Friday 24 May 2019

Insight into Dunany history given at church

THE Church of Ireland congregation in Dunany were given an insight into the fascinating history of their local church recently thanks to research by Rev. David Workman. And some may have been surprised to learn that there has been a church in the area for nearly 700 years!

The earliest evidence of when a church was in use in Dunany are that a William de Whyte was vicar in 1318. The church was recorded as ruinous in 1622, but another church was built or rebuilt near Dunany House around 200 years ago, but this fell into disuse and only the walls remain. Within these walls, a vestry met on July 14, 1807, and resolved that a new church should be built on Windmill Hill.

The new, existing church was built in 1813, with Wallop Brabazon and Andrew eaton appointed churchwardens. In 1872, Sir Alan E. Bellingham spent over £2,000 in securing land and endowing the parish. Mr. Edward Roe purchased the Glebe House. The church tower was left unfinished and only completed in 1889 by the Rev. William Claypon Bellingham. Stones for the completion of the tower were taken from Clonmore Church. The tower is also used as a reference point for the Ordnance Survey.

The church organ was presented by the parishioners and friends of the Rev. W.J. Askins, for 25 years the rector of the parish as a memorial to his life and work. Originally, the wind for the organ was hand pumped and the last man to do this regularly was Mr. Leslie Oliver. In 1997, an electrical pump was installed. Before that, it was found that some notes were off-key and examination discovered that mice had actually eaten into some of the metal parts of the wind pipes!

There is a tablet to memory of Ian HB England, killed in action in 1940. Within a niche in the wall rests a casket containing the ashes of Susan Bellingham. there are a number of plaques and inscriptions dedicated to members of the Bellingham family, and a central marble tomb commemorates the last resting place of Alan Edward Bellingham and his wife elizabeth who died in the 1880s. Although it was once unkindly said ‘here lies Alan Bellingham in everyone’s way in the church as it was when he lived’, he is remembered as a great benefactor to the church.

In the 1930s, a dog named Sweep used to sleep in the vestry throughout the service, but a preacher said that if he ever preached longer than 10 minutes, the dog would come out and stay in the aisle glaring at him until the sermon was over. The font in the Baptistry came from Charlestown Church, when its contents were being sold off. The old font in Dunany had disintegrated.

At a wedding in the church, a good but formidable lady came in and sat down in the second pew from the front, which was reserved for the groom’s family. An usher from Scotland, a brigadier, was eventually persuaded to ask her to move to another pew, but by then, the church was filling up, so she got a seat in the Baptistry. At the reception afterwards, she was heard to remark - ‘I had a good seat where I would see everything, but I was removed by a big man who put me in a loose box’.