THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: Dean Belfast on a “great chance which was missed”

From the News Letter, June 8, 1932

Tuesday, 8th June 2021, 6:00 am
St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast. Picture: News Letter archives

The Dean of Belfast, Very Reverend H R Brett, MA, speaking at the annual meeting of the Cathedral Guild Belfast, the previous day, said that had the money been forthcoming they might have marked the 1,500th anniversary of St Patrick’s landing in Ireland by purchasing the property which was not long ago vacant and made beautiful square in front of the cathedral.

He said: “We have missed the chance of doing what our City fathers might very well have done.”

The Dean went on to say that a sum of £25,000 was required to start further extensions, and it was comforting to know that a gentleman was ready to give substantial help in this connection.

“The Cathedral Guild was founded in 1894,” he said. “and we have, I think, the credit of being the first body in the United Kingdom to start such a guild.

“When I see the surprising amount of money contributed at Liverpool, Canterbury and elsewhere towards cathedral funds, regret that, comparatively, so little is done for our cathedral. This is no discredit of what has been done by the members here. Though small in membership the guild has a record which is entirely honourable.”

Master Meglaughlin said he did not think there was enough interest throughout the city in the guild.

“People,” he said, “tend to concentrate on the church to which they belong. But it should be remembered that this is our cathedral and that to take lively interest does not signify lack of loyalty to our own particular church.”

The Bishop of Warrington (The Right Reverend Dr Gresford Jones) spoke of the need for faith, propaganda, and determination the work for cathedral extension.

He said: “You must keep your public fed from time to time with such publications as that of the Recorder of Belfast, so that they will begin to feel there is something on foot.”

As to determination, he instanced a cathedral built in Uganda, “almost on a swamp without the assistance of modern marvels of engineering”.

He said: “Here was the resolution that nothing but the best can be given, and its accomplishment by holding fast to faith.”

The Lord Bishop of Down and Connor and Dromore (the Right Reverend Dr Grieresn), who presided, said that the Cathedral had passed through times of anxiety, “but the growth at all times had been of steady nature”.

He recalled how the idea of the cathedral was first mooted in 1894 by the Vicar Belfast.

He said: “The foundation stone was laid in 1890, and it was consecrated in 1904. Since then, wonders have been worked.

“We owe to the Dean of Belfast a debt of gratitude for the wonders he has wrought. It is not easy to get people to give liberally, but he has inspired confidence in everyone with whom he has come in contact.”

The Bishop concluded with appeal for assistance and “for more intensive interest in the cathedral”.