Church bells set to ring out in honour of Sam Maguire

Church bells are set to ring out in honour of legendary GAA figure Sam Maguire thanks to the Church of Ireland parish in West Cork where he is buried.

St Mary’s Church in Dunmanway has taken delivery of eight bells which will be installed in its tower to celebrate one of the area’s most famous sons, after whom the iconic All-Ireland senior football trophy is named.

The bells, two of which are new, and which are inscribed with Maguire’s name, were named the Sam Maguire Community Bells and dedicated by the Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, Paul Colton, during a special ecumenical service at the weekend. The bells will be raised to the church tower and installed over the coming weeks.

Church leaders said one of the main aims of this project is to provide an amenity that can be used by all of the people of Dunmanway, and already, groups of parishioners have been learning the art of bell-ringing on a temporary and moveable ring of bells set up in the church.

The bell project was started by the local rector, Reverend Cliff Jeffers, after the 1916 centenary celebrations last year, and as the parish sought to commemorate the legendary sportsman and patriot.

Born near Dunmanway in 1877 into a Church of Ireland family, Maguire rose through the ranks of the GAA, to become chairman of the London county board.

He became active in politics and recruited Michael Collins to the Irish Republican Brotherhood, acting as his intelligence officer in London for several years.

The Sam Maguire trophy, modelled on the Ardagh Chalice, was first presented in 1928, a year after Maguire’s death.

Rev Jeffers said: “We chose to install the Sam Maguire Community Bells as a way of remembering Sam Maguire, of telling his story, and the story of Dunmanway town through eight different themes.”

Each bell has been given a theme, through which the story of Maguire and the history of the town are told.

The themes, selected with the help of Dunmanway Historical Association, include sport, wars and revolution, agriculture, the people of Dunmanway, migration, religious traditions, education and arts, and industry and commerce.

Bishop Colton said as Ireland approaches another sequence of centenary commemorations (1918-1923), it is vital that we acknowledge the intervening 100 years.

“Our focus here in this diocese will be forward-looking with special attention to reconciliation and fostering relationships for today and the times ahead,” he said.

“This very imaginative community project which reaches out beyond the Church of Ireland parish to other churches, community groups, and national bodies does exactly these things.”

The new bells will be officially unveiled in early September.


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