Most people who profess belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ call themselves Christians. And most Western European Christians call themselves either Catholics or Protestants.
But not so for the members of the Church of Ireland. They call themselves Catholics AND Protestants. On our second night in Galway we found ourselves walking to a Church of Ireland church after dinner. This church has been around for an eternity and for a long time it was a Catholic Church, then for a short while Protestant, then back and forth between Catholic and Church of Ireland. To make this even more complicated, members of three different Orthodox communities (most Christians in eastern Europe call themselves Orthodox Christians) come to this church to worship. Now this may sound very interesting to some but others are probably asking why on earth are we looking forward to seeing the inside of this church?
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We were casually strolling down Galway’s Main Street earlier that day (see here) when we came across this poster announcing the fact that there will be a concert tonight. It sounded like a great idea and so we planned to return after dinner.
There has been a church on this site since the 1200s. This particular church was built around 1320. It is the largest medieval church still in operation in Ireland. It was a Catholic church for more than 300 years and then Oliver Cromwell conquered Galway in 1652 and turned the church into a stable for his horses. For nearly 40 years the church was either Catholic or Protestant depending on the religion of England’s monarch. In 1691 all Catholics of Galway were officially banished from the city and St Nicholas Church has belonged to the Church of Ireland ever since. Today the church shares its building with three different Orthodox Christian communities.
From March to December 2005 St Augustine Church on Middle Street was renovated and St Nicholas welcomed the Catholic congregation to worship at their church and both congregations participated in a big candle-lit parade from St Augustine to St Nicholas. In December the renovation was completed and there was a big candle-lit parade from St Nicholas back to St Augustine.
TripAdvisor ranks the church as #15 of 114 Things to Do in Galway and Tunes in the Church as # 3 of 21 Concerts and Shows in Galway.
The southeast side of the church sits at the junction of Churchyard, High and Shop Streets. We had to walk around to the front entrance.
We had a guided tour of the church during the intermission.
That’s my granddaughter Mia on the left. All four grandkids are musically oriented and perform in their school bands and they all enjoyed the concert. Mia is a percussionist, following in the footsteps of her mother and older brother. Her favorite instruments are the tympani and any instrument that requires mallets.
The second half of the concert featured Cormac Begley and his concertinas. Aneta danced to a few of his songs, too.
Sorry about the unsharp picture — a few heads got in the way! Yes, I need to stop relying on autofocus.
See here for more information on the Tunes in the Church concerts.
The next day we went on an all-day bus tour to the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare. That will be the subject of my next post.
Irish Music Bonus – – Cormac Begley and Aneta Dortova
Cormac Begley (he often goes by his Irish surname O Beaglaoich) comes from the famous West Kerry traditional Irish Music family that includes his accordion-playing father Brendan and his fiddle-playing sister Cliodhna. While studying for his PhD in Psychology at National University Ireland Galway he founded Tunes in the Church in 2008. Cormac showed off his concertina collection at our concert and gave us an interesting history of the concertina and its various shapes and sounds. In this video recorded in Cuas on the Dingle Peninsula Cormac plays a couple of reels accompanied by Libby McCrohan on the bouzouki.
Aneta Dortova has often been seen busking on Galway’s Main Street over the last few years. She also teaches dance at Claddagh Arts Centre and has performed in Scotland, Spain and the Czech Republic. She also has participated in some music talent shows in Dublin. Here she is demonstrating the sean-nos (old-style) form of dancing in front of some of the popular restaurants on Galway’s Quay Street.
I could not find any videos of Aisling Morgan but she has a website here.