West Cork Church chosen by Bishop Paul Colton for his Christmas Message to Schools, Young People and the Young at Heart

Bishop Paul Colton chose the West Cork village of Castletownshend as the setting for his 2021 Christmas Message to schools, young people and the young at heart. On a dismal December day, assisted by Mrs Susan Colton on the camera, he filmed outdoors on the pier before climbing the 52 steps (one for each Sunday of the year) to the Parish Church of Saint Barrahane. Indoors the Bishop spoke about the east window in the Church: the Nativity of the Lord – the Christmas story as told in stained glass by the famous Irish stained glass artist Harry Clarke.

Bishop Colton explained the background

It’s my experience (and it was my own too) that many students and young people love art and art classes. The Christmas story is so wonderfully told in so much art, and indeed, music too.

This was the second year I recorded and put together a video like this. Visits to schools and youth groups haven’t been possible during the pandemic, so first last year and, now again this year, I wanted to record a message for schools and young people. Hopefully there is something of interest also to everyone who has a look at it.

Even a short video like this takes many days to put together so I do want to thank everyone who advised me, made materials, especially photographs, available to me, and who supported this seasonal effort in every way.

The Nativity of the Lord by Harry Clarke © reproduced by kind permission of the Representative Church Body. Photograph David Lawrence


Bishop Colton expresses his thanks to the staff at the RCB Library (stained glass images with photographs taken by David Lawrence), Robbie Carroll (organist), Dennis Horgan (photographer – aerial photography), Anne Salter-Townshend (photographer – sunset photographs), Susan Colton (camera), Dr David Caron (Editor of ‘Gazetteer of Irish Stained Glass’) and, of course, the Reverend John Ardis (rector of Abbeystrewry Union of Parishes), the churchwardens and parishioners of Saint Barrahane’s Church, Castletownshend, County Cork.

All the images in the video are subject to copyright as follows:

  • East Window and window of Saint Luke © Representative Church Body of the Church of Ireland, Photograph David Lawrence
  • Window of Saint Louis and Saint Martin of Tours © Paul Colton
  • Photographs of the Church of Saint Barrahane © Paul Colton
  • Aerial photographs of Castlehaven © Dennis Horgan
  • Evening and sunset photographs © Anne Salter-Townshend
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