The Eucharist will be celebrated in Irish in the Parish Church of Saint George, Belfast on 20 March 2011 at 7 o’ clock. Canon Gary Hastings will preside. Éamonn Ó Faogáin agus Úna Ni Mhonacháin will be the vocalists.
Rev. Stewart who is the rector of the Parish, has welcomed this proposal for a service in Irish from his parishioners.
"St. George’s Church is an open door in the heart of the city - a place of prayer and peace. As a Church we have developed new traditions in music, liturgy and inclusiveness down through the years. We see that a service in Irish could form part of a new tradition for our church. We are opening the door on 20 March and we will take it from there".
The Parish Church of St George is the oldest Church of Ireland church in Belfast. It has a ‘High Church’ ethos and it has a strong liturgical and musical tradition.
It was the first church to introduce, amongst other things, the Harvest Thanksgiving, musical recitals in church, early morning celebrations of the Holy Communion, drama in church and, since its first organist Edward J. Bunting (1817 1821) – renowned for his work in collecting and recording Irish Music - it is renowned for its musical traditions.
Originally St. George’s territory stretched from the Falls Road to the Lagan and from Waring Street to Dunmurry and it was known as the Perpetual Curacy of Upper Falls. No less than 10 parishes have been formed out of this territory. One of them, Saint John the Baptist, took on the title of the Upper Falls – leaving the church with its present title, ‘The Parish Church of St. George, Belfast’.
St. George’s Church has an eventful history. The original chapel was used by pilgrims waiting to cross the mud flats which were dangerous at high tide. During the Commonwealth, Cromwell’s troops were stationed in the building, and the lead from the roof was taken for making musket balls. A century later, in 1798, the body of Henry Joy McCracken, the United Irishman executed in the Cornmarket, was buried in the churchyard.
Welcomg the service on 20 March 2011, the Cathaoirleach (Chairperson) of Cumann Gaelach na hEaglaise, Dáithí Ó Maolchoille, said:
“We offer our full support to St. George’s Church. We are delighted that St. George’s are taking this step and we hope that it will continue. We will help them in whatever way we can now, and in the future. We are here to support and help any other group or church that may wish to develop an initiative to promote the use of the Irish language in the Church.