Ulster Society of
Organists and Choirmasters

Est. 1918.

March Visit to Mullingar and Longford Cathedrals

by | Friday, 21st June 2019

Fairly heavy rain greeted the members of USOC as they gathered at Malone Presbyterian Church on Saturday, 9th March 2019, to board the large, comfortable coach which was to carry us off to visit the cathedrals of Mullingar and Longford. A brief stop at Newry Train Station allowed us to pick up four of our members and then continue our journey to Mullingar via M1 and N52 for a 10.30am arrival.

The streets leading to and. fronting the Cathedral of Christ the King are quite narrow and render the parking of a Coach difficult so it was especially kind of our host, William Woods, Organist of the Cathedral since 2017, former boy chorister in the Palestrina Choir in Dublin’s Pro-Cathedral and first class honours graduate of Dublin Institute of Technology, to arrange to have the gates of the Cathedral opened to admit the Coach. The skill of our driver was very finely demonstrated as he manoeuvred the large vehicle through the ninety degree turn into the gates with literally a few inches to spare.

1936 Compton, refurbished in 1997 by WalkersThe Organ here, a 1936 Compton, refurbished in 1997 by Walkers, stands in the west gallery,Fairly heavy rain greeted the members of USOC as they gathered at Malone Presbyterian Church on Saturday, 9th March 2019, to board the large, comfortable coach which was to carry us off to visit the cathedrals of Mullingar and Longford. A brief stop at Newry Train Station allowed us to pick up four of our members and then continue our journey to Mullingar via M1 and N52 for a 10.30am arrival.

The streets leading to and. fronting the Cathedral of Christ the King are quite narrow and render the parking of a Coach difficult so it was especially kind of our host, William Woods, Organist of the Cathedral since 2017, former boy chorister in the Palestrina Choir in Dublin’s Pro-Cathedral and first class honours graduate of Dublin Institute of Technology, to arrange to have the gates of the Cathedral opened to admit the Coach. The skill of our driver was very finely demonstrated as he manoeuvred the large vehicle through the ninety degree turn into the gates with literally a few inches to spare.

The Organ here, a 1936 Compton, refurbished in 1997 by Walkers, stands in the west gallery, comprising over 80 stops from about sixteen ranks, each supplying between two and ten stops. There are three manuals and pedals, double touch pistons and a Crescendo pedal operating on the Great and Pedal stops.

The Organist demonstrated the impressive capacities of this instrument by playing Messiaen’s Les Enfants de Dieu, Tournemire’s 19th Sunday after Pentecost, Alleluiatique No.4 (from L’Orgue Mystique) and Reger’s Fugue in D major, Op 59. Then came the opportunity for members to view or play the instrument, followed by the expression of our thanks to the Organist and clergy for enabling such an enjoyable visit.

At precisely 11.30am, we boarded the coach again and made our way to Longford where a leisurely lunch awaited us in the spacious dining areas of the convenient Longford Arms Hotel. After lunch, there was plenty of time for a walk around the town and then meeting up in the vestibule of St Mel’s Cathedral. The Cathedral, built in the mid-nineteenth Century, had suffered badly from a fire on Christmas Day in 2009, the full effects of the disaster being vividly displayed in large photographs on the entrance walls. As well as inflicting severe damage on the interior, the fire destroyed the 28-stop 2-manual Kenneth Jones instrument there.

The new Ruffatti Organ, sited on the liturgically south wall of the church with detached console at floor level, was built in 2015. It is a three manual and pedal instrument having in excess of forty stops with various couplers and electric action.

Former School principal, Fintan Farrell, Organist of St Mel’s, introduced the organ to us and Illustrated its very considerable capacities to us by playing Franck’s Chorale No 1 in E major followed by J S Bach’s Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor. As in Mullingar Cathedral, members of the party were invited to view and or play the instrument here, while others were taken on a guided tour of the building. Our gratitude was expressed to our hosts for their kindness in affording us the opportunity to pay a visit to this splendid church.

After what had been an extremely enjoyable visit to these superb buildings and two very interesting instruments, we boarded our comfortable coach at 4.15pm and set out for home. A brief and very welcome coffee/comfort stop on the M1 northwards allowed us to pause at Newry Train Station and then complete a brisk canter back to Malone Presbyterian Church, thus ending a most enjoyable excursion.

The Society offers its warmest thanks to Malone Presbyterian Church for their kindness in allowing us to use their car parking facilities, to the organists, clergy and authorities of these two fine cathedrals for making us feel so welcome and for the time and trouble taken to facilitate our visit.

M R Tregenna comprising over 80 stops from about sixteen ranks, each supplying between two and ten stops. There are three manuals and pedals, double touch pistons and a Crescendo pedal operating on the Great and Pedal stops.

The Organist demonstrated the impressive capacities of this instrument by playing Messiaen’s Les Enfants de Dieu, Tournemire’s 19th Sunday after Pentecost, Alleluiatique No.4 (from L’Orgue Mystique) and Reger’s Fugue in D major, Op 59. Then came the opportunity for members to view or play the instrument, followed by the expression of our thanks to the Organist and clergy for enabling such an enjoyable visit.

At precisely 11.30am, we boarded the coach again and made our way to Longford where a leisurely lunch awaited us in the spacious dining areas of the convenient Longford Arms Hotel. After lunch, there was plenty of time for a walk around the town and then meeting up in the vestibule of St Mel’s Cathedral. The Cathedral, built in the mid-nineteenth Century, had suffered badly from a fire on Christmas Day in 2009, the full effects of the disaster being vividly displayed in large photographs on the entrance walls. As well as inflicting severe damage on the interior, the fire destroyed the 28-stop 2-manual Kenneth Jones instrument there.

The new Ruffatti Organ, sited on the liturgically south wall of the church with detached console at floor level, was built in 2015. It is a three manual and pedal instrument having in excess of forty stops with various couplers and electric action.

Former School principal, Fintan Farrell, Organist of St Mel’s, introduced the organ to us and Illustrated its very considerable capacities to us by playing Franck’s Chorale No 1 in E major followed by J S Bach’s Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor. As in Mullingar Cathedral, members of the party were invited to view and or play the instrument here, while others were taken on a guided tour of the building. Our gratitude was expressed to our hosts for their kindness in affording us the opportunity to pay a visit to this splendid church.

March Visit to Mullingar and Longford Cathedrals

After what had been an extremely enjoyable visit to these superb buildings and two very interesting instruments, we boarded our comfortable coach at 4.15pm and set out for home. A brief and very welcome coffee/comfort stop on the M1 northwards allowed us to pause at Newry Train Station and then complete a brisk canter back to Malone Presbyterian Church, thus ending a most enjoyable excursion.

The Society offers its warmest thanks to Malone Presbyterian Church for their kindness in allowing us to use their car parking facilities, to the organists, clergy and authorities of these two fine cathedrals for making us feel so welcome and for the time and trouble taken to facilitate our visit.

M R Tregenna

Ulster Society for
Organists and Choirmasters

Est. 1918.