Gala Dinner as Lisburn Cathedral celebrates 400 years

Thursday April 27th 2023

400th anniversary cake cut after the service in January launching the year of events. Photo: Norman Briggs.

Christ Church Cathedral, Lisburn, is continuing its celebrations marking the 400th anniversary of worship on the Cathedral site in the heart of the city with a Gala Dinner on May 19.

This will take place in Edenmore Golf and Country Club, Magheralin, and there will be a drinks reception, four-course dinner and dancing until late. Tickets for the event are £40 and are available on the Cathedral website.

The year of celebration began on January 7, with ‘400 minutes of Prayer’,’ and a service to officially launch the 400th anniversary was held on January 15 in the presence of the Bishop of Connor, the Rt Rev George Davison, and other dignitaries.

The Bishop was presented with a 400th anniversary calendar for 2023, featuring an aerial view of the Cathedral site, the old Huguenot graves in the churchyard, the refurbished interior (2012), Harvest, Remembrance, Easter outreach in the Hillhall Estate, the old Cathedral Gates (1925), hope in the face of Covid-19, and more.

Following the service, the Cathedral’s Nimble Fingers group unveiled an incredible 3D knitted model of the Cathedral, graveyard and some of the key historic buildings in Bridge Street, Castle Street and Market Square.

Other events planned include themed open days in July and August, along with a series of talks on the history of the Cathedral.

A concert featuring New Irish Arts will take place in September, and a 400th anniversary closing service will be held before Christmas.

The first church on the site of Christ Church Cathedral was built by Sir Fulke Conway who, when he moved from England to settle in Lisburn, constructed his castle in the park adjacent to the site of what was then called St Thomas’ Church, serving the castle family and staff and the small population of the immediate area.

Some 40 years later, Charles II established the church to be the Cathedral Church of Down and Connor, and later Lisburn Cathedral was recognised as the Cathedral of the Diocese of Connor.

The original church was left in ruins after a rebel army attack on Lisburn in 1641. It was restored but was destroyed by fire, as was most of the town, in 1707. Again the Cathedral was rebuilt – the foundation stone was laid in 1708. The current Chancel was added in 1889.

The Cathedral has connections with such historic events as the American War of Independence, the Siege of Delhi 1798, and the United Irishmen. Also, the Huguenot settlement in Ireland, the development of the linen industry and events following the killing of the Mayor of Cork and the subsequent murder in Lisburn of the senior police officer whose men were accused of that murder.

Welcoming people to attend events during the year of celebration, the Dean of Connor and rector of Lisburn Cathedral, the Very Rev Sam Wright said: “Over the past 400 years, through many times of trials and challenges, joy and celebrations, worship has been given to Almighty God on the site where Lisburn Cathedral sits today.

“Throughout this anniversary year, it is our desire to give thanks to God for his faithfulness and for the many generations of Christian people who have provided a faithful witness to the Gospel in Lisburn and beyond. At the same time we look forward to, and pray for that worship, Christian teaching, prayer and outreach continuing and flourishing into the future.”

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