to re-form the Ballymcash Scout Troop and members were to enjoy a camp at Crawfordsburn later in the year. Rev Jones had become Scout Master, a position he was to hold until 1956. Mrs Hannah Jones was Guide Captain from 1954-56 and a camp was held in the Guide Cottage at Powerscourt, Co Wicklow.

It was interesting to read the August Church Magazine being virtually dominated by news of St Mark's with the Rector almost apologising for this. A Gift Day held on 27 June raised �208 4s 2d with Michael Keery collecting �2 8s in pennies no less. LOL317 donated an additional �40 earmarked for special projects eg a bell.

The Consecration of the Church Extension was held on 15 September 1954 with the Church filled to capacity. The choir, in robes provided by the St Nicholas' Parish choir in Belfast, added a great deal of dignity to the worship. Under the organist Walter Refausse the choir's rendering of 'O taste and see how gracious the Lord is' was the subject of favourable comments from all quarters.

The Lord Bishop of Connor Dr Charles ES King Irwin and clergy went in procession around the Church singing a Psalm while the service itself, with a sermon from Canon CJ McLeod, Rector of Christ Church, Lisburn was memorable.

The following gifts to the Church were also acknowledged; the ground by Mrs E Browne, prayer desks from the Select Vestry of St Stephens, Belfast, hymn boards J Kerr, font from Holy Trinity Parish in Cork, tables and chairs for the vestry, bell and a cross from LOL317 and floor covering from Mr and Mrs Richardson. Mr Dowling also redecorated the font free of charge.

By the beginning of 1955 St Mark's had received the final accounts relating to the Extension; Builders A/c �2765 6s l ld, Architects �171 18s bringing the total to �2937 4s l ld while the Extension Fund stood at over �2,000.

The anniversary of the Guides was held with Mrs TJ Fenning, Lisburn District Commissioner as guest. A birthday cake was cut by Miss K McDonald and Mrs Caswell, two former captains of the company with candles lit by guide Phyllis Elliott and blown out by the Vicar. Another former captain Mrs Hall and a former Lieutenant Miss B McShane were also in attendance. New company colours were dedicated on Sunday 13 March by Rev Jones.

The Easter Vestry in May 1955 saw one member complain at the quality of the magazines for which parishioners were being asked to subscribe 2d. By the end of the year the Parish was indebted to a gift of choir pews from St Stephens in Belfast which enhanced the appearance of St Mark's and complemented the seating which had already been obtained from St Mathias' Church in Dublin. This helped with the task of providing permanent seating for the new part of the Church.

By mid July 1956 the need for an Extension Fund had ceased as a result of a Gift Day which realised �221 8s. In just four years the people of St Mark's had raised �2436 6s 11 d while a grant of �400 was received from the Select Vestry as a share of the sale of the former curatage. A further �100 was received in the form of a legacy from the late Miss Boomer.

5 July 1956 saw the wedding of Betty Armstrong of Ballymacash and Sam McKibbin in St Mark's and because it was the first wedding solemnised in St Mark's a suitably inscribed Bible was presented to the bride.

October saw what initially appeared to be the end of Rev Jones' ministry in Ballymacash when he departed to the Parish of Ballintoy but as we see later he was to return as the first Rector of St Mark's and to play a substantial part in the development of the district for nigh on two decades.

The James Barbour Challenge Cup for table tennis was won in 1957 by St Mark's with the following team: Misses Florence and Edith Richardson, Avril Murdoch, Joan Kerr, Joan Nugent, Messrs Jim McConnell, Billy Reid (capt), Billy Richardson, Gerald Best, Norman Martin and David Stewart.