Retired clergy visit Hill of Armagh

Monday October 9th 2023

Members of the Retired Clergy Association (NI) are pictured in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, with Archdeacon Peter Thompson (back row, extreme left). (Photo: Rev Clifford Skillen)

Report by the Rev Clifford Skillen

Members of the Retired Clergy Association (Northern Ireland) resumed their meetings after the summer break with a visit to St Patrick’s Cathedral and the Robinson Library, Armagh, on Thursday September 28.

Proceedings began with a tribute from the RCA (NI)’s chairman, Canon Jim Campbell, to Canon John McKegney, a former chairman of the Association, who died earlier that week.

Following light refreshments, members were welcomed by the Archdeacon of Armagh, the Ven Dr Peter Thompson, on behalf of the Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Rev John McDowell, and the Dean of Armagh, the Very Rev Shane Forster, both of whom were part of the Church Leaders Group (Ireland) attending a seminar in Rome to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

Archdeacon Thompson celebrated Holy Communion, assisted by the Very Rev Gregory Dunstan, a former Dean of Armagh. Following the service, the Archdeacon outlined the history of the Cathedral’s organ and gave members a musical treat by playing extracts of familiar hymns and music to demonstrate the full range of the organ’s capability.

Carol Conlin, Assistant Keeper of the Robinson Library, gave members a brief history of the library, the oldest in Northern Ireland, founded by Archbishop Richard Robinson in 1771 as part of his plans to establish a university in Armagh. Ms Conlin had laid out some of the library’s rare books, manuscripts, maps, coins and medals for white-gloved members to handle – with care!!

The visit ended with a tour of No 5 Vicar’s Hill, built in 1772 as the Diocesan Registry, which now houses a museum and visitors’ attractions, with examples on display including coins, gems, prints and early Christian artefacts.

Members agreed that the visit had been most interesting and fascinating and looked forward to the next meeting, to be held in Belfast Cathedral on Wednesday October 25, when the Rev Shona Bell will speak on the work of Corrymeela.

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