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Hells bells! We won't stand for tourist ringers

CHRISTCHURCH Cathedral is having a ding-dong battle with its neighbours over tourists ringing bells.

The cathedral holds a world record number of bells for full-circle ringing and its musical chimes are a familiar and much-loved sound in the capital -- but not by everybody.

The bells are rung on Friday for practice and twice on Sunday after services, a tradition which goes back centuries.

However, since the recession the cathedral has promoted bell-ringing to tourists to raise much-needed funds. For a small fee, visitors can ring the bells for up to ten minutes.

But the dissonant sounds caused by these inexperienced ringers has had residents living within earshot crying "Hells bells!"

Kevin Lawlor, who lives just a few minutes walk from the cathedral, said: "The bell-ringing by tourists is not very good, to put it politely. On Saturday, they ring from 11am until maybe 5pm or 6pm but sometimes as late as 10pm or 12pm. I enjoy the professional bell-ringers, but not these tourists.

"It's very distracting at home or even when I'm in my local, the Edwards Arms; when the door is open the peal of the bells is crazy. I've said to a friend of mine who works in the Cathedral 'if I could get a scud missile and launch it at those bells, I would'."

However the cathedral thinks it may have found a solution that will ring everyone's bell.

Spokesperson Nuala Kavanagh said: "The last thing we want to do is annoy our neighbours. So we've commissioned leather experts to create leather dampers for the bells.

"The dampers are been made by a cobbler from Palmerstown and will be put on while tourists are ringing them. We tested one and it significantly reduced the noise.

"One thing residents who complained to us all said was that they enjoyed the proper ringing of the bells, it's just the more dissonant ringing from tourists that bothers them."

Cllr Gerry Ashe, who received several complaints from residents, said: "Apparently they're very hard to live with, because when tourists ring them they're not in tune.

"I think the normal bells just blend into the background after a while, but this doesn't."

"Christchurch Cathedral are generally very good neighbours and I don't think they realised how much it was affecting people.

"Of course they need to raise funds but at the same time people have to live there."