THE Church of Ireland Bishop of Cork, Dr Paul Colton, has called for both sensitivity and honesty when commemorating the centenaries of the War of Independence and the Civil War.
Bishop Colton, whose Diocese of Cork, Cloyne and Ross includes West Cork, has said that some within the Church of Ireland in West Cork are anticipating the centenaries with trepidation and dread.
Bishop Colton, while speaking at a ceremony at St Mary’s Church in Dunmanway to mark the 90th anniversary of the death of IRB man, GAA administrator and local member of the Church of Ireland, Sam Maguire, was refering to the killing of 13 Protestants in April 1922 in West Cork, just after the Truce was declared.
He said he was aware that some within his congregation were anticipating the centenaries of various events in Cork with ‘a certain dread.’
He noted the recent West Cork History Festival in Skibbereen prompted much heated debate with the screening of An Tost Fada, which tells the story of how Canon George Salter’s father was threatened by the IRA and forced to flee Ireland, leading to accusations and denials of sectarianism.
The courageous steps taken by our own Canon George Salter, now in his 90s, to tell his family’s story as he inherited it, drew heated debate, Bishop Colton said. ‘Among many there is still an enduring reluctance to talk,’ he said.
The ceremony, organised by Rev Clifford Jeffers in Dunmanway, involved the naming and dedication of eight bells at St Mary’s Church.
Each bell reflects an aspect of life of the man who recruited Michael Collins into the IRB in London. The special service was also attended by the Catholic Bishop of Cork and Ross, Dr John Buckley and GAA president, Aogán Ó Fearghaíl.
Bishop Colton said stories from the War of Independence and Civil War periods, ‘are still vibrant on all sides of the conflict as part of the oral tradition’ and while there was an understandable reluctance ‘to name anything in our past as sectarian .... we are not well served by pretence, either.’
‘This project has set a tone that others, locally, regionally and nationally might do well to note and to emulate as we prepare – a note of reconciliation, a note of co-operation and partnership, a note of dialogue and a note of opportunity of community building for the future,’ he concluded.