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Two hundred years of faith and community were celebrated in Christ Church, Taney on Sunday 24th June 2018. The church was packed for the bicentenary service which was celebrated by the Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Revd Dr Michael Jackson, while the Bishop of Cashel, Ferns and Ossory, the Rt Revd Michael Burrows, a son of the parish, was the preacher. The congregation, which included public representatives, many former Curates and members of the Armenian community who also use the church for worship, was welcomed by the Rector, Canon Robert Warren. He was celebrating a significant milestone himself - the 40th anniversary of his ordination. During the service, pupils of first class in Taney National School gave a rousing rendition of ‘Shine Jesus Shine’.

Afterwards in the parish centre, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross TD launched an updated parish history by Carol Robinson Tweed. In his sermon Bishop Burrows recalled the 150th anniversary of the church. His father, Canon Walter Burrows, was Rector in June 1968 and the young Bishop won the fancy dress competition for which he had dressed up as the church and wore a hat in the shape of the spire. Bishop Burrows said it was easy to get despondent now, with rising secularism and falling numbers, and think that the generations that have gone before had it easier. But he warned against being beguiled by the past. He brought the congregation back to June of 1818 when Christ Church, Taney, was consecrated. This was a dreary time in Dublin when the consequences of the 1798 Rebellion and the Act of Union were being felt. Taney was a rural community and people lived on small holdings. The population of Ireland was larger than it has ever been since but it was doomed to be the victim of a natural catastrophe when the Famine struck some years later.

In 1868 as the parishioners of Christ Church, Taney, prepared to celebrate the church’s 50th anniversary the Bishop said there was more political uncertainty with the Fenian Rebellion having takenplace the previous year and political reform on Gladstone’s agenda. He was to disestablish the Church of Ireland which was the Church of the minority but which was the Church of the State. Following disestablishment, most people thought the Church of Ireland was doomed but wonderfully it was not, Bishop Burrows said.

1918 was an awful time in Ireland, the Bishop stated with World War I coming to an end and a generation of young men lost and young women weeping for their loss. This was followed by the Great European flu epidemic which killed more people than the war. These were the years that were leading up to Independence, a time that was uncomfortable for many members of the Church of Ireland.

Moving to the Swinging Sixties and Bishop Burrows said 1968 was a lovely time on the face of it but it was also the year of Humanae Vitae. The storm clouds were gathering in Northern Ireland which would lead to 30 years of conflict. “In 2018, not withstanding Brexit, we live in happier times. We have a delightful context in which to worship… So how will those who gather in 2068 remember us?” he asked. “For a parish church to reach 200 years is a moment of coming of age. As we come of age we must ask how the founders of this place would view us… On this, the Feast Day of the Birth of St John the Baptist, we must ask: Have we retained that edginess, that vision of what is possible, the authentic idiom of John the Baptist that can make our faith magnetic? May those of you who come back in 2068 look back on this day and think: It wasn’t bad in 2018.”

As the service drew to a close, Archbishop Jackson paid tribute to Canon Warren for his energy, vitality, humanity and spirituality and thanked everyone for the work they had put into bringing the service together.

Launching ‘Taney – Progress of a Parish’, Minister Ross described the book as a ‘”microcosm of what has been happening in the Church of Ireland over the last 200 years”. He said it was very readable and contained a fascinating history and narrative of Taney and its people, past and present. The book also encompasses the graveyard at St Nahi’s which goes back centuries, the Minister said noting the extensive history of the parish. The book is published by O’Brien Press and Ivan O’Brien, a parishioner of Taney, said the history of the parish, with graves in St Nahi’s going back to Viking times, placed Taney at the heart of Ireland. He paid tribute to Carol for the work she put into the book and everyone who had lent photographs which helped to build a picture of the community. Carol recalled writing the original parish history in 1990 and said the process of updating it had been great fun to do. She said all the information contained in the book had been researched but her main priority had been to make it reader-friendly and to show that Taney Parish was an integral part of the Dundrum community.

Lynn Glannville
Diocesan Communications Officer