800th Anniversary Celebrations at Saint Mary’s Collegiate Church, Youghal

The 802th Anniversary Celebrations of the Collegiate Church of Saint Mary the Virgin in Youghal culminated in a celebratory service on Sunday, 23rd October 2022. The Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, and Warden of the College, the Right Rev. Dr Paul Colton presided over the service, which was led by the Priest-in-Charge, the Rev. Canon Andrew Orr. The Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, the Most Rev. John McDowell preached at the service. 

Archbishop John McDowell preached on the historic importance of church buildings and their liturgical importance as a place that presents a “foretaste of heaven”, and allows people to see Jesus. Subsequently, he pointed out how church buildings and Christian Communities preserve the Providence of God, in the case of Saint Mary’s Collegiate Church for over 800 years.

The Archbishop John McDowell preaching at the 800th anniversary service.

The readings, the Thanksgiving for 800 Years of Worship in Saint Mary’s Collegiate Church, and the Prayers of the People were led by representatives from the parish and the local community. The music was provided by the Organist Kevin O’Connell, The Clerks Choral under Colin Nicholls, Youghal Choral Society under Patricia Whyte and Corde Dolce under Jennifer O’Keeffe Smith.

Canon Andrew Orr, Priest-in-charge of Saint Mary’s Collegiate Church, and the choirs who sang at the service. Photo: Eoin Murphy @artfotoglobal
Corde Dolce playing Henry Purcell’s ‘Rondeau’ under Jennifer O’Keeffe Smith.

Several Diocesan Primary Schools were represented at the service, including the Parish Primary School South Abbey NS, Saint John the Baptist NS Midleton, The Model School Dunmanway, Templebreedy NS Crosshaven, Saint Multose NS Kinsale, Saint Michael’s NS Blackrock, Saint Fin Barre’s NS Cork, and Saint Luke’s NS Montenotte. Representatives from Midleton College and Gaelscoil Chorain also attended the service. Many of the Diocesan clergy were also present, including the Dean of Cloyne the Very Rev. Susan Green, and the Dean of Cork the Very Rev. Nigel Dunne.

Photo: Eoin Murphy @artfotoglobal

The congregation included people from all over the Diocese and Ireland. Special guests included the Deputy Mayor of Cork County Council, Cllr Deirdre O’Brien, David Stanton TD, Cllr Mary Lineman Foley and Cllr Susan McCarthy, as well as Helen Mulcahy (Youghal Area) and Niall Healy (Director of Services) from Cork County Council. Ecumenical guests included Canon Bill Bermingham PP (representing Bishop William Crean), Fr Gerard Cremin CC and the Rev. Andrew Robinson (Youghal Methodist Church). Representatives from the Youghal Celebrates History Group were also present.

Cllr. Deirdre O’Brien, Deputy Mayor of County Cork, arriving at the service. Photo: Eoin Murphy @artfotoglobal

After the service the Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, the Right Rev. Dr Paul Colton and the Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Rev. John McDowell planted a tree to commemorate the 800th Anniversary of Saint Mary’s Collegiate Church.

After the service, Canon Andrew Orr said:

We were so delighted with the service. The church was magnificently decorated, the music was superb and the large congregation came from across Ireland and beyond. Having the Archbishop with us and hearing his address made it a memorable day for the parish and the town. Thank you to everyone who played their part.

Bishop Paul Colton commented:

The celebrations of the 800th anniversary – well, 802nd actually due to a pandemic postponement – were magnificent in truly magnificent surroundings. It was a joy to welcome the Archbishop of Armagh to Cork, Cloyne and Ross for this prestigious occasion, and also to see the church full to the brim with worshippers from far and near.  Many congratulations are due to Canon Andrew Orr and the parishioners for all their work to make this such a memorable Service.  As I’ve commended the idea of the Anglican Communion Forest to the Diocese, I was delighted also, together with the Archbishop, to plant a tree afterwards in the ancient churchyard.

The Archbishop of Armagh John McDowell said:

I want to thank Canon Orr for his kind invitation to preach here in this beautiful and truly remarkable church on this very special occasion. There are very few parishes in Ireland that can celebrate 800 years in one building. I also want to thank the Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross and the Dean of Cloyne for their generous hospitality. It is really only through occasions like this that the second part of my ecclesiastical title as Primate of All Ireland can have any real meaning, which lies in the building of relationships through personal encounter and worship. I am very grateful to all of you for your hospitality.

The Dean of Cloyne, the Very Rev. Susan Green, the Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, the Right Rev. Dr Paul Colton, the Archbishop of Armagh, John McDowell, and the Priest-in-charge of Saint Mary’s Collegiate Church, the Rev. Canon Andrew Orr. Photo: Eoin Murphy @artfotoglobal
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