Most people when they hear the bells in Taney think they are automatic, but in fact they are rung by hand. Taney is one of only five towers in Dublin where people ring bells. And Taney needs more ringers to keep them going. So maybe you have just retired, maybe you are looking for a new hobby, maybe you have someone who would like to do the An Gaisce awards through bellringing. Come to Taney and try something you have never done before! You can contact Taney bell ringers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0863570842.
Once you know how to ring in Taney you can pretty much ring in any tower that has full circle bells – ie similar to the bells in Taney. When you pull the bell rope, the bell rotates 360 degrees, hence ‘full circle’ ringing.
Many of our ringers also ring in St. Patrick’s Dublin, Christ Church Dublin and Drogheda on a regular basis, and sometimes we go further afield. Recently, trips have been organised by the bell ringing community in Ireland to various parts of England. These trips involve ringing in five or six towers during a weekend. In return, we host visiting towers, and in 2017 Taney hosted ringers from Sussex in April and the UK Guild of Clerical Ringers joined us for Monday night practice last September.
As well as Sunday ringing and fancy exotic foreign trips, we practice for bell ringing competitions that take place, typically in the March and May time frame. Taney is the current, and proud, holder of the Eastern District Cup and the All-Ireland Cup. We have won the Eastern district competition four times in our short existence, and the All Ireland competition once.
Update September 2020
Ah, the excitement of it all! We were happily preparing for the Lindoff Cup bell ringing competition which would take place in Christ Church, Bray in mid-March and had secured some extra practices in their tower thanks to the help of Rev'd Baden Stanley. Then a few days before the competition was to take place, a discussion opened up in our own tower one night after practice. The result of that discussion was that some of our bell ringers were not comfortable with taking part in the Lindoff Cup because of Covid19 and so one complete team pulled out of the competition. Within the next 24 hours, news came through that the competition was postponed until further notice due to the coronavirus. This was promptly followed by all service rings and practices being cancelled at that time as the nation was encouraged to stay home and stay safe.
I have to say that I, and other bell ringers, found this to be a difficult time…to go from meeting with our bell ringing family and ringing bells a few times a week, to suddenly not seeing each other and not being able to ring the bells at all.
We have a great team at the moment in Taney tower and we kept in contact by our WhatsApp group. Memories of bell ringing trips in the past were posted to keep us hopeful that we would have more trips some time in the future. Some posted photos of what was keeping them occupied in Covid times…puzzles, quail eggs hatching, knitting, the activities of the swans at the pond in the local park, humorous memes to add lighthearted moments to the lengthy days, a Scouts badge received for bell ringing goals reached. We enjoyed videos of doorstep chats with one of our team who was cocooning, another singing a song to us, another enjoying peace and quiet in their shed heaven and another sharing bell ringing websites he had found helpful. We sympathized with those who had lost loved ones. We were thankful for Rev'd Nigel’s text to keep in contact with us to see if we were all ok. Sometimes there was a glimmer of hope…some churches in Northern Ireland were ringing on Fridays at 12 noon in recognition of the amazing job the frontline workers were doing. We hoped that maybe we could join in too but alas that was not meant to be at that time.
About two months into the pandemic restrictions, we heard about a virtual ringing room. This was a joint venture by two bell ringers from Boston, Massachusetts who developed the online site so change ringers could continue to ring with one another even when socially distanced. We found this to be a brilliant way of keeping our skills honed while keeping in contact with each other. The Ringing Room site was featured on BBC in May. On the site, you can choose 4, 6, 8, 10 or 12 bell ropes or handbells and these are rung by pressing the computer keypad or mouse. With great wisdom and foresight, it was suggested that we concentrate on Minimus (4 ropes) methods as the reality was that when we returned to ringing we would only be able to have 4 ringers in the tower due to social distancing. There is no audio in the Ringing Room for speaking to each other so we used WhatsApp for communication initially but then progressed to splitting our screens with Google Meet on one side and the Ringing Room on the other.
Leo Varadkar’s comforting words on 5th June brought tears to my eyes. He said “In the end it’s only a passing thing, the shadow, even darkness must pass. A new day will come and when the sun shines it will shine out all the clearer. That new day is now approaching.”
That new day approached for us in early June when we got the great news from Canon Robert and Rev'd Nigel that subject to one or two amendments, they were very happy with the Health and Safety statement we had ready for when we could return to bell ringing. We were so thankful for their support.
It was such a privilege to ring the bells for the service led by Archbishop Michael Jackson in Taney on 29th June when churches were allowed to reopen with limited numbers. We only rang 4 bells because of social distancing but we were so glad to be back in the tower again ringing with the new ropes that had been blessed earlier this year.
We are currently ringing only 4 bells, sanitize our hands before, after and during a bell ringing session and we wear masks. For health reasons, we cannot speak out call changes unless we wear a mask and visor so someone came up with the ingenious idea of playing the call changes from a mobile phone through a speaker. Last month, Cyril Galbraith recorded call changes and we played this mobile recording through the speaker for a Sunday service ring. We have a wedding to ring for this weekend, and an outdoor handbell practice.
Until next time, keep safe.
Helen Little - Assistant Ringing Master
Update December 2019
On 31st August, all the planning over the previous months came to fruition as the first Galbraith Cup competition took place at Christ Church, Taney. Bell ringers from all over the country came to take part in this competition which was set up in recognition of Cyril Galbraith’s amazing 80 years of bell ringing. People came from many places including Cork, Limerick, Drogheda, Blessington, Bangor, Co. Down and many parts of Dublin to join in this fun competition for bell ringers of all levels. The BBQ was kept going throughout the day with lots of tasty burgers, salmon, marinated lamb and chicken being cooked. Thankfully the weather was better than predicted so people could sit outside on benches and enjoy the food and chat.
You know me, I love the stories that you hear when chatting to different people! One man told me he hadn’t seen someone for about 50 years since he left Limerick and he was delighted see her there that day and say hello with a big hug. Indoors, people sat at the tables and talked while they waited for their team to be called. The teams were randomly chosen with each team consisting of an experienced person who could call the changes for the team, some intermediate levels and beginners too. The teams were further mixed by people from different towers who had never rung together before but rang together for the competition. Cyril chose Julia Lysaght and Jean Jeffrey to judge the competition with him that day. Compliments were flying, with people saying how relaxed the afternoon was...what a great welcome they received...overwhelmed by the friendship...best organised event. It was great to see people enjoying themselves.
Just as the last team was finishing their bell ringing in the tower, a very special guest walked into the grounds of Taney Church with Canon Robert Warren. Our extra special guest had written to Cyril earlier in the year when Cyril had been in newspapers because of his bell ringing record. We had contacted his office in the months prior to the Galbraith Cup competition and were delighted when we heard that Archbishop Michael Jackson would be able to come along and present the Galbraith Cup. It was lovely to see that moment when Cyril met the Archbishop. Some of us then went up to the tower for a photo shoot. The Independent newspaper was there and also the Archbishop’s PR person. There was lots of clicking of cameras as the Archbishop presented Cyril with a gift. Cyril also had his photo taken with our youngest bell ringers. Shortly, we got a message to say the group waiting to hear who had won the competition were getting restless in the Parish Centre and some were thinking of leaving. So we headed over there as quickly as possible and a small group of bell ringers played the handbells as the Archbishop, Canon Robert Warren, Rev’d Nigel Pierpoint and Cyril all came into the room and took their places in the seats facing the group. Speeches followed by Darrell who spoke about Cyril’s time in Limerick and Kieron Brislane had brought a gift from Rev’d Niall Sloane in Limerick and presented it to Cyril. Canon Warren spoke about Cyril’s contribution to the bells in Taney and also Cyril as a parishioner and Cyril gave an emotional speech. The moment came for the winning team to be presented with the Cup. The Archbishop gave a speech, presented the Cup and also certificates to each of the winning team. There were two additional certificates presented to the youngest bell ringers taking part that day. It was a wonderful day of fun, friendship, celebration, relaxation and teamwork. A great memory of the first of many Galbraith Cup competitions where bell ringers from all over the country can enjoy this competition.
Assistant Ringing Master
Update September 2019
Earlier this year, the Bell Ringers were asked if we would look after the Granny’s Attic stall at the Taney Fête. Having not helped out with this before, we thought that meant we would be arriving slightly before 1pm to the stall that had been set up for us and that at 4pm we would be free to go as someone else would be clearing away any items not sold. There was a gradual dawning that this was not the case! We would be in charge of setting up the stall, running it on the day and clearing away afterwards, just like other stall holders. It all turned out fine as we had a team of Bell Ringers eager to help out. We met on Friday night to sort out the tent-load of kindly donated, good quality items. On Saturday, we had some of our team wheeling and dealing as items were sold to happy customers. I always love to hear people’s stories. One young mother told me that before coming to the Fête, she and her husband had been shopping for a bicycle for their two-year-old son. They had chosen one bicycle in the shop but didn’t buy it until seeing what was at the Fête. It turned out they got the same bicycle, second-hand, for a fraction of the price they would have paid for the bicycle (new) in the store. They were very happy! While sales were going well at the Granny’s Attic tent, some others from our team were helping out in the tower as we had opened it for anyone who was interested to come and hear about the bells. For most of the afternoon, we had a queue of people ready to go up to the tower in small groups to hear about the bells, to have an opportunity to ring a bell supervised and to ask questions about the bells or bell ringing. It was a very enjoyable afternoon. As the service ring came to a conclusion on Sunday 16th June, one of our band members reminded us that it was Bloomsday - a day set aside to celebrate the life of James Joyce. Over the next few minutes, he gave a brief talk about the connection between James Joyce’s novel ‘Ulysses’ which is set on the 16th June 1904, and the bells of St. George’s Church (Hardwicke Place, near Eccles Street) which of course are the bells we ring in Taney now. The bells of St. George’s are heard by Leopold Bloom in Ulysses at several times from his garden in 7 Eccles Street in the morning of 16th June 1904. One of these times is 9.00am when he hears the bell striking the hour…”A creak and a dark whirr, high up…tolled the hour…loud dark iron…the overtone following.” In some of the later chapters, he uses the term “Heigho! Heigho!, Heigho! Heigho! to refer to the sound he hears coming from the St. George’s bells to mark the hour. Hearing about how the St. George’s bells have been immortalised by James Joyce in Ulysses and thinking of the connection that we had been ringing those very same bells on 16th June 2019 was a very special moment.
We are thrilled to have our new website up and running and are thankful to a cousin of one of our Bell Ringers who has been busy over the last month or so putting together all the information and photographs you will find on the website. It can be found at https://taneybellringers.wixsite.com/mysite-1
Update June 2019
What a whirlwind of a month April was for the team of bell ringers in the tower! It all started calmly one evening after bellringing practice. Brian, our Ringing Master, told us about a new competition and cup which was going to be introduced to mark Cyril Galbraith’s amazing achievement of ringing bells for 80 years. How could that not be acknowledged and celebrated? It would be intended that the new, fun, annual competition would be open to bellringers countrywide and the winners would be presented with the Cyril Galbraith Cup. We had arranged to see the Lord Mayor in the Mansion House on 9th April and it was hoped that he would present Cyril with the cup. The Tower made contact with local and national media outlets and over the next week, there were articles and interviews with the Irish Times, the Herald, RTĒ news, the Ray D’arcy show and Newstalk with Pat Kenny (Henry McKean came out to the tower for the interviews). It all happened so quickly and everyone willingly helped out by coming along at short notice to the interviews and photo shoots when needed. Thanks to Robert Warren for his support in this too. Cyril was front page news in the Irish Times within a few days and he took it all in his stride. The Six O’Clock show on Virgin Media also picked up the story and ran with it the following week. Cyril coped so well with all the media attention and an extra special surprise was when the Archbishop of Dublin, Rev’d Dr. Michael Jackson, wrote to congratulate him on his 80 years’ bellringing achievement. The week after all the media attention, 22 bellringers from Taney went to the Mansion House to meet the Lord Mayor, Niall Ring. We were delighted to have Robert Warren with us that evening. Una Caulfield, a bellringer from Christ Church Cathedral, had organised this special event and the invite included ringers from all towers. We enjoyed an interesting humorous speech from the Lord Mayor as he told us some of the history of the Mansion House and previous Lord Mayors. Following this, he presented the Cup to Cyril in his name. Two of Cyril’s sons, David and Peter, were there to see this special moment.
Update Easter 2019
The recent Taney Bellringers AGM saw some changes to the officer positions that run the Taney Bellringers Association. Both Darrell Brislane (Ringing Master) and Kate Shearer (Asst. Ringing Master) have stepped down from their positions. We say a big thank you to Darrell and Kate for their stewardship over the past three years. Brian McCann (Ringing Master) and Helen Little (Asst. Ringing Master) were duly elected to these positions for the year(s) to come. We offer a noisy congratulations to Brian and Helen as they take up the mantle. Paul Scott (Secretary), Brendan Donlon (Treasurer) and Joe Kealy (Steeple Keeper) were re-elected to their respective positions unopposed.
New Year’s Eve Ring 2019
For the third time in a row, the Taney bellringers assembled on a cold 31st December to ring out 2018 and see in 2019 with a usual tuneful noise. The word must be getting around about this new tradition for Taney as we had a number of hardy people turn up outside the church to hear the bells ring in the new year. Next year, we might even invite them in to the tower! At the stroke of midnight, the Tenor (heaviest) bell tolled 12 times after which the full peal of eight bells then rang out over Dundrum for 20 minutes to welcome in 2019. Ringers that night included (L to R in photo) Helen Little, Maria Campbell, Catherine Yeo, Eugene Carr, Darrell Brislane, Paul Scott, Stephen Yeo and Brian McCann.
Eastern District Bellringing Striking Competition (Lindoff Cup).
On 9th March, the Taney bellringers took part in the Eastern District Striking competition (Lindoff Cup). The competition took place in St. Mary’s in Blessington which has the oldest surviving set of bells in the country. The six bells were installed in St. Mary’s in 1683. With a team consisting of six ringers instead of the usual eight, this allowed Taney to enter three teams, which is a testament to the number of new ringers that have started to ring in Taney in recent times. We are very thankful to Michael Ryan for his tireless efforts at regularly recruiting new bellringers for Taney. Including the three teams from Taney, the competition ended up with nine competing teams, including two from St Patrick’s Cathedral Dublin, two from Christ Church Cathedral Dublin and one each from St Peter’s Drogheda and Blessington.
A competition for bellringing might sound a bit strange but it’s a standard part of the bellringing calendar here in Ireland and across the UK. Basically, you are judged on your ability to ring with the six bells in a steady tempo avoiding things like two bells ringing at the same time (clash), two bells with no gap between them (clip) or leaving too long of a gap between them (gap!). This tempo, coupled with the need to call 30 changes (when the conductor moves the bells’ sequence around within an allowed 10-minute time frame), all forms part of what you are judged on. It can get quite competitive!
St. Patrick’s ‘A’ team won the competition with Christ Church Cathedral in second place and the Taney ‘A’ team coming third. Third place allows us to go forward and compete in the All-Ireland competition that takes place in late May. In the All-Ireland, the three Eastern District teams mentioned above will compete against each other and the winning towers of the equivalent Southern and Northern districts. Fingers crossed!
Bellringers trip to Surrey - September 2018
On Friday 7th September 2018, 11 bell ringers headed off to Surrey for a weekend. Seven of the group were from St Mary’s Cathedral in Limerick and four of us were from Christ Church, Taney. Darrell Brislane’s brother, Kieron, had been busy in the previous weeks organising a busy itinerary for us.
On Saturday, we rang in three churches all within a short distance of each other. The first one was St Nicholas, Godstone which is on a narrow county lane about half a mile from the village of Godstone.This beautiful church was restored in the 1870s by a man called Gilbert Scott and as we parked the cars we were immediately drawn to the beauty of the decorative, Tudor-style almshouses next to the church. There were eight bells in this tower and the tenor weighed 12cwt which is quite light. Everyone got a chance to ring the bells.
About three miles away was the second church, St Mary the Virgin, an Anglican parish church in Oxted, East Surrey. We arrived on a day when they were having a church open day so we received a very warm welcome. There were church members on duty who were glad to answer our questions about the church and its history. There was a small spiral staircase at the back of the church that led up to the six bells. It was good to experience ringing a variety of bells in the towers, although some of us were very keen to get back down those stairs after the bell ringing to sample the delicious cakes and goodies on sale to raise funds for the church.
By 12 noon, we were at our next church, St Peter, Limpsfield. An Anglican church that dates back to 1180. While we were waiting for someone to come along and let us into the tower we were given the opportunity to wander around the graveyard and to see the graves of a number of famous musicians, including Frederick Delius (composer), Sir Thomas Beecham (conductor) and Beatrice Harrison (cellist). The tower had six bells and the heaviest (tenor) weighed 15cwt.
After our morning ringing bells and travelling from church to church through the beautiful countryside, we were ready for our lunch at the ‘Grasshopper on the Green’ restaurant. The restaurant is beside the Churchill Statue which led us to our afternoon activity of visiting Chartwell, which was Winston Churchill’s home for about 40 years. It is an amazing place. In each room, there were volunteers to tell us about Churchill’s paintings (over 380), writings (55 books) and his life with his family. The rooms are decorated with memorabilia, gifts, the original furniture and some of Churchill’s many books (from his collection of 5,000) as well as honours and medals received by him. The views of the countryside from the terraced lawn are stunning. It was easy to imagine Churchill and his family enjoying this beautiful place. We also had some time to explore the Rose Garden, the Vegetable Garden, and to see the lakes and the croquet lawn. It was such a peaceful place to visit.
Before our weekend away, Kieron had emailed us the menu for the restaurant we would be eating in on the Saturday evening. We had a choice of two restaurants and The Bell Inn was chosen. Sure where else would you eat on a bell ringing weekend? There was a table ready for us and the food was served swiftly…pan fried salmon with creamed leeks, thyme-roasted chicken, leg of lamb steak; it was all mouth-watering and tasty. All this was followed by the temptation of Eton Mess or Apple Crumble. This restaurant deserves every good review it gets!
On Sunday, we rang the bells in Holy Trinity, Coleman’s Hatch in East Sussex. The bell tower has eight bells and these are rung for all services. The metal rungs of the outdoor ladder leading to the tower are not for the faint hearted and would be a bit tricky to negotiate on a frosty winter’s morning. However, it is worth making it up the ladder rungs to reach the bell chamber, to ring the bells and to see all the history recorded there on the wall plaques detailing peels (specific type of change ringing performance) with over 5,000 changes in three hours.
After lunch, our afternoon was spent gong back in time on the vintage steam train at Bluebell Railway in West Sussex. Thankfully our seats had been reserved or it would have been difficult to seat us all together. Each of the stations has been restored to the style of different eras and one of them, Horsted Keynes, will be familiar to those who have watched Downtown Abbey (some of the scenes were filmed there). It was fascinating to go into the steam engine room at the back of the train and to hear about some of the history of the train from one of the volunteers.
When our afternoon at the steam trains ended, it was straight to the airport for our flight home. It was a brilliant weekend all round and a great opportunity to ring the bells in different towers.I’m looking forward to the next bell ringing weekend away already!
New Year’s Eve Ring 2017
For the second time in a row, the Taney Bell-ringers were able to get a ringing band together on New Year’s Eve to ring out 2017 and see in 2018 with a cacophony of tuneful noise. At the stroke of midnight the Tenor (heaviest) bell tolled twelve times after which the full peal of eight bells then rang out over Dundrum for 20 minutes to welcome in 2018.
Ringers that night included (Back Row, L to R) Eugene Carr, Brian McCann, Joe Kealy, Darrell Brislane (Ringing Master), Roy Huber and Brendan Donlon. Seated L to R – Maria Campbell, Cyril Galbraith, and Helen Little. The occasion also allowed us to celebrate Cyril’s birthday hence the glasses of apple juice!
The Bells were the gift of the distinguished Dublin architect, Francis Johnston (1760 - 1829) who designed St George's Church in Hardwicke Street in 1802.
Johnston and his wife Anne resided in Eccles Street, which lay within the parish of St. George and were members of the church. To encourage campanology within the parish he and his wife presented ringing bells to St George's Church in 1828.
At the time when the bells were presented in 1828, St George's was numerically the largest parish in the Diocese of Dublin, as Taney parish is today. With the migration of parishioners from the inner city to the suburbs, St George's closed in April 1990 after 176 years of continuous worship. When the church building was sold by the Representative Church Body, the famous bells were not included in the sale. They were carefully dismantled and removed to safe storage. Mr Peter Hayward of Hayward Mills, Bells Consultants, Nottingham, England was contracted to supervise the work.
Among those who helped with the dismantling was Canon Desmond Sinnamon, Rector of Taney, who had been approached by bells enthusiasts about the possibility of using the tower of Christ Church, Taney as a new home for the old bells. Taney's youthful congregation had the promise of attracting ringers so ensuring the continuing tradition of bell ringing.
The fact that Taney Parish had a major commitment to its Parish Centre development during the 1990's meant the immediate prospect of re-hanging St George's Bells was curtailed. Thanks to the provision of long-term storage space by a parishioner of Taney, George Cooke, the bells were preserved in safety.
There was a firm belief that the fundraising challenge to install the Bells could be overcome. Vivien Hood, a member of the Select Vestry, was instrumental in the formation of a committee to explore the project in 1997 and to assess the issues involved, such as planning approval and the raising of the substantial sum that the job would entail - in the region of £60,000.
The Rector and Committee asked Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council for grant aid and applied for various Millennium, heritage and Better Ireland awards to raise the necessary funds. The Millennium year was seen as the opportunity to make the dream become a reality.
A fund raising scheme was launched by the Bells Committee at the Parish Centre in May 1999. Entitled 'A Millennium Opportunity', the scheme targeted the corporate sector and local businesses urging them to become involved in a unique Millennium restoration project by contributing either towards the overall cost or in sponsoring individual bells. The aim was to have the bells installed in Taney Church Tower in time to ring in the third Millennium of faith as a symbol of thanksgiving for our Christian Heritage and dedication to another era of faith.
There was a magnificent public response to the launch. A flood of letters and subscriptions were received from people at home and abroad who heard about the project. The Select Vestry gave the go- ahead to the Bells Committee to proceed and in September 1999 the Taney Change-Ringers Association was founded under the guidance of Cyril Galbraith, the first ringing master, with the support of ringers from St George's, St Patrick's Cathedral, St Audoen's and John's Lane.
It was a race against time to get the tower ready, to hoist and install the eight bells and to construct a new ringing gallery in time to ring in the New Millennium. It was an enormous job. The workmen described the stonework in the tower as the hardest they had ever encountered. Cyril Galbraith, Alan Hamilton and their team literally worked day and night to ensure that the Bells would be ready in time for the Millennium moment.
Few people present on the night of the 31st December 1999 will ever forget this most moving occasion as over a thousand people thronged in the Parish Centre and Church grounds to see in AD 2000. Cyril Galbraith, Ringing Master of Taney Change Ringers Society accepted a presentation on behalf of Taney and St George's Change Ringers who made their way to ring in the New Year to the huge cheers of the people. A short service to mark the millennium moment was conducted by the Rector, Canon Desmond Sinnamon, the Curate, Rev Bernadette Daly and the Parish Priest of Dundrum, Fr Donal O'Doherty.