THE head bellringer at Dublin's Christ Church Cathedral fears the peal of church bells from its ancient belfry could be silenced following noise complaints from some local residents.
Ringing master Leslie Taylor (62), who has been ringing the bells there since he was a boy, said he feared that a compromise 'noise' agreement between Dublin City Council and local residents could lead to the eventual silencing of the bells for the first time since 1400.
The bells ring out every Sunday, as well as on Christmas Day and New Year's Day.
They will continue to be rung for now by the dedicated team of 35 volunteers.
But Mr Taylor fears that the installation of a sound dampener on five of the bells – starting today – is the beginning of the end.
While there have been no complaints over the pealing of bells each Sunday, some local residents have complained to the council about the church's practice of allowing tourists and other visitors to 'chime' five of the smaller bells during daily visits to the bell tower.
The tinkling of such bells, which Mr Taylor likens to windchimes, has drawn a small number of complaints from some residents, he told the Irish Independent.
"They sound lovely," he said. "The effect is musical and beautiful, like wind chimes."
Despite this, the cathedral agreed to fit leather sound-proofing on five of the 19 bells – some of which date back to 1738 – as part of a temporary solution until the council can come up with "a mutually acceptable resolution".
And while Mr Taylor will comply with the compromise agreement, he said it's a shame, adding: "The bells are emblematic of Dublin. We're not there to annoy people, we're there to make people happy."