Church of Ireland, Taghmon


Rita Curtis

CHRISTIANITY

Christianity is one of the great religions of the world and the only one that claims its founder was God Himself, who came on earth in the person of Jesus Christ. By the fourth century AD Christianity had spread quite extensively and was uni-Christian for the first millennium.

EASTERN ORTHODOX CHURCHES

Christendom has suffered two great divisions since the times of the early Church. In 1054 AD the Eastern Orthodox Churches broke the connection with the Pope and refused to regard him as leader of the Christian world. From then on they looked upon the Patriarch of Constantinople as head of their Church.

REFORMATION

In the sixteenth century came the Reformation; the name given to the movement initiated by Martin Luther (1483-1546) resulting in the form of Christianity called Protestantism which led to a division in European Christians into those who recognised the authority of the Pope and those who did not. The reformed religion spread through the northern European countries but did not take firm root in England until the reign of Henry VIII and of his son Edward VI. On Henry's death the nine year old Edward became king. Government was carried on by a council of executors, the majority of whom threw all their energy into implementing religious changes including abolishing the Mass and introducing English as the language of Divine Worship. Gradually the reformed church became the Established Church and its influence spread throughout England.

IRELAND AND THE REFORMATION

There was no demand for Reformation in Ireland . It was imposed here by the English crown and though some Catholics conformed it never became the religion of the majority, but was regarded as a further attempt to extend English control over Ireland. Nevertheless, there emerged in almost every parish in Ireland, particularly in Wicklow and North Wexford, communities of Protestants who organised themselves into parishes in need of a church and a rector to cater for their spiritual needs.

CHURCH OF IRELAND, TAGHMON

When we speak of the Church of Ireland we are referring to the local Protestant congregations and the buildings in which they worship. It is not known exactly when the Taghmon Parish had its first Church built. The present church, St. Munnu's, was built in 1819 on the site of a previous church, the tower of which was incorporated in the new church .

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.

BOARD OF FIRST FRUITS/ANNATES

Annates were the first year's revenue of an ecclesiastical benefice, dignity or bishopric. Before the Reformation this was remitted to Rome. In England, in 1534, the Annates were transferred from the church to the crown under the Annates Statute of Henry VIII.

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.

VESTRY BOOK MINUTES, TAGHMON (1775-1870)

January 16, 1817 A Vestry meeting was held where 'it was resolved and agreed upon by the Protestant Parishioners there present, that from the ruinous state of the Parish Church, to apply to the Board of First Fruits for a loan to rebuild it. It was resolved that our Minister do write to the Bishop informing him of our resolution requesting that he will have the goodness to apply to the Board of First Fruits for a loan of £800 to rebuild the Church. And that we will take care to make good and discharge the Annual Interest of the Loan'.
Signed: Simon Little, Minister
Sam Ennis, Churchwarden
William Pigott, Churchwarden
Thomas Phillips
William Molloy
John Eakens

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.

THE NEW CHURCH

The new church was simple in plan with a nave and a vestry. The tower of the original church had been retained and restored but the nave was facing in a different direction. St. Munnu's was a typical example of the architectural style of Church of Ireland rural churches of the period in which they were built. They reflect the numerical strength and financial state of their congregations and benefactors. The church was Gothic in style with splendid windows letting in plenty of light which dispelled the gloom of churches with smaller windows. The walls were probably of local stone, some salvaged from the demolished church. The timber roof was slated and there was an underfloor heating system. The interior decoration was minimal with the altar and the pulpit the dominant features. The wall plaques commemorating local members of the congregation and benefactors were yet to come.

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.

COOLSTUFFE

Coolstuffe continued as a separate parish for many years, but it seems eventually to have united with Taghmon later in the century.

HIGH CROSSES - THE CROSS OF TAGHMON

High crosses were a distinct feature of monastic settlements and were erected sometimes as memorials or to mark a great occasion. While the most famous Irish crosses are intricately decorated the Cross of Taghmon is almost modern in its elegant simplicity. The date and occasion of its erection are forgotten but it is thought to date from the ninth century and to have been vandalised by Viking invaders.

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.

A paten, dated 1777, which is still in use in the church (Photo - Padraig Grant)

St. Munnu's Church of Ireland, Taghmon

A Rubbing of the Hore Gravestone

Scroll: Rufina Walsh; Photo: Padraig Grant.
Thanks are also due to the late Chancellor Ernest Brandon

CHURCHWARDENS

Churchwardens are an integral part of the Church of Ireland. They are lay people chosen by the Incumbent and parishioners. The election is ordinarily made at the Easter Vestry Meeting. The duties of the churchwardens comprise the business and financial side of parochial activity and the care and preservation of the church and its furnishings. In his book 'Ferns Clergy and Parishes', Rev. J.B. Leslie includes a list of Taghmon Churchwardens, 1775-1830.
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

19TH CENTURY

The 19th century was one of political and agrarian unrest and brought many changes to the structure of the Church of Ireland. It became apparent that there were too many parishes and dioceses, which made funding difficult for the parliament and congregations.

CHURCH TEMPORALITIES ACT 1833

By this Act the archbishoprics of Cashel and Tuam were reduced to bishoprics, ten bishoprics were 'suppressed' and others joined neighbouring dioceses. It was at this time that Ferns and Ossory united, their bishop to reside in Kilkenny.

TITHES

Members of all religious denominations were obliged to pay tithes for the support of the Established Church and this was an on-going source of bitterness and resentment. Resistance to the payment of tithes stiffened in the 1830s and there were widespread disturbances.

TITHE ACT 1838

The Government eventually realised that the problem had to be dealt with and a Tithe Act came into force in 1838. While the grievances were by no means removed the tithe tax was reduced and the Tithe War ended.

DISESTABLISHMENT 1869

In 1869, the Irish Church Act disestablished the Church of Ireland. Under Gladstone, the Liberal Party had become convinced that the Church of Ireland, in view of the small proportion of the Irish population who gave it their allegiance, could not any longer be maintained as the state church. They felt that its established position was an obstacle to the good relations between England and Ireland which Gladstone, by attacking the land problem, was labouring to achieve. The Irish Church Act received the royal assent on 26 July 1869 and came into force on 1 January 1871.

REORGANISATION

The Church of Ireland faced a new and challenging situation. It was left in possession of its churches and the funds necessary to support its bishops and clergy but not their successors. It was to become a self- governing body and in future the money needed for the upkeep of the Church had to come mainly from the laity in the parishes. With this came a great increase in the involvement and power of the laity, which was accompanied by a strong sense of responsibility.

REGISTER OF VESTRYMEN TAGHMON PARISH (1870-1921)

From the first entry in the Register it can be seen that in Taghmon Parish the parishioners responded promptly to the need for organisation and involvement.

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:

  1. A male of 21 years
  2. A resident or owner of property in a parish
  3. An accustomed member of the congregation attending the church for six months previously
  4. An owner of property not resident in a parish but a contributor to the church fund of that parish
May 1870 The first entry in the Parish Register was in May 1870 when forty nine names of Vestrymen were registered:
  1. John Sides, Taghmon
  2. John W. Canning, Taghmon
  3. William P. Pigott, Clover Valley, Taghmon.
  4. Henry Hopley, Ardenagh, Taghmon.
  5. John Shepard, Snr., Philipstown.
  6. John Sparrow, Ballyconnick, Taghmon.
  7. John Sparrow, Jnr., Ballyconnick, Taghmon.
  8. Edward Sheppard, Ballyconnick, Taghmon.
  9. Robert Sparrow, Ballintlea
  10. Bostock Jacob, Growtown
  11. Edward Rothwell, Growtown.
  12. William Tomkin, Coolstuffe
  13. William Morris, Bricketstown
  14. William G. Williamson, R.I.C., Taghmon
  15. Charles Tottenham, Llangolen, Wales
  16. Edward P. Pigott, Capt. 44th. Regiment, Londonderry
  17. Matthias Rothwell, Growtown.
  18. William Rothwell, Growtown
  19. Charles Tottenham, Ballycurry, Co. Wicklow.
  20. Richard Ward, Taghmon
  21. Frederick K. Pigott, Slevoy Castle, Taghmon
  22. Richard P. Pigott, Slevoy Castle, Taghmon
  23. John McGarry, Slevoy.
  24. Thomas Flynn, H.C. R.I.C. Taghmon
  25. Walter Hore Ruthven, Harperstown, Taghmon.
  26. William Sheppard, Hilltown, Ballymitty.
  27. Richard Henry Sheppard, Hilltown, Ballymitty.
  28. John Henry Sheppard, Hilltown, Ballymitty.
  29. William Henry Sheppard, Jnr., Hilltown, Ballymitty.
  30. Robert Narcissus Batt, Purdystown, Belfast
  31. James Caul, Taghmon.
  32. George Sparrow, Wexford.
  33. John Byron, Harristown
  34. Thomas Pudney, Harperstown
  35. Thomas McCoy, Slevoy.
  36. Edward McCoy, Slevoy.
  37. Alexander Gibbings, R.I.C. Taghmon
  38. Richard Simmons, Ballyweather.
  39. James Howlin, Snr., Ballyharron, Kyle.
  40. Jacob Hesse, Growtown.
  41. Robert Hornick, Ballinaglough, Taghmon
  42. John Hornick, Ballinaglough, Taghmon
  43. Francis Martin, Harristown.
  44. Arthur Martin Jnr., Harristown.
  45. Robert Martin, Jnr., Harristown.
  46. Arthur Martin Snr., Harristown.
  47. Charles T. Harvey, Hillboro.
  48. Charles M. Doyne, Wells, Oulart
  49. Samuel Warriver, Ballygow, New Ross.

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 Ferns.
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.

SELECT VESTRY

July 18, 1870 At a Vestry held in the Parish Church on Monday, 18 July, 1870 the Select Vestry, whose responsibility it would be to conduct with the clergy the affairs of the parish, was appointed - the members being chosen from the General Vestry.
  1. John Sides, Taghmon.
  2. John Sheppard, Snr., Philipstown .
  3. John Sparrow, Snr., Ballyconnick.
  4. Bostock Jacob, Growtown.
  5. William Morris, Bricketstown.
  6. Edward Rothwell, Growtown.
  7. John Sheppard, Snr., Hilltown, Ballymitty.
  8. James Howlin, Ballyharron, Kyle.
  9. Robert Hornick, Ballinaglough.
  10. Arthur Martin, Snr., Harristown.
  11. Richard Ward, Taghmon.
  12. Richard Pigott, Slevoy Castle, Foulksmills.
Ex officio members
Rev. Thomas Jacob
Rev. George Richards
Rev. John G. Jacob
Capt. Pigott, Clover Valley, Churchwarden
Robert Sparrow, Ballintlea, Churchwarden

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.

UNION WITH HORETOWN

As the years passed there was a decline nation-wide in the rural Protestant population. The parish of Taghmon was no exception. This was caused by many factors .

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.

TAGHMON VESTRY MINUTES -15 MAY, 1915.

A meeting was called by the Bishop's direction to consider the amalgamation of the parish with that of Horetown under a resolution of the Synod of 1901. After considerable discussion a resolution, proposed by Mr J.E. Stannard and seconded by Mr G. Gore, was unanimously adopted: 'that having considered fully the financial position, we, the Select Vestry of Taghmon do not wish the Union with Horetown to take effect as we prefer to remain separate and have our own clergyman'.

PARISH OF HORETOWN: ST. JAMES'S -VESTRY MINUTES 31 MAY, 1915.

A meeting of the Select Vestry of Horetown Parish was held in Horetown Church on Monday, 31 May, at twelve o'clock, by direction of the Bishop, to consider the uniting of the Parishes of Horetown and Taghmon. A resolution proposed by E.N. Townsend and seconded by Col. Strong was passed; 'that in the opinion of this Vestry it is not desirable at present to unite the Parishes of Horetown and Taghmon.'

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'.

REGISTER OF TAGHMON VESTRYMEN - LAST ENTRY, 7 FEBRUARY 1921.

The Register was filled in faithfully every year from 1870-1921, the last entry being on 7 February 1921. The members of the General Vestry were:
  1. Miss Stannard, Bricketstown
  2. Miss E.E. Stannard, Bricketstown
  3. Mr. Arthur Ward, Taghmon
  4. Mrs. J. Simmonds, Keelogues
  5. Mrs. Howlin, Ballyoughter
  6. R. Byron, Orristown
  7. A. Byron, Harristown
  8. J. Doris, Wilkinstown
  9. J. Earle, Shawstown
  10. F. Gore, Forest
  11. W. Hawkins, Balloughter
  12. Joseph Kendrick, Taghmon
  13. Thomas Kendrick, Poulpeasty
  14. Shirley Kendrick, Poulpeasty
  15. S. R. McCutcheon, Hilltown
  16. George Rhynhart, Harristown.
  17. Matthias Rothwell, Growtown
  18. Edward Rothwell, Growtown
  19. The Master of Ruthven
  20. J.E. Stannard Esq., Bricketstown
  21. Richard Simmonds, Coolstuffe
  22. Major C.K. Tottenham
  23. Fredrick Ward, Taghmon
  24. Richard Ward, Taghmon
  25. Charles McCutcheon, Hilltown
  26. Samuel Kendrick, Jnr., Poulpeasty
  27. Thomas Kendrick, Jnr., Poulpeasty
  28. William Cooper, Tullycanna
  29. Sergeant Abbott, Taghmon.

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.

WORSHIP IN THE CHURCH OF IRELAND

Book of Common Prayer. Prayer, music and the singing of hymns are very important in the Church Services.

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.

PLAQUES

The wall plaques are a record in stone of faithful departed or of special events in the life of the church.
Rev. Henry Francis Lyte ministered in the parish as curate of St. Munnu's where the Rector was the Rev. Simon Little. He is known world-wide for the psalms and hymns which he produced for church use, including 'Praise my soul the King of Heaven' and 'Abide with Me'. He died in Nice on 22 November 1847 and is buried there.

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.

RESTORATION 1979 - 1982

St. Munnu's is almost 200 years old. Like all old buildings it needs constant renovation and decoration. Churches are a nation's greatest collective heritage and posterity will be indebted to those whose generosity handed on these treasures in good condition.

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.

  1. The vestry was rebuilt
  2. The wainscoting was removed and the walls re-plastered and re- painted.
  3. An old underfloor heating system was removed and a new floor laid and carpeted.
  4. The Communion area was updated.
  5. The seats were stripped of dark brown paint and restored to their original colour.
  6. Any other repairs needed were attended to both indoors and outdoors.

FUND RAISING

The Churchwardens, aided by Aby Watchorn and Bob Ward and supported by a hard working committee, headed a fund raising campaign. They thought up a multiplicity of events and schemes to raise money and repay the debt. They were successful in their efforts and were supported by both denominations, a proof of the traditional good relations between Protestants and Catholics in the parish.

WEXFORD UNION.

Canon E. Brandon retired in 1995 and he was not replaced. Taghmon is now in the Parish of Wexford Union (Castlebridge, Killurin, St. James's Horetown, St. Munnu's, Taghmon and St. Iberius's Wexford). Canon N.T. Ruddock is rector of the Parish of Wexford Union and resides in the Rectory at Park, Wexford. Taghmon has services on 1st, 3rd and 5th Sundays of the month and Horetown on the 2nd and 4th Sundays. The rectory at Horetown has been sold.

The present Churchwardens are Mrs. Daphne Deacon and Alan Simmons.

RESTORATION 1996-1997

The Church has been closed for some months and looked very forlorn. A part of the ceiling collapsed and rot was discovered in the base of the pulpit and other areas. Renovation work is well advanced and re- dedication is scheduled for 16 March. Once again St. Munnu's will present a brave new face and enter the third millennium of Christianity in style.

REFLECTION

As it recalls the coming of its evangelist in 597 AD and the source of its name, Taghmon can be proud of St. Fintan Munnu, and rejoice in the many aspects of his rich heritage.

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"

Ar choimrigh DÉ 's Munnu muid

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 18
Washing surplice 8
Sexton: 10 shillings per month 6 0 0
1/2 yearly bonus (2 x £2. 5. 0.)5 0 0
Organist for year1500
Organ blower - 2/2per month160
The excerpts give an idea of careful bookkeeping and the value of money and labour at that time.

GLOSSARY

Applot To divide into parts or plots.

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.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Maria Colfer
Samuel Deacon
Rev. R. Graham
Ruth Miller
Hilary Murphy, 'The People', Wexford.
National Archives,
National Library, Dublin.
R.C.B. Library; (Heather Smith and, Dr R. Refausse)
Canon N.J. Ruddock
Eithne Scallan
Rufina Walsh
Mai Ward
Iris Watchorn
Wexford County Library (Celestine Rafferty)

REFERENCES AND NOTES

  1. The Church of Ireland, by Kenneth Milne A.P.C.K., Church of Ireland House, Rathmines, Dublin.
  2. A Short history of England, by Cyril Ransome, M.A. Longman, Green and Co. (1903).
  3. The Church of Ireland, by Kenneth Milne.
  4. The Emergence of Modern Ireland 1600-1900, by L. M. Cullen, Billing & Son Ltd., (1981).
  5. Dictionary of Beliefs and Religions
  6. Samuel Deacon, Taghmon
    Canon E. A.Brandon was also of the opinion that the tower of the existing church incorporates part of the walls of the original Abbey Church.
  7. Oxford Dictionary of Christian Church, edited by F.L. Cross, London, Oxford University Press (1958).
  8. The Story of Harperstown (Taghmon Grave), by Richard Roche F.R.S.A.I. Journal of The Taghmon Historical Society No.1
  9. The Church of Ireland, by Kenneth Milne
  10. Register of Vestrymen, published by James Charles, Dublin 1870.
  11. The Church of Ireland, by Kenneth Milne.
  12. A Short History of England, by Cyril Ransome B.A. The Church of Ireland, by Kenneth Milne.
  13. William Telford and the Victorian Organ in Ireland, by Professor Gerard Gillen in Music and the Church, Irish Academic Press, Blackrock, 1993. My thanks are due to Ruth Miller for bringing this article to my attention.
  14. Vestry Minutes, Taghmon Parish, R.C.B. Library.
  15. Iris Watchorn and Peg Hornick.
  16. Henry Francis Lyte, by Evelyne Miller - Journal of The Taghmon Historical Society, No. 1.
  17. Parochial Records, St. Fintan's, Taghmon.
  18. The Story of Harperstown, by Richard Roche F.R.S.A.I. Journal of The Taghmon Historical Society No. 1.
    National Archives, Bishop St., Dublin.
  19. Ledger Accounts, Taghmon Parish, R.C.B. Library. Note: £14 in 1914 = £903 in 1996. C.S.O. Dublin.
  20. Samuel Deacon, Taghmon
  21. As memorably spoken by 'Matt The Thrasher' in Knocknagow, by Charles J.Kickham, James Duffy & Co. Ltd., Dublin, 1887.
  22. 'Under God and Munnu'