For the first time in a number of years, the Taney Bell-ringers were able to get a ringing band together on New Year’s Eve (not always possible with the pressures of modern society) to ring out 2016 and see in 2017 with a cacophony of tuneful noise. After chiming the Tenor (heaviest) bell twelve times at the stroke of Midnight on December 31st, the full peal of eight bells then rang out over Dundrum for 15 minutes to welcome in 2017.
Ringers that night included (l to r) Darrell Brislane (Ringing Master), Eugene Carr, Brendan Donlon, Joe Kealy, Brian McCann, Cyril Galbraith, and Roy Huber. Michael Ryan also rang but is not shown as somebody had to take the photograph (we are not members of the selfie generation).
The occasion also allowed us to celebrate Cyril’s birthday, hence the glasses of apple juice! At the recent Taney Bell-ringers AGM, the annual Ringer of the Year award was presented to Joe Kealy. In 2016, Joe attended almost every practice, Sundays and special occasion rings. Joe is a key member of our competition team that took part in the Lindoff Cup (Easter District competition) and Murphy Cup (all Ireland competition).
In addition, Joe ensures that the Taney bells and ropes are in tip top condition as he holds the important role to Steeplekeeper of the Taney bell tower. Congrats Joe!
The Joycean Connection
The sound of the peal of the bells of St. George's Church has been a familiar one to many Dubliners with the bells of St. George's being immortalised in the writings of James Joyce, author of 'Ulysses'.
The Bells were the gift of the distinguished Dublin architect, Francis Johnston (1760 - 1829) who designed St George's Church in Hardwicke Street in 1802.
Johnston and his wife Anne resided in Eccles Street, which lay within the parish of St. George and were members of the church. To encourage campanology within the parish he and his wife presented ringing bells to St George's Church in 1828.
St George's Church Closed
At the time when the bells were presented in 1828, St George's was numerically the largest parish in the Diocese of Dublin, as Taney parish is today. With the migration of parishioners from the inner city to the suburbs, St George's closed in April 1990 after 176 years of continuous worship. When the church building was sold by the Representative Church Body, the famous bells were not included in the sale. They were carefully dismantled and removed to safe storage. Mr Peter Hayward of Hayward Mills, Bells Consultants, Nottingham, England was contracted to supervise the work.
Taney - A New Home for the Bells
Among those who helped with the dismantling was Canon Desmond Sinnamon, Rector of Taney, who had been approached by bells enthusiasts about the possibility of using the tower of Christ Church, Taney as a new home for the old bells. Taney's youthful congregation had the promise of attracting ringers so ensuring the continuing tradition of bell ringing.
The fact that Taney Parish had a major commitment to its Parish Centre development during the 1990's meant the immediate prospect of re-hanging St George's Bells was curtailed. Thanks to the provision of long-term storage space by a parishioner of Taney, George Cooke, the bells were preserved in safety.
There was a firm belief that the fundraising challenge to install the Bells could be overcome. Vivien Hood, a member of the Select Vestry, was instrumental in the formation of a committee to explore the project in 1997 and to assess the issues involved, such as planning approval and the raising of the substantial sum that the job would entail - in the region of £60,000.
A Millennium Opportunity
The Rector and Committee asked Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council for grant aid and applied for various Millennium, heritage and Better Ireland awards to raise the necessary funds. The Millennium year was seen as the opportunity to make the dream become a reality.
A fund raising scheme was launched by the Bells Committee at the Parish Centre in May 1999. Entitled 'A Millennium Opportunity', the scheme targeted the corporate sector and local businesses urging them to become involved in a unique Millennium restoration project by contributing either towards the overall cost or in sponsoring individual bells. The aim was to have the bells installed in Taney Church Tower in time to ring in the third Millennium of faith as a symbol of thanksgiving for our Christian Heritage and dedication to another era of faith.
There was a magnificent public response to the launch. A flood of letters and subscriptions were received from people at home and abroad who heard about the project. The Select Vestry gave the go- ahead to the Bells Committee to proceed and in September 1999 the Taney Change-Ringers Association was founded under the guidance of Cyril Galbraith, the first ringing master, with the support of ringers from St George's, St Patrick's Cathedral, St Audoen's and John's Lane.
It was a race against time to get the tower ready, to hoist and install the eight bells and to construct a new ringing gallery in time to ring in the New Millennium. It was an enormous job. The workmen described the stonework in the tower as the hardest they had ever encountered. Cyril Galbraith, Alan Hamilton and their team literally worked day and night to ensure that the Bells would be ready in time for the Millennium moment.
The Millennium Moment
Few people present on the night of the 31st December 1999 will ever forget this most moving occasion as over a thousand people thronged in the Parish Centre and Church grounds to see in AD 2000. Cyril Galbraith, Ringing Master of Taney Change Ringers Society accepted a presentation on behalf of Taney and St George's Change Ringers who made their way to ring in the New Year to the huge cheers of the people. A short service to mark the millennium moment was conducted by the Rector, Canon Desmond Sinnamon, the Curate, Rev Bernadette Daly and the Parish Priest of Dundrum, Fr Donal O'Doherty.
Dedication of the Bells
On Sunday 26th November 2000, the Archbishop of Dublin presided and preached at a memorable service of dedication of St George's Bells in Christ Church, Taney. The bell ringing chamber, the sound proofing, the refurbishment of the porch and the new electrics in the Church were all ready and the occasion was further enhanced by the presence of bell ringers from all over the island, North and South, who pealed the bells as they called us to worship.
It is a call that will ring throughout this third millennium of faith.