What a wonderful place, a monastery in a Classical house (1843, but no suggestion of the Gothic) beside its silver stream in the gentle countryside of County Meath, but within a few minutes of Dublin airport! I was privileged to be asked to give retreat addresses there last week; but what a privilege just to be there!
I suppose Anglicans of my generation might suffer from a nostalgia trip down memory lane: the particular lane in question being Nashdom in the high days of the Anglican Benedictine House of which Dom Gregory Dix had been such an ornament. The Chapel is not exactly, as at Nashdom, a Russian princely ballroom, but the feel is very similar. Most significant, of course, the melodies of the antiphons in the monastic breviary, and of the Graduale Romanum, which I don't think I have heard in the more than half a century since I visited Nashdom. But there is nothing retro about the community, which is entirely young and very vital, led by its charismatic prior Dom Mark Kirby. It is supplemented by young men known as 'observers', who are having a first nibble at the monastic life. Australian accents are a big part of the mix! And it was fun to meet a priest of the Ethiopian Church, based in Dublin, who feels at home during his visits ... happy to be among fellow monks, and, formed in the Ge'ez Liturgical texts, very appreciative of worship in a hieratic language! I wonder if the Ethiopian Church uses the works of Christine Mohrmann in its clerical formation?!
In many curious ways, the feel of Silverstream is very Anglican (several English Missals seem to lurk around). I was dead chuffed to be asked to celebrate, one morning, the Ordinariate Rite for the Chapter Mass: we rather think that this was the first use of our own particular rite in Ireland. It went down like a ... whatever it is that goes down very well!
The Sunday Mass is probably more redolent of old Ireland before the liturgical collapses of the 1960s: reverent but with that faint sense of perpetual movement which you get from the presence of a lot of children! The builders of the house [possibly as a dower house???], the Viscounts Gormanston (a genuine Irish medieval Viscountcy ... no whiff of the bribery surrounding the events of 1800-1801 about this title), who kept the Faith, would have felt faintly bewildered but very much at home.
2 March 2015
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As an Anglican in the High Church tradition before our reception into the Church in 1961 my husband often visited Nashdom with a friend. Does it still exist?
Dear Father, I had the pleasure of visiting Silverstream in late September (getting a whiff of the life that could have been?) and it is truly as you say! To have been able to be immersed in the whole of the Liturgy for 3 days was a great blessing. An antiphon from Michaelmas now haunts certain recesses of the halls of memory, taunting me with its (now elusive) melody every now and again.
The Gormanston Viscountcy is in fact the oldest viscountcy in Ireland (and for that matter the whole British Isles; or Atlantic Archipelago if the association of British and Ireland is too strong to stomach).
The Nashdom Community moved from there to Elmore Abbey near Newbury in 1987, and from there to a smaller house in the Close at Salisbury a few years ago. There are now four members of the Community.
The 14th Viscount Gormanston was Governor of Tasmania from 1893 to 1900. According to the Australian Dictionary of Biography, he was a fervent Catholic; I seem to recall reading that, during his Governorship, he maintained a chapel at Government House. The town of Gormanston, named after him, has declined into a minor settlement.
Good that you got to visit Silverstream in my old diocese, Father. Thanks to the good offices of a local PP and Bishop Smith, Dom Kirby and his community found a home there after Tulsa. Not having been back to Ireland in 20+ years I haven’t had a chance to visit. Back in the day we knew it as the Visitation Sisters Convent in Stamullen.
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