NEW: Scroll down for a link to the Entrance Hall plaque dedication in 2009
The Early Years
Captain William Cole and the others responsible for creating the new town of Enniskillen in the years following 1611 chose as a site of the church the higher of the two hills on the island. The lower hill was the site of the original Market House, overlooking the Diamond or market place, that site now occupied by the town hall. The first church building was probably completed in 1627. William Pokrich was buried in the churchyard in 1628.
Hardly any of the original church remains, but part of its tower was incorporated into the present one and can be seen above the main entrance door where there is a small, old three light lattice window and a carved stone dated 1637 together with the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God).
The first church was simple and small, roofed with shingles, which required continual repair and maintenance. By the beginning of the nineteenth century this old building could no longer accommodate the growing number of parishioners, and in 1826 it was extended in length. By 1832, however, the spire had become so unsafe that it had to be demolished. This created the opportunity to rebuild completely, the task being completed by 1842. It is essentially this 1842 church which remains today, visible for miles around because of its 150 foot tower and spire. The chief alteration made to the church itself since then was an enlargement of the chancel, the work on which was done in 1889.
Twentieth Century Changes
Having undergone extension in the early 19th century, the then St. Anne's Parish Church was consecrated in 1842. As the town of Enniskillen grew steadily in population in the early years of the twentieth century, many of the small villages in the diocese stagnated. The parish also was one of the largest in numbers in Clogher Diocese, and so in 1921, on the proposal of Colonel Madden, a bill was enacted to enable the parish church of St. Anne to become a cathedral church of St. Macartin in the Diocese of Clogher, while still retaining the older and original Diocesan Cathedral Church of St. Macartan in Clogher. (Note the intriguing different spelling of "Macartan" in Clogher!) The church was dedicated as St. Macartin's Cathedral in 1923, as the second cathedral in Clogher Diocese. Since that year, therefore, Enniskillen has had a cathedral with stalls in the choir for the Dean and Chapter. Within this period, four of the rectors have also been Deans of Clogher, Hubert MacManaway, Thomas Clements, Brian Hannon and John McCarthy. With the new rector, the Very Reverend Kenneth Hall, who is also Dean, this brings the number to five.
Since the 1920s the two principal changes to the buildings have been the construction of a suite of new halls together with a conference room to replace the outdated small hall which lacked the necessary amenities for parish and diocesan functions, and the conversion of part of the nave into the Regimental Chapel of the Inniskilling Regiments. These two major undertakings were completed in 1964 and 1970 respectively, while in the intervening years two houses were built to accommodate the caretaker and the curate. The Diocese of Clogher is thus unique in both the Church of Ireland and the worldwide Anglican Communion in having two cathedrals!
Some outstanding Clergymen
In a period of more than three hundred and fifty years a long succession of clergy has served in the parish of Enniskillen. Some remained for several decades, while others ministered a year or two only.
A commemorative tablet listing all former ministers is mounted on a wall of the porch. It was presented by Mrs Hope Kerr in memory of her late husband, Robert J.L Kerr (1938-2007), and was dedicated on Sunday 1st November 2009 by the then Bishop of Clogher, Michael Jackson (now Archbishop of Dublin).
The dedication can be seen on Youtube.com at:
(As of 3rd October 2013 it has only been viewed forty times as few knew of its existence. Hopefully that number will increase much in the years to come.)
Among the more outstanding are Dr. Thomas Smyth, the rector in 1692, who, after serving in a number of other parishes, became the Bishop of Limerick. Bishop Smyth's grandson, a second Dr. Thomas Smyth, was rector of Enniskillen from 1772 to 1792. He was also Provost (as the Mayor used to be called) of the town and during his ministry the parish built a new rectory at Chanterhill.
Dr. Thomas Romney Robinson was rector from 1821 to 1825. He was principally a scientist, and gave up the living in Enniskillen to become Astronomer at the observatory in Armagh. A Fellow of the Royal Society, he published several scientific treatises, and is commemorated in the beautiful Californian tree poppy called Romneya coulteri. A very distinguished Anglican clergyman was William Connor Magee, who was rector between 1860 and 1864. He was the grandson of a Fermanagh man, was educated at the Royal school, and, on leaving this parish, became firstly Dean of Cork, and then Bishop of Peterborough in England. In 1891 he was consecrated Archbishop of York and lies buried in York Minster. John Charles Maude, a long serving rector 1825-1860, was highly respected by both parishioners and townsfolk. During his incumbency the present church was built, and he generously gave a new bell to complete the peal of eight in the tower.
During the 20th Century and up to the present year of 2010, only eight rectors served in the parish, in marked contrast to the many of the 19th century. These are those named above as Deans of Clogher, together with Charles T. Ovenden, Arthur T. Webb, James MacManaway and the previous rector Brian J. Courtney.
In addition the parish has usually had a curate who serves about two years, and so a very great number of clergy, now rectors in parishes all over the country, have contributed both to the spiritual life and to the weekly organisations of St. Macartin's.
This Cathedral Church has in its possession some interesting Communion silver, the Davis Chalice made in 1638, the Cathcart Flagon given in 1707, and a paten dated 1743. Two other chalices and two patens date from 1863 and were the gift of Charles Ovenden, the Provost. In 1970 the Connolly family gave a full silver Communion set for use in the Chapel, while in 1977 a ciborium was presented by John and Elma Kerr. Other gifts of silver have been an alms dish from the Styles family, and two silver bread boxes from Olive Craig.
Less than a dozen parish churches in Northern Ireland have towers with peals of eight or more bells where campanologists can exercise their skill. Enniskillen is one of these, and the peal of ten bells is rung in changes each Sunday and on special occasions. The bells can also be chimed, and townsfolk traditionally could hear the strains of well known hymns like Abide with Me, and Fight the Good Fight", sounding out over the streets and houses. When the church was rebuilt in 1842 eight bells were installed, hung on oak frames. These were replaced by modern steel frames in 1936, when two more bells were added making a peal of ten. The tenor bell weighing over one ton is heard on the hour when struck by the clock mechanism.
The original pipe organ was located in the West Gallery. Today only the console and exterior pipes remain. The current pipe organ was installed in 1936 by Peter Conacher and Company of both Huddersfield and Dublin. The three manual organ consists of thirty-three speaking stops, together with full pedal board and swell box. The organ was rebuilt by the Abbey Organ Company in the early 1990s.
Our Treasured Articles
It is regretted that the Communion silver cannot be placed on display due to the value of the articles, nor can the bells be seen because of their inaccessibility, but many valuable gifts like the main Communion table and that in the chapel are visible. These together with the other articles carry inscriptions with the names of their donors, and all contribute together to beautify our Cathedral Church.
St Macartan - A brief history
The Diocese of Clogher was originally coextensive with the territory of the Prince of Oriel. The see was founded by Saint Patrick, who appointed one of his household, Macartan, as first bishop in 454. Macartan was a convert from paganism, a companion of Saint Patrick and was the 'strong man' of Patrick, and it is said that when Patrick became worn out by his labours, Macartan would sometimes carry him on his broad shoulders over rough ground, marshes and rivers.
Macartan, who is the patron saint of the Diocese of Clogher, established the church in Clogher and spread the gospel in Tyrone and Fermanagh. It is said that Saint Brigid, Macartan's niece, was present at the founding of the see. The Cloch-Oir (Golden Stone), from which this diocese takes
its name, was a sacred ceremonial stone to the druids. It was given to Macartan by an old pagan noble, who had harassed Macartan in every possible way until the saint's patient love won the local ruler to the Christian faith. According to tradition the noble's son, Tighernach of Clones, succeeded Macartan as bishop.
The two Church of Ireland cathedrals of Clogher Diocese are named after Macartan, albeit with different spellings, St Macartan's, Clogher and St Macartin's, Enniskillen. There are many variations of the spelling of the name Macartan, which translates to "Son of the Rowan Tree".
Macartan died in the year 506 from natural causes, and his feast day is celebrated on March 24th. In the year 2006, the terquincentenary of his death (1500th anniversary) was recognised throughout the diocese. For the Church of Ireland, the celebrations culminated with the visit of the
Rt. Hon. and Most Revd. Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, to the diocese for four days during the weekend of St Macartanís Day.
The Collect of St. Macartan's Day
we thank you for Macartan, faithful companion of Saint Patrick and builder of your church in Clogher: Build up your church through those whom you call to leadership in this generation, and strengthen your church to proclaim the gospel of reconciliation and peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
St. Macartin's Cathedral
Enniskillen, Northern Ireland
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