17 March 2024

Imbolc; S Patrik; and S Bridgit (2)

 But ... one moment ... did I inform you that all the old chapels in Killarney Cathedral had been obliterated? That's not quite right: the Kenmare chapel still survives. And in it is anothe brass which the erudite and affable Fr Bertram, indefatigable antiquarian, might have wished to record. 

It shows a gentleman in the robes and wearing the coronet of an earl.

When the military situation in Brtitain still hung in the balance in 1689, our late Sovereign liege Lord, King James II, was still in Ireland, and holding a Parliament in Dublin. On 20 May, by Letters over the Great Seal of Ireland he created the Head of the Browne Family to be Viscount Kenmare and Baron Castlerosse. After the disaster of Williamite success in Ireland, nobody quite knew what to do about this. The unuttered compromise was ... just to ignore it. At the end of the century, the same titles were granted in the name of the Georgite regime to the de iure Jacobite Viscount; and they were granted again shortly afterwards with an earldom tacked on when, because of the 'Union', peerages of the 'Yewkay' became more politically useful than mere Irish peerages. 

These particular Georgite de facto creations, I think, became 'extinct' in the 1950s. (Conceivably, the old de iure creations of 1689 might not have suffered the same fate. Does anybody know?) There are in existence some very 'Thirties' paintings by dear Sir John Lavery of Lady Castlerosse by the bathing pool at the head of the Lake. 

And, in the 'former' Kenmare chapel of the Cathedral, is this very fime Brass of the then Earl ... perhaps looking rather pleased with himself for having got his rather unique and special de jure peerage Hannoverified; Georgificated. There are also some good tiles with the motto of the Family: LOYAL EN TOUT. I wonder how far back this motto goes ... and to which 'royal' family it proclaims its rather absolute loyalty.

In the Killarney Brass, two scrolls emerge from his Lordship's mouth, One reads: Sancte Patrici ora pro me. The other: Sancta Bridgida ora pro me.

Going back to the Moriarty brass ... in the canopy-work above Bishop Moriarty are representations of these same two Irish Saints.

May they pray for us all.  

And may we always be mindful of that great Christian craftsman and architect A W Pugin, of whom Bishop Moriarty, at the Consecration of the Cathedral, said "I was delighted that the great architect who designed the work was present on that occasion in the person of his own child--Mr Edward Pugin--who was not only the son of his affections but the child of his genius. Where is the Catholic mind that does not remember the mighty spirit of the departed, who has left the impress of his vast mind on the length and breadth of Great Britain and Ireland--who performed the work of centuries, in restoring the taste for ancient architecture, surrounding the temples of God with those forms of beauty which are so instinct with holy suggestions and thoughts." 

Young Edward Pugin himself remarked that ,"even when a child, he remembered hearing his father say that of all the churches which he had designed the Killarney Cathedral was the nearest to his heart, for he had endeavoured to make it a splendid temple to Almighty God". With a characteristic nod to the realities of the the Tourist Trade, he referred to "the vast numbers who flock to gaze on its unrivalled scenery, which, as it were, called, with a voice, half-divine, for the erection of a temple of worship suited to the beauty and majesty with which the God of Heaven had clothed every hill and valley of that earthly paradise."

The inhabitants of the Iveragh like that sort of thing: the Tralee Chronicle records "loud cheers"! In August 1861, Queen Victoria, her family and their entourage, were to pay a spectacular State Visit to Killarney, Lord Castlerosse being their host, but it is not not recorded that the Visit included Mr Pugin's masterpiece. I doubt it!


However, 2024 is, I think, the second year in which the name ... even, the identity, of S Brigid ... has been disrespectfully glossed over. The Irish State ... whatever would Mr Devalera have said, or General Michael Collins, each of them devout men ... has appointed the First Monday of February as a Bank Holiday in honour of ... is it S Brigid or Imbolc or a conflation of both?

My unhappy fear is that this is yet another lamentable expression of the Secularisation, the deChristianistion, of the Irish National State When I first began our visits to that Island, I rejoiced to be setting foot on a part of the British Archipelago where Divorce, Abortion, and all the other horrrs, had no place. 

1 comment:

Terry said...

You tell us, Father Hunwicke, that in the past you “rejoiced” that “divorce, abortion, and all the other horrors, had no place” in the Republic of Ireland. But there were many, many horrors inflicted on young and vulnerable people in Catholic Ireland during the period (roughly 1930 to 1970) when Eamon De Valera and John Charles McQuaid wielded power, each in his own way. What about the physical abuse inflicted on children in schools run by the Christian Brothers? My own father was a victim, and the order itself has now apologised unreservedly for the behaviour of their brothers. What about the inhuman conditions of near slavery endured by girls and young women in the Magdalene laundries? In another unreserved apology, this time by the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, in 2013, the laundries were referred to as "the nation's shame"?

There was so much hideous human suffering in the “Catholic Ireland” of the mid-twentieth century. And surely nobody who is in touch with historical reality could fail to acknowledge this and fail to see the close involvement of the Church and the Irish State in these horrors.

I suggest that Ireland has become a much more compassionate, caring and civilised country since the Church lost its stranglehold on Irish society.

Terry Loane