Thursday 25 September 2014

Mass for the Year of the Holy Name in the Franciscan Church Merchants Quay Dublin

From Dublin: The City Within the Grand and Royal Canals and the Circular Road by Christine Casey, p. 344 ff:

Merchant's Quay 

1836 by James Bolger. A large and much-rebuilt Franciscan church on a sequestered site behind the riverfront buildings of Merchants' Quay. A Franciscan friary of 1615 on Cook Street served as the first post-Reformation seminary in Ireland. Its chapel was destroyed in 1629, and the friars did not return until 1757 when a house was purchased on Merchants' Quay. Built on the site of an c18 chapel, the curious name derives from an adjacent tavern. In time much of the quayside was acquired and is now occupied by a large Friary of 1900 by W.G. Doolin; Italianate, of granite with three storeys over a blind rusticated arcade. The quayside entrance to the church, which lies on an axis with the N transept, is perhaps Patrick Byrne's design of 1852, though the execution has a later ring to it. It consists of a deep narthex and upper rooms. The three-bay arcaded and pilastered facade is pedimented, with two squashed mezzanine storeys, like a cross between a c17 town palace and a provincial church. Further w, Skipper's Alley leads to the w front of the nave, a thin two-tiered composition adden in 1926 by J.J. O'Hare, Doric below and Composite above with a central pediment, portal and window. On the 1. at the nw angle is a spare granite bell-tower of c. 1930, battered, with angle projections, and crowned by a pedimented temple with columns in antis; probably by J.J. Robinson & R.C. Keefe, who extensively remodelled the church in the 1930s. - SCULPTURE. Above the quayside entrance, St. Francis by Seamus Murphy, and at the corner of Merchants' Quay and Winetavern Street, a bronze figure of the Virgin by Gabriel Hayes, 1955. Like St. Andrew's Westland Row, the plan originally consisted of unaisled nave and transept. here the nave was dwarfed by a vast transept, entered from Cook Street, s, and later also from Merchants' Quay, n. the nave had no direct access until the c20. The Civil Engineer and Architect's Journal of 1844 described it as 'a spacious building but in nothing remarkable for either elegance or judicious arrangement'. After almost two centuries of enlargement and alteration, this still rings true. The church is now arcaded and aisled, with a dome over the crossing, a broad apsidal chancel and a galleried ambulatory. Giant Corinthian polasters on tall pedestals support a continuous entablature and an elliptical vault with semicircular clerestory windows. Uninspired, it looks like bread-and-butter late c19 work by W.H. Byrne & Son. The apse was added in 1924-7 probably by J.J. O'Hare, the aisles in 1930-3, a mortuary chapel at the w end from 1930-9 by Robinson & Keefe and the St. Anthony chapel off the s aisle in 1936-9 by J.V. Downes & B.T. Meehan. Too many cooks spoiled the broth. The most attractive features of the 1930s remodelling are the aisle confessionals, sub-Art Deco with Ionic pilasters and glazed central doors with copper glazing bars and dark irregular glass. - REREDOS, fine white marble figure of the Virgin by John Valentine Hogan. - NARTHEX, Plaque of the Virgin flanked by Ss. Christopher and Joseph, mid-c20 by Eileen Broe. - PAINTINGS. St. Anthony Chapel. Miracles of St. Anthony, six charming Quattrocento-inspired paintings begun in 1938 by Muriel Brandt, who had studied mural painting with Stanley Spencer at the Royal College of Art in London. - Mortuary Chapel. Two paintings, Death of St. Francis (n) and Ascension of Souls from Purgatory, also by Brandt. - STAINED GLASS - Transepts, Nativity (n) and Annunciation, pictorial. Possibly the windows supplied in 1889 by William Martin & Son.

Sunday 14 September 2014

'The Exaltation of Dear Christ's Cross'

September 14 is the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, which the 12th-century calendarist, Marianus O'Gorman, describes as 'the Exaltation of dear Christ's Cross, the great, pure, diademed standard'. Father John Ryan, in his classic work on Irish monasticism, has written of the use of the sign of the cross by the Irish monastic saints:

To invoke the divine aid against these evil powers the sign of the cross was in constant use. St. Columban, during his meditations in the woods near Luxeuil put that holy sign on his forehead frequently as a form of armour. His monks did the same whenever they left the monastery. Columban's successor at Luxeuil, the abbot Athala, had a cross erected outside his cell, so that when going out or returning he could lay his hand upon it before putting the sign of salvation upon his brow. A torch when lighted by a junior monk had to be handed to a senior to be thus blessed, and spoons when used at table had to be treated similarly by the brethern. In Iona the same custom prevailed; for it is recorded that St Columcille was displeased when the holy sign was not placed on a milk vessel (Adamnan ii, 16). The 'signum salutare' might be placed on tools and used for various pious purposes. When his uncle Ernan died suddenly on the way from the harbour to the monastery, a cross was raised on the spot where life failed him and another on the spot where Columcille stood awaiting his approach. Another cross, fixed securely in a large millstone, was erected in the place where the old white horse wept for the saint's approaching end just before his death. Caesarius of Arles shows that the practice of signing oneself with the sign of the cross was very common in Gaul. St. Patrick made the sign of the cross upon himself a hundred times during the day and night, and never passed a cross upon the wayside without alighting from his chariot and spending a while beside it in prayer. St. Jerome said it could not be made too frequently. The hermits in the Egyptian desert were wont to make the holy sign over their food and drink, before they took their repast, and one of them is credited with the statement that "where the cross passes the evil in anything is powerless."

Rev. John Ryan, S.J., Irish Monasticism - Origins and Early Development (2nd edn. 1972, reprinted Irish Academic Press, 1986), 234-235.

Note: This post has also been published at my own blog Omnium Sanctorum Hiberniae which is dedicated to the saints of Ireland. 

Sunday 7 September 2014

Back on the Rails Part V - Back Again

Gentle reader, I have undertaken several journeys of moment in the past few years: to the Bar, to the Altar, down the pleasant waters of the River Lee and along the Railways of Cork.  The last proved just too ambitious for me in the midst of the hurly-burly of the first two.  However, by some popular demand, I'm back on the rails again at last and looking forward (dare I even mention it?) to exploring the passage of the River Blackwater at some not too distant date.

Let me remind you, gentle reader, of my fundamental theory.  As I have said before, it is my own but, as with so many of the best ideas, not mine alone or even first.  It is found throughout the writings of Hilaire Belloc.  There is something about a river that delineates a landscape and forms the people and their history.  Follow the river and you will find the people and their history and what formed them both.

In his The Historic Thames Belloc says "Upon all these accounts a river, during the natural centuries which precede and follow the epochs of high civilisation, is as much more important than the road or the path as, let us say, a railway to-day is more important than a turnpike." He also addresses the significance of rivers to human civilization in The Path to Rome and Warfare in England, particularly the first chapter on strategic topography.

Let us return to the Railways.  At the outset of this series, I suggested that Railways, by respecting the topography and maintaining, albeit with increasing alacrity and greater mobility, traditional societies,  reflected and supported the traditional life of old Cork in a way that Motorways and National Road Networks just don't.

In the second part of this series, I looked at the nexus of the network - a greater network that you find today even in Dublin - the beautiful City of Cork.  In the third part, I moved out of the City to the South West and in the fourth part I passed Innishannon along the Bandon line.  You can see the stately pace of history in this Railway journey.  The doors close, the whistle sounds, the green flag waves and we're off again...