Sometimes people have the idea that church activity winds down in July, and more so in August. This has never been the case in many dioceses and especially in places such as Cork, Cloyne and Ross with its many holiday destinations and festivals.
For example, the inaugural West Cork History Festival, of which one of the patrons is the Right Rev. Dr Paul Colton, Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, will take place from 28-30 July, at Rosebank just outside Skibbereen. The Festival, which is being organised by Simon Kingston, will feature talks, debates, and film screenings on a host of topics and periods. It is aimed at the interested layperson and will offer a chance to listen to some of Ireland’s leading historians in an informal environment. The subjects will range from the medieval to the modern and will be local, national, and international in nature.
The opening speaker will be Roy Foster, authorised biographer of Yeats and the preeminent Irish historian of his generation. He will be followed by a mix of academics, diplomats, journalists and others, discussing everything from the Knights Templar to Ireland and the First World War. Some items which illustrate the diversity of the programme are HE Dan Mulhall, soon to begin his new role as Irish Ambassador in Washington DC, on AE and Francis Ledwidge; Dr Connie Kelleher, of the State Underwater Archaeology Unit, speaking about piracy off the West Coast; and Lar Joye, of the National Museum, talking on the history of duelling in Ireland. Of particular interest will be David Fitzpatrick discussing aspects of the Protestant experience of the revolutionary period in Cork. There will be a dinner on the Saturday night with food by Carmel Somers and her team from Good Things Café, for those who want to continue the conversation with the speakers informally. The closing ‘act’ will be Michael Dobbs writer of House of Cards on the inspiration behind the drama.All the details and booking facilities are on the website.
A number of parishes are holding holiday clubs for children this summer – Carrigaline Union and Templebreedy Group held a club called ‘Champions!’ which took place in July in the Canon McCrea Hall, St Mary’s School, Carrigaline. Ross Union also ran a holiday club in July entitled Space Hoppers and in Clonakilty Champions Holiday Club took place in the Methodist Church. In Blarney a Holiday Club entitled Guardians of Ancora – Treasure Seekers is being run during the last week of July.
St Brendan’s Church, Crookhaven celebrates 300 years this summer. A series of Compline Services are being held each Sunday evening in July and August at 8.30pm. There is a different guest preacher for each service including Bishop Paul Colton on 30th July, Archbishop Richard Clarke on 6th August and Rabbi Dame Julia Neuberger on 20th August. On Tuesday 1st August at 8.30pm there is a concert of traditional Irish music performed by Mooncoin and on Thursday 3rd August at 8.30pm there will be a talk on the local history of Crookhaven. As part of the celebrations a re-union of the Cork Diocesan Youth Body was held at the Altar Rectory with a barbecue followed by a service in the church. This group used to clean up the church in the late 70s and early 80s.
The usual round of coastal regattas also provides contact between Church and community. For example, the South Cork Sailing Club, which was founded in 1905, holds its annual events during the first fortnight each August and gathers visitors from around the world and locals from Castletownshend to sail in Castlehaven. Their course gives them their sub-heading: ‘Harbour to Flea to Colonel’s to Castlehaven.’ The Commodore is Robert Salter-Townshend, whose wife Freda is the organist. Sea Sunday is observed locally on 6th August to coincide with this festival of sailing with two ecumenical Services: in St Barrahane’s Church, Castletownshend and in the Castlehaven Roman Catholic Church.
Also in Castletownshend, the 37th annual St Barrahane’s Music Festival takes places with a programme of renowned musicians in July and August. Each concert fills the church and attracts people from far and near to the parish and small coastal village. An addition to the programme this year is a Saturday concert this weekend, 29th July, by the Choir of St Mary’s Church, Wimbledon. The programme which started on 20th July with Trio Avalon, followed by Musici Ireland (27t July) continues with The Irish Guitar Quartet (3rd August), Ensemble Dagda (5th August), Jessie Kennedy and Guests (10th August) and The Stavros Youth Choir from Russian (19th August).
Another church celebrating a significant anniversary this year is East Ferry in Cloyne Union. The church is celebrating 150 years with a Festival of Flowers from 25th to 27th August. The East Cork Flower Club, along with the parishioners have taken on the decoration of the church. Mary Leland is the guest speaker at the opening evening from 7.30 – 9.00pm and the church is open on Saturday 26th from 11am – 7.00pm and on Sunday 27th from 11am. The celebrations will end that day with a Service of Thanksgiving at 4.00pm. Saint Matthias’ Church, Ballydehob Union, is also hosting a Flower Festival on 19th and 20th August in celebration of the major repair work recently completed in the church. The theme of the Festival is ‘Worship the Lord in the Beauty of Holiness’. The Festival is being run alongside the Ballydehob Summer Festival.
Earlier in the summer there were already parish fetes in Ross Union and Kilmoe Union. The annual Fete in Durrus takes place on 9th August. The event starts at noon in the Rectory, Durrus. The usual stalls will be in place along with an enlarged Children’s Fun and Games area. Lunch, Afternoon Tea and a barbecue run all day. The Mallow Union Parish Fete will take place in the grounds of St James’ Church, Mallow on 19th August.
During July Christ Church Glandore held an Evening of Traditional Music with Jim Murray, Jim O’Leary and Ciaran O’Connell and hosted an Exhibition of Appliqué Pictures by Liberty Stitch Textile Art Group. On 18th August there will be a History Lecture at 8pm.