In 1831, Samuel Lewis writing in his Topographical Dictionary has the following entry: 'Taghmon, Barony of Shelmalier, Co. Wexford. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Ferns, episcopally united in 1764 to the rectory of Ballyconnick and with it forming the core to the prebend of Taghmon, in the cathedral of Ferns, to which was also united in 1785 the "impropriate" curacy of Ballymitty. It is in the patronage of the bishop. The glebe comprises only about three roods of land in the town. The church, towards the erection of which the Board of First Fruits, in 1818, granted a loan of £1,000, is a small but handsome edifice in the later English style, with a square embattled tower'.
Lewis's factual description of St. Munnu's fails to capture the deep affection for, and the significance of this little church in the lives of the Protestant community of the parish of Taghmon. Built in the heart of the village close to the site of St. Fintan Munnu's monastic settlement and beside the Norman keep, the church looks as if it grew there. It is set in an ancient graveyard with its venerable old vaults and tombstones. The remains of a magnificent granite cross stand just inside the entrance gates. The simple but elegant little church and its old world ambience create a sense of tranquillity and timelessness. St. Munnu's has played a pivotal role in the life of the parish and cannot be considered in isolation from its congregation, the mostly anonymous parishioners who built, decorated and maintained the church down through the years and served it faithfully.
Here they worshipped, were baptised, confirmed, married and life's journey over, laid to rest in the adjoining cemetery.
In 1702, Queen Anne remitted the Annates to the Church of England. Irish churchmen pushed for a similar concession. In 1711, the Tory Government decided to allow the Board of First Fruits (Annates) to use its revenue to aid the building and repairing of churches and to purchase glebe lands and build glebe houses. In 1777- 1778 the Irish Parliament voted a grant to the Board. After the Union of 1800, the Church of Ireland was granted compensation of £46,863 for the loss of three ecclesiastical boroughs. The interest on this could be used by the Board of First Fruits but there were very complicated rules and regulations regarding the granting of loans and repayments. In 1808, an Act consolidated all the Board's funds into a single account and gave it freedom to use its discretion to lend money and give grants. Between 1801 and 1822, the English Government gave £115,000 in grants to the Board of First Fruits, which enabled it to inaugurate a major programme of expansion and restoration of church property.
By the beginning of the 19th century it was obvious to the Vestry of St. Munnu's, Taghmon, that major renovations and construction were necessary in the immediate future. A new wall around the churchyard in 1801 cost £39. 10. 0 and a new gate was erected in 1814. There was a need to do something about rebuilding the church which had become very dilapidated. The roof and tower constantly required repairs. It was decided to apply to the Board of First Fruits for funding.
March 24, 1817 A decision was made to borrow the sum of £1,000 for rebuilding the Parish Church of Taghmon or building a new church for said parish 'the sum to be levied off the Union of Taghmon in fair and equal proportions for the payment of the said loan to the Trustees, by fair and equal annual instalments of £60 per annum, and that the first instalments of 6% on said entire loan shall be paid on the first day of July next after the expiration of one year from the day on which the first instalment of the loan shall be advanced - the Rev. Simon Little, Incumbent of the Parish of Taghmon be appointed to receive said loan, and that his receipt is a good and sufficient voucher for same'.
April 7, 1817 The levy, a sum of fifty two pounds, eleven shillings and sixpence was to be paid into the hands of the Rector to accumulate until a sufficient sum be raised to begin said work.
May 5, 1817 It was calculated that the Union contained 6309 acres
and that the levy should be five shillings and sixpence per score (20)
acres and three pence halfpenny per single acre. The Vestry was of the
opinion that the sum applotted was a fair and just one.
Resolution 8 'Walter Hore, Esquire of Harperstown, William Pemberton Pigott, Thomas Phillips, Rev. Simon Little and Rev. George Jones be appointed (as) a Committee to see the work of the new church be properly executed'.
April 13, 1818 A meeting was held in the room appropriated to
Divine Service (the Church having been thrown down) and the
following resolution was passed.
Resolution 7 'That a Committee of Walter Hore Esq., Colonel Pigott, Thomas Phillips and Rev. George Jones, curate, be appointed to state to the Lord Bishop of Ferns the objections to the present plan of the new church'. However, there is no further reference to this matter in the Vestry Minutes. It is recorded that the grant was paid in ten instalments. The interest was remitted faithfully, the levy imposed bringing in the necessary funds. The Church seems to have been rebuilt by 1819. The builder put the date in Roman Numerals over the main door (MDCCCXIX) but there are no references in the minutes to the architect, builder or progress of work.
There is a grave or vault underneath the floor of the church. Here lie the remains of a Catholic clergyman, Rev. Patrick Hore, a member of the Harperstown family. The Hores later conformed to the reformed religion and were active members of its congregation.
Henry S. Crawford B.E., writing in the Royal Society of Antiquities of Ireland Journal, 1905-1906, notes: 'The cross stands in the churchyard in the village. It is at the North of the church tower. The side nearest the church faces S.W. The opposite side is similar except that the base is plain. It will be seen that the shaft is missing and one arm broken. In its present condition it stands 8ft 6ins high of which the base takes up about half. The flat bosses (ornamental projections) on roundels (circles) with hollows in the centre are, I think, unusual; also the large cross in relief at the base'.
On the cover of the Journal can be seen a fine reproduction drawn by Joseph Hunt.
|1775||Samuel Cooper||John Eakins|
|1776 - 1778||John Cox, Junr.||Edward Howlin Darcy|
|1779 - 1780||Walter Hore||John Patten|
|1781 - 1782||John Cox, Junr.||Edward Howlin Darcy|
|1783 -||Edward Brenan||Joseph Eakins|
|1784 - 1785||John Batterton||Edward Brenan|
|1786 -||Samuel Cooper||Edward Brenan|
|1787 -||Nicholas Ennis||John McCoy|
|1788 - 1790||John McCoy||John Sheppard|
|1791 -||Walter Hore||John McCoy|
|1792 - 1796||William Hore||John McCoy|
|1797 - 1798||William Hore||William Allen Cox|
|1799 -||Nathaniel Patten||Samuel Ennis|
|1801 - 1802||Samuel Ennis||William Reeves|
|1802 -||J.M.Cullimore||Richard Crane|
|1803 - 1804||Samuel Ennis||William Reeves|
|1805 - 1806||Samuel Cooper||Samuel Ennis|
|1807 - 1809||Francis McCoy||James Bowles|
|1810 -||Francis McCoy||William Reeves|
|1811 - 1812||Francis McCoy||Samuel Ennis|
|1813 - 1817||Samuel Ennis||James McCoy|
|1818 - 1819||Col. Wm. Pigott||Thomas Phillips|
|1820 - 1824||John Monck||Richard Simmons|
|1825 -||Travers Hawkshaw||William McCoy|
|1826 -||Walter Hore||Travers Hawkshaw|
|1827 -||Col. Pigott||Thomas Sherlock|
|1828 -||(Sir) Wm. Cox||John Eakins (Deputy - Andrew Eakins)|
|1829 -||Christopher Sparrow||Joseph Lanmas|
|1830 -||John Sheppard||Samuel Ennis|
Vestrymen were to be registered in a special Register of Vestrymen and from this General Register a Select Vestry of twelve was to be elected every Easter.
The following were entitled to be registered:
We certify that the above is the Registry of all persons claiming and
qualified to act as Vestrymen of the Parish of Taghmon, Diocese of
Signed: Thomas John Jacob, Incumbent
John G. Jacob, Curate
William Pigott, Churchwarden.
June 15, 1870 At a Vestry meeting held on 15 June, 1870 the
following resolutions were passed.
Resolution 1. It was resolved 'that the members of this parish hereby agree to assess themselves at the minimum annual rate of sixpence in the £ on their holdings, weekly collection cards to be used in each family, and that a list be now opened of the names of those who wish to give large voluntary contributions either as donations or annual subscriptions'.
Resolution 3 'That subscriptions be paid half yearly on May 1, and November 1, all sums to be lodged in the Provincial Bank in the names of the clergy and churchwardens of Taghmon and Coolstuffe parishes with Walter Hore Ruthven and John Sparrow as Trustees, such deposits not to be removed or expended without the order and consent of the Parochial Vestry.'
Several annual subscriptions having been promised and cards distributed the meeting ended with the Benediction.
May 2, 1871 It was resolved that resolution 3 of 'June 15, 1870 be rescinded and the Parochial Treasurer be directed to forward all sums collected with names of subscribers to the Diocesan Treasury, to be by them paid to the Representative Body, in order that the Parish have the full benefit of any scheme that may be adopted for the administration of the Sustentation Funding'. This resolution, proposed by John Shepard and seconded by the Rev. J. Jacob, was passed unanimously.
All over Ireland congregations were organising their financial affairs and millions of pounds were collected for the general fund.
In 1873, in the parish of Taghmon the church population was 135. There were 45 registered Vestrymen and a Select Vestry of 15. The congregation of St. Munnu's had reorganised itself and was prepared to meet its financial commitments and conduct its own affairs.
1. A series of Land Acts between 1870 and 1903 transferred the bulk
of Irish land from landlords to tenants, which was an advantage to
both Catholics and Protestants who now became landowners. The
landlords were generously compensated. Some stayed on their
demesnes but many left the country and with them members of the
Church of Ireland.
2. During World War 1(1914-1918) families suffered the loss of sons.
3. Migration to towns and cities and emigration, particularly by younger sons to England, Canada and other parts of the British Empire denuded rural parishes of young families.
4. Intermarriage also took its toll.
These meetings and subsequent ones indicate the reluctance of both parishes to lose their autonomy and a desire to have their own parishes continue as before, each having its own clergyman. It was not to be. Deputations were sent to the Diocesan Council and to the Bishop. Negotiations continued until 1921 and by then both parishes had accepted the inevitable. They were anxious that the name of the future Union should incorporate both parishes. By 1922, the Union had taken place and in the Minutes of 22 February, we read that 'a meeting in the Union of Taghmon and Horetown was held'.
The Rectory of Horetown was retained as 'residence of the Incumbent of the Union, being more suitable and in better condition and more convenient, being between the two churches'.
It is interesting to note that in this last entry four women have
been registered as Vestrymen for the first time: Miss Stannard, Miss
E.E. Stannard, Mrs. J. Simmonds and Mrs. Howlin. A new chapter
had begun. Women, who must have had an enormous influence in the
core of the church, were not officially involved in church politics and
decision making. There is an interesting entry in the Vestry Minute
Book, 28 July, 1870 which illustrates the minor role of women.
'After some consideration as to providing a font for the church towards which the Church Temporalities Commissioners have promised to contribute a sum of £2 it was resolved that the ladies of the Parish be requested to collect whatever further sums may be required for this purpose'.
Later, for services to, and generosity towards the church, women are well represented on the wall plaques.
In 1549, the English Parliament gave its authority to a new service book called the First Prayer Book of Edward VI. This Prayer Book was based on the old Missal and Breviary that were in Latin. The work of translation into English was done mainly by Archbishop Cranmer. It was revised in 1552, 1559, 1603, and 1662, but its general character remained the same. No editions of the Prayer Book in Irish appeared before 1608. The Church of Ireland adopted the English Prayer Book of 1662, very largely the same as the Book of Common Prayer that is still in use. When the Church of Ireland was disestablished in 1870 it was free to alter its Prayer Book and a revised book was published in 1879. The General Synod of 1909 initiated steps for a further revision, which was published in 1926. Two alternative forms of Evening Prayer were added in 1933. At the General Synod of 1962, factors given special attention were the language of worship and the need for variety and flexibility in Services and more congregational participation. In 1984, the Alternative Prayer Book was introduced and is used in the parish of Taghmon. Music There are Church Hymnals in use in every church and congregational singing is widespread. The organist is a very important person whether the instrument be an organ, a harmonium or a keyboard.
The Organ There was a fine organ installed in St. Munnu's new church, at what period is not certain. The organ was made by Telford and Telford, Dublin. In 1830 William Telford set up his own business of constructing organs and in 1847 his brother Henry entered into partnership with him. They traded as Telford and Telford until 1870. The organ of Taghmon is at least 127 years old. Organs are temperamental and finely tuned and they need a compatible ambience to survive. In the last century and in the beginning of the 20th century most churches were cold and damp, which did not augur well for organs. About twenty years ago the organ in Taghmon had deteriorated so badly that it was literally falling apart. Richard and Ruth Miller of Killinick dismantled it and brought it to their home where they painstakingly and lovingly restored it. It is now worked by electricity in their home and at present needs further restoration.
Organists St. Munnu's was well served by the good ladies who came
to the fore as organists during the past 100 years.
Susan Anne Byron - Honorary Organist for 30 years from 1893 - 1923.
Miss Elizabeth E. Stannard. On 2 April 1923, the Vestry wished Miss E.E.Stannard 'a safe and pleasant voyage and journey to America' and thanked her 'for her kindness in playing the organ on different occasions'.
Miss Belharry of Ozier Hill
Miss L. Rhynhart 1939 - 1944
Mrs. Anna Grace Handcock was first mentioned as organist in 1944 and she was Honorary Organist for 35 years (1946 - 1981).
Mrs. Jane E. Clarke is the organist at present.
Organ Blowers Old organs were worked by a hand-blown bellows. Minutes, 24 April 1922. Mr. Joe Simmonds was the organ blower that year and from April to December he was paid 15/6d for his efforts. Later we read in the minutes the names of Mrs. Simmonds, a person called Whitney and J. Hawkins.
Daniel Cullimore, barrister-at-law, was a member of the well-known
Cullimore family whose enclosure is in the graveyard. He was born in
the parish and died in Monkstown in 1889. During his life he was a
very generous benefactor of the church, the interior of which was
decorated in his honour in 1893. His name has lived on in the parish.
In his will he bequeathed funds, the interest of which is used to
purchase coal every Christmas for distribution to the needy,
irrespective of religious denomination.
The Honourable Sarah Stuart O'Grady was a daughter of Walter Hore Ruthven of Harperstown. She died at Plattanstown in October 1917, aged 95 years. She was undoubtedly the most constant benefactress of the church and her generosity enabled the church to carry on in difficult times. For example, in 1914, the subscriptions totalled £41.12. 0, with 29 members contributing to the church fund. Mrs. O'Grady headed the list by subscribing £14. 0. 0. In her will she bequeathed money to the parish of Taghmon. In the Vestry Minutes of 11 April 1918, it is recorded that 'Mrs. O'Grady's Bequest altered the financial circumstances of the parish for the better and a resolution was passed which stated "the resolution passed by the Diocesan Synod for the Union of Taghmon and Horetown parishes should be rescinded". A vote of gratitude was passed to the late Mrs. O'Grady for her loving care while alive and for the generous provision for the future'. There are two funds, the interest on which ensures a substantial biannual income to the Church and a more modest payment to the O'Grady Fund which is used to help those in special need.
Susan Anne Byron, Honorary Organist from 1893-1923
Anna Grace Handcock, Honorary Organist from 1946-1981.
Robert Audley Byron, Orristown, is remembered by a handsome brass plaque.
Stannard Family, Bricketstown. There are three plaques in memory of the Stannard family.
Restoration Plaque, During the rectorship of Canon Ernest Brandon, when Samuel Deacon and Samuel Simmonds were Churchwardens, a major restoration of the church took place. The plaque commemorates the commencement of the restoration in 1979.
Rededication Plaque, The latest plaque to be erected is dated Sunday, 31 January, 1982, the day on which the restoration work was dedicated by Bishop Noel Willoughby, Bishop of Ferns and Ossory. Bishop Willoughby is resigning this year and was honoured on 1 February, when he was made a Freeman of the town of Wexford in recognition of his good work as Bishop.
In 1979 a major renovation project was undertaken at a cost of £22,000 . Canon Ernest A. Brandon was rector and Samuel Deacon and Samuel Simmons were Churchwardens at that time.
The present Churchwardens are Mrs. Daphne Deacon and Alan Simmons.
He is a Christian figure from our past who unites us and inspires us to celebrate all that is best in our common heritage, for the glory of God and "the credit of the little village"
|Ledger 1914 - 1955|
|1924 Expenditure (excerpts)|
|Repairs to the Church|
|Matt Brown's account April 1924||£||s||d|
|12 panes of glass||14||6|
|3 lbs. of putty||1||6|
|2 lbs. chain for ladder||2||6|
|Padlock for ladder||2||6|
|1/2 pt .best varnish||2||0|
|1 tin of Brasso||4|
|3 bolts + 4 screws for lock||8|
|1 scrub brush||1||0|
|Mrs. Dunne - washing church linen||1||8|
|Sexton: 10 shillings per month||6||0||0|
|1/2 yearly bonus (2 x £2. 5. 0.)||5||0||0|
|Organist for year||15||0||0|
|Organ blower - 2/2per month||1||6||0|
Breviary: A book containing the Divine Office for each day.
Glebe: The land devoted to the maintenance of a parish. The house built on the land was called the Glebe House, Parsonage or Rectory. The Glebe can be cultivated by the Incumbent or by tenants to whom it may be leased.
Impropriate: To place tithes of ecclesiastical (church) property in lay hands.
Incumbent: The holder of a Church living/ benefice; in other words the Rector.
Minister: A person charged with the performance of a spiritual function in church not necessarily an ordained person.
Minutes: Official records of meetings - can be an invaluable source of information.
Prebend A pension/living; the separate portion of land or tithe from which the stipend (money payment) is gathered.
R.C.B. Representative Church Body. The Irish Church Act (January 1871) established by law the R.C.B. which was to hold money and act as trustee for the Church of Ireland. It comprises the Archbishops and bishops with lay and clerical representatives from the parishes and co-opted members.
Synod: An assembly of the clergy of a particular Church or diocese (with sometimes representatives of the laity) duly convened for discussing and deciding ecclesiastical affairs.
Synodsman: A delegate to a Synod.
Tithes: At a date which cannot be precisely determined
tithes meant the payment of one tenth part of all
the produce of lands to the church. This became
general law in 900 AD. Tithes were
small/vicarial (due to a vicar) and large/rectorial
(due to a rector). They were of three sorts
1) praedial: of the fruits of the earth
2) personal: of the profits of labour
3) mixed: partly of the ground fruits and partly of labour .
They were used for the upkeep of churches and support of the clergy. They are now referred to as 'dues' and 'planned giving' and rarely live up to the value inherent in the name "tithe".
Vestry: A room attached to a church in which the Vestments and sacred vessels and other requisites for worship are kept, and in which the clergy dress for services.
Vestrymen: Formerly it was in the vestry that the parishioners met to transact the business of the parish and the word 'Vestry' came to mean the group of parishioners meeting and also the actual meeting itself. Those who attended were known as Vestrymen, though later women took part.