Bishop Paul Colton unveils RMS Leinster Memorial with a County Cork Connection

In a very wet day on Saturday 13th October,  on a hillside near Courtmacsherry, County Cork, the Bishop of Cork, Dr Paul Colton, unveiled a memorial to Henrietta and Ida Howell, two sisters who lived at Ballycullinane in that parish, and who perished in the sinking of the RMS Leinster when it was hit by two torpedoes on 10th October 1918.

Some of those who attended the unveiling of the Howell Memorial

The two sisters, with family connections to the Church fo Ireland in County Cork, were born in the mid Nineteenth Century, and had settled in Courtmacsherry following a life story that spanned three continents and four countries.  Their full story is told by Mary Holly-O’Leary of the Courtmacsherry and Barryroe District Historical Group that invited Bishop Colton to perform the honours on Saturday.

Bishop Paul Colton unveiled a memorial to Henrietta and Ida Howell who died in the sinking of RMS Leinster

Originally it had been planned to create a new memorial plaque and to place it in the ruins of Lislee Parish Church where the Howell sisters worshipped, however, new information came to light following research and contact with a descendant of the sisters now living in Australia.  Their mother’s grave was identified in the adjoining churchyard. It was decided to add the memorial inscription to that headstone. Ida’s body was never found, and Henrietta’s is buried in an unmarked grave in Dublin.

A minute’s silence was kept, following which Bishop Colton unveiled the memorial and a wreath was laid.  Due to the inclement weather, the gathering then relocated to the Community Centre in Courtmacsherry where Mary Holly-O’Leary told the story of the Howell family. It may be found here:  The Howell Family – Mary Holly-O’Leary

The poem RMS Leinster was read and the local choir sang the hymn Eternal father strong to save.  Bishop Colton addressed the gathering and referred warmly to the President of Ireland’s recent speech at the closing of the Dublin Festival of History and to the President’s use of the phrases ‘contested histories’ and ‘ethical remembering’.  “‘Contested histories” is an important concept,’ he said ‘ because we all do tell our stories and our history from our own point of view, but what about the other person’s point of view?”

The Bishop said:

In this Decade of Centenaries, and in the coming years in particular, especially here in County Cork, local history societies such as this one [Courtmacsherry and Barryroe District Historical Society] play a crucial part in enabling and facilitating conversations about our ‘contested histories’.

Local parishioner, Harold Kingston, read the poem by David Krieger Today is not a good day for war and, before refreshments, the choir concluded with Dona nobis pacem – ‘grant us peace’.

The Bishop of Cork, Dr Paul Colton, with the officers of the Courtmacsherry and Barryroe District History Group.

Posted in Centenaries in Ireland, Centenary, Churchyard, Community Involvement, Contemporary Issues, Decade of Centenaries, History, Local History, People from the Diocese

St Fin Barre’s Cathedral Choristers complete Sponsored Walk in Cork

The choristers of St Fin Barre’s Cathedral Choir, Cork, together with their families embarked on an 8km walk around Mahon Point and Blackrock Village in Cork last Saturday, 6th October. The weather could not have been better and this drew some extra supporters who came out for a walk in the sun at the last moment. Almost 60 people met at Mahon Point Shopping Centre and headed towards Blackrock Castle on the riverside walkway with many people remarking that they had never walked on this route before. After passing the Castle the next stop was The Natural Foods Bakery in Blackrock Village where a drink was picked up and a well earned piece of cake. The break was limited though as the final destination was still someway down the old railway line back to Mahon Point. There were several tired faces in the choir stalls on the following Sunday morning after an invigorating afternoon of exercise.

St Fin Barre’s Cathedral Choristers, their families and friends on the sponsored walk.

Posted in Cathedral, Cathedral Choir, Children's Work, Church Music, Cork, Fund-Raising, Youth Work

Sinking of RMS Leinster on 10th October 1918 to be Commemorated by Bishop Paul Colton in Courtmacsherry, Co. Cork

10th October 2018 marks the centenary of the worst ever recorded maritime disaster in the Irish Sea.  The RMS Leinster was sunk on this day at around 10 a.m. by a German U-boat  – UB-123 – near the Kish Bank, just outside Dublin Bay. 569 of the 771 people on board lost their lives.  Among those who died were people from  Australia, Ireland, Britain, Canada, the United States and New Zealand. Among the Irish were two sisters – Henrietta Howell (born 1856) and Ida Howell (born 1858) – who were living at that time in a house provided by the Church of Ireland at Lislee in Courtmacsherry, County Cork.

Lislee Churchyard, Courtmacsherry

The family were well-travelled.  Their grandparents, also from Cork – the Howells and Wigmores  – were among the first settlers in Pickering, Ontario. Both families were involved in the lumber trade and prospered.  Their father, also from Cork, had travelled to both Canada and New Zealand.  By 1901, they were living with their widowed mother at Ivy Bank, Lislee, Courtmacsherry, County Cork.

Like far too many victims of the First World War Henrietta and Ida are remembered no where.

It would seem that the family were not well off financially and although they had no previous connection with the area, they were given the tenancy of the house in Ballycullinane as an act of solidarity with a family who had fallen on hard times and, of course, Mary Howell had been born into a Church of Ireland family in Castlelyons, County Cork over seventy years previously.

The sisters left Cork on Wednesday 9th and intended to stay the night in the Pier Hotel, Kingstown before crossing to Holyhead the following day on the mailboat, RMS Leinster.  The Leinster was only 7.4 km outside Dublin Bay, when she was hit by three torpedoes fired from German submarine UB 123 on 10 October 1918. The mailboat sank in a very short time and 569 of the 771 on board were drowned. This was the greatest single loss of life ever in the Irish Sea.

Henrietta’s body was recovered and buried in an unmarked grave in Mount Jerome Cemetery, Dublin. Ida’s body was never recovered.

On Saturday next, 13th October, at the invitation of the local historical society, the Bishop of Cork, the Right Reverend Dr Paul Colton, will travel to Courtmacsherry and, in Lislee, will unveil a memorial to Henrietta and Ida Howell who died in the sinking of the RMS Leinster.

Courtmacsherry is the last place that Henrietta and Ida Howell called home. It is fitting that they will be remembered there.


Posted in Bishop, Centenaries in Ireland, Centenary, Community Involvement, Decade of Centenaries, Dedication, Remembrance

Bicentenary of St Brendan’s Church, Bantry

The foundation stone of the Church of Ireland parish Church in Bantry, County Cork was laid two hundred years ago this month on 23rd October, 1818.  To mark the millennium in 2000, the Church was dedicated afresh as the Church of St Brendan the Navigator, Bantry.  A statue of Saint Brendan the Navigator stands on Wolfe Tone Square in Bantry outside the church.

Canon Paul Willoughby, Incumbent of Kilmocomogue Union of Parishes with the Bishop following the Bicentenary Festival Eucharist.

On Sunday 7th October, the Dedication Festival, the Bishop of Cork, the Right Reverend Dr Paul Colton, visited the parish, and presided and preached at the bicentenary festival Eucharist.   To mark the bicentenary a parishioner kindly restored a beautiful altar frontal which had been in use in the Church until 1952, when it was moved temporarily to Rooska Church.  Rooska Church having closed some decades ago, the restored altar frontal is in use once more in Bantry.

The altar frontal in the Church of St Brendan the Navigator, Bantry

Throughout the weekend, from 5th to 7th October there was also a Flower Festival to mark the beginning of a month of bicentenary celebrations.

Following the Service, with the Rector and the Bishop were (l-r) Lorna O’Donovan, Judith Payne, Mary Draper, and Mary Levis.

Posted in Bicentenary, Bishop, Church Services, Churches in Cork, Parish News

The Spanish Flu and the First World War Remembered in West Cork Church of Ireland Parish

On Sunday, 7th October, the centenaries of both the second wave of the  ‘Spanish’ Flu and the approach of the end of the First World War were remembered in a remote and fairly neglected graveyard on a hillside, at Maulinward (Meall an Bhaird), in the Parish of Kilmocomogue, near Durrus in West Cork.  The road is narrow with a strong stretch of grass up the middle of it.

Maulinward Burial Ground, near Durrus, County Cork.

It all started when the local rector, Canon Paul Willoughby, told the Bishop, Dr Paul Colton, the very moving and sad local story about Private Michael O’Neill.  Private O’Neill came up in conversation between the rector and the Bishop because he was the uncle of a mutual friend: local man Tommy Mullins.  In the distant days of the 1960s and 1970s, and childhood holidays spent in that parish, Tommy Mullins was a fisherman who taught the bishop how to fish and to row a boat where he was fishing in Ballylickey at the mouth of the Ouvane River.  Canon Willoughby, intends, later this month, to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War by walking the route taken home by Private O’Neill in 1918.

The path through Maulinward Burial Ground.

Tommy’s uncle, Private Michael O’Neill survived the First World War as a Private in the 5th Reserve Battalion of the Grenadier Guards.  Towards the end of October 1918 Michael headed home to his mother’s place at Ballycomane, Durrus.  That’s where he was born.  He alighted from the train at the Durrus Road Railway Halt (on the former Cork, Bandon and South Coast Railway’s main line between Cork and Bantry), and walked home to his mother.

Five days later he died of the ‘Spanish’ Flu.  He was 35 years old.

After the morning Eucharist marking the bicentenary of St Brendan’s Church, Bantry on SUnday 7th October, Canon Paul and Mrs Amanda Willoughby, were joined on a visit to Maulinward, by Bishop Paul and Mrs Susan Colton, where the Bishop laid a wreath and silence was observed.

Watched by Canon Paul Willoughby, the Bishop of Cork, Dr Paul Colton, laid a wreath at the grave of Private Michael O’Neill.


‘It’s just one grave of one person,’ said the Bishop, ‘ but there were millions of others here and around the world, both because of the war and because of the flu pandemic.’  He said:

Thanks to the research of Dr Ida Milne and her excellent book about ‘the Spanish flu’ in Ireland – ‘Stacking the Coffins’ – I learnt an immense amount about the human cost of the flu pandemic in 1918-19, in its three waves of human tragedy.  Until I read Ida’s book I did not know that most of the flu victims were fit, healthy people in their prime (aged 25-35), that so many in Ireland died (c.23,000) and that nearly a quarter of the population was affected (800,000); and with estimates of deaths worldwide ranging between 60 million and 100 million, I wasn’t as aware as I ought to have been of the scale of the disaster.

Today, I came here to lay a wreath.  Yes, it is at the grave of one man, but it is, I think, also symbolic of the remembering of all the victims of the Spanish Flu in 1918 and 1919, and of the First World War.  The numbers are great and almost beyond our comprehension but, at the end of the day, the suffering, repeated countless of times, is individual, personal, familial and communal.

Canon Paul Willoughby said:

This is the centenary of a very moving and tragic human story.   Scattered around this rural Irish parish there are 31 such Commonwealth War Graves.  As well as this one in Maulinward, there are 14 on Bere Island, 12 in Castletownbere, 1 in Rossmacowen (between Adrigole and Beara), 1 at Kealkill, and 2 at the Abbey Cemetery in Bantry.

To mark the centenary of the end of the First World War Canon Willoughby intends to visit these 31 graves and to plant a cross of remembrance on each.

The grave of Private Michael O’Neill who served in the First World War, made it home near the end of the war and died of the ‘Spanish’ flu.

Posted in Centenaries in Ireland, Centenary, Contemporary Issues, Decade of Centenaries, Memorial Service, People from Cork, Remembrance

Susan Green Installed as new Church of Ireland Dean of Cloyne, County Cork

On Friday evening, 5th October, in Saint Colman’s Cathedral, Cloyne, County Cork, the Cloyne Union of Parishes welcomed their new rector – Susan Green.  The Bishop, the Right Reverend Dr Paul Colton, who presided at the Service, instituted Susan to the incumbency of the Cloyne Union of Parishes, and appointed her as Dean of Cloyne.

The new Dean with the Bishop.

At the same Service, therefore, Susan was installed as Dean of Cloyne by the Archdeacon, the Venerable Adrian Wilkinson, on foot of the mandate of the Bishop.  Present to support the new Dean were members of her family including her husband, the Venerable Andrew Orr who is Archdeacon of Ossory and Leighlin, and their daughter Rachel, as well as Susan’s mother and other members of the family circle. Bishop Colton said that he hoped that the entire family  – Susan, Andrew, Rachel, Patrick and Ciara – would feel welcome in their new surroundings in East Cork.

The Very Reverend Susan Green (centre) with her husband, Archdeacon Andrew Orr, and their daughter, Rachel.

Among those present were Cllr Michael Hegarty representing the Mayor of County Cork, Minister of State David Stanton, T.D., Kevin O’Keeffe, T.D., and the principals of the two schools in the parish: Dr Edward Gash (Principal of Midleton College) and Ms Elma Huggard (Principal of St John the Baptist National School, Midleton).  Children and young people from both schools took part in the Service.   Parishioners, clergy and readers from Cork, Cloyne and Ross were joined by the new Dean’s former colleagues in Kilkenny College and from the Diocese of Cashel, Ferns and Ossory. Representatives were in attendance from the community including An Garda Síochána, and Midleton Rugby Club.  Ecuemnical guests from sister churches included:  the Reverend Richard Cronin (Presbyterian Church in Ireland), Canon Jim Killeen (Parish Priest of Midleton), Father Pat Linehan (Parish Priest of Cloyne) and Father Patrick McCarthy (Saleen).

Following the institution and installation were (l-r) Archdeacon Adrian Wilkinson, the new Dean, the Bishop, and Mr John Jermyn, Diocesan Registrar.

The Very Reverend Susan Green is now the first woman to serve as Dean of a Cathedral in Cork, Cloyne and Ross.  Preaching at the Service, the Reverend Katharine Poulton, Rector of Julianstown, who herself served as Dean of Ossory for a time, referred to the fact that Susan is now one of only two women who are Deans of Cathedrals in Ireland, the other being the Very Reverend Maria Jansson, Dean of Waterford, who was also present.  Other Deans present were the Dean of Cork, the Very Reverend Nigel Dunne, and the Dean of Lismore, the Very Reverend Paul Draper.

The preacher, the Reverend Katharine Poulton, enjoys a light-hearted moment after the Service.

The Quire and Nave of the Cathedral were full for the Service at which the Clerks Choral, under the direction of Colin Nicholls, sang, and the organist was Ian Sexton.  At the conclusion of the Service, the Bishop thanked the parish for all their hard work and faithfulness. Rowena Walsh welcomed the new Dean on behalf of the parishioners, and the new Dean addressed the parish for the first time.  Afterwards everyone was entertained in the nave to supper provided by the parishioners of the Cloyne Union of Parishes.  In addition to the Cathedral Church of Saint Colman, Cloyne, the Union of Parishes encompasses Midleton, Corkbeg and East Ferry.

Pictured after the Service were (l-r) Archdeacon Adrian Wilkinson, the Reverend Sarah Marry (Bishop’s Chaplain), the Reverend Katharine Poulton (Preacher), the Very Reverend Susan Green, the Bishop, the Reverend David Bowles (Deacon at the Service), and the Reverend Elaine Murray (Bishop’s Chaplain).

Posted in Appointments, Cathedral, Church of Ireland, Church Services, Clergy, Cloyne, Diocese, East Cork, Installations

Service of Blessing of Animals in St Mary’s Church, Carrigaline

The annual Blessing of Animals Service was held in St Mary’s Church, Carrigaline recently. Although again mainly dogs turned up in need of a blessing, there were a couple of very brave cats and a bemused looking fish!

At the annual blessing of animals in St Mary’s Church, Carrigaline

At the annual blessing of animals in St Mary’s Church, Carrigaline

At the annual blessing of animals in St Mary’s Church, Carrigaline

At the annual blessing of animals in St Mary’s Church, Carrigaline

Posted in Church Services, Community Involvement, Eco Congregation, Parish News