First Friends of Clogher Cathedral service takes place since 2018


Taking part in the 64th Annual Friends Service in St. Macartan's Cathedral Clogher.

The 64th Annual Friends Service took place in St. Macartan’s Cathedral, Clogher on Sunday, 26 March, the first such service since 2018, mainly due to the Covid pandemic.

Mr Jack Johnston former secretary of Friends of Clogher Cathedral reading a lesson.

The service was conducted by Revd Alison Irvine, who was joined by fellow clergy and laity, the Bishop of Clogher, the Right Revd Dr. Ian Ellis; the Dean of Clogher, the Very Revd Kenneth Hall; Canon Noel McGahan, Parish Priest of Clogher and Mr. John Irvine, Diocesan Reader.

The hymns were; “God is here,” “Thy hand, O God, has guided” and “Saviour, again to thy dear name we raise.” The organist was Mrs Diane Simpson and guest music was provided by Tully Meadow Singers accompanied by Roisin McCurry with conductor, Siobhan O’Neill.

The lessons were read by Mr Jack Johnston and Mrs Beryl Boyd.

The preacher was the Bishop of Clogher, the Right Revd Dr. Ian Ellis who said it was good to be associated with a body of supporters of the Cathedral extending beyond its congregation and across denominational boundaries.

He said the group, Friends of Clogher Cathedral spoke of their common desire to support, care and love this historic place of worship and of their belief that together they could help to maintain its witness and role in the community.

Bishop Ellis went on to expand on the meaning of “ friend.”

“St Macartan as you all know, has historically been described as the friend or ‘faithful companion’ of Patrick. The ancient origin of this diocese and Cathedral church brings us back to the early Celtic church in these islands. It transports us to the missionary movement of those early Christians who through the leadership of those saints like Patrick and Bridget and their friends and followers set up centres of prayer and learning, and from them reached out to the indigenous people, eventually bringing the Gospel to every part of these islands.

“In continuing our worship on the same holy sites, we are joining in God’s mission and uniting in their friendship too. There is something inspiring and comforting to know that the walls of these ancient churches have echoed the prayers of countless saints, friends in the Lord and we join with them in approaching God in a place hallowed by such prayer.

“There was a group of Christians in the history of the church, in the Rhine valley during the 14th century who called themselves ‘The Friends of God’. They wanted to discover God’s friendship in a closer way than the medieval church encouraged. They tried to revitalize the spiritual life of local communities through letters, visiting people, and what they called ‘soul friendships’. They became a very influential informal society and a spiritual force in Europe before the Reformation.

“Perhaps today we could learn from this approach of understanding our faith as a friendship with God and with one another. We today need to counteract the atomisation of society which encourages self-interest, individualism, and the denial of community. We who believe we are the friends of God could become his instruments for transformation.

“So, as we commemorate once again, St Macartan who died in 506AD, we are caused to reflect as Friends of this Cathedral upon his life and witness. We give thanks for his steadfastness in bringing the ancient faith to Counties Tyrone and Fermanagh. We praise God for the founding of this Cathedral church, giving thanks for the heritage of prayer and worship we have received, and may we seek a greater understanding of what it is to be a ‘friend of God’.

Following the service, afternoon tea was served in the Cathedral Hall by members of the Mothers’ Union.

The annual meeting of the Friends of Clogher Cathedral then took place with Bishop Ellis presiding.

Reports were presented by the Secretary, Mrs Isabel Gilmore and the Treasurer, Mr Harrison Boyd. The committee was re-elected with the addition of Mrs Hilary Keys.

The Bishop paid tribute to the work of Mr Boyd, the retiring treasurer and closed with the Grace.

Mrs Beryl Boyd reading a lesson.

Bishop Ian Ellis who was the preacher.


Tully Meadows Singers who took part.