Billy Kennedy on churches: Presbyterian moderator takes part in Dublin memorial
Presbyterians number just over 13,000 in the 26 southern counties, mostly concentrated in the Ulster border counties of Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal, where the flame of Presbyterianism remains strong and active, with faith and cultural roots dating back to the 17th century Scottish Plantation of Ulster.
There are three presbyteries in the Republic — Monaghan, which administers for 34 congregation, Dublin/Munster (33 congregations), and Donegal in the north-west which partners with Derry with 33 congregations.
The Donegal congregations also have a very pronounced historical and cultural Ulster-Scots identity, which they share with kinsfolk in Northern Ireland.
The Presbyterian identity in the Irish Republic was officially recognised last weekend when the new Church moderator — Portrush cleric the Rev Dr John Kirkpatrick — attended and participated in with other faith leaders in the Republic’s ‘National Day of Commemoration’ in Dublin.
This annual event remembers Irishmen and Irish women who lost their lives in past wars, or on service internationally with the Irish Defence Forces with the United Nations over more recent decades.
The Republic’s president Michael D. Higgins led the commemoration and laid a wreath which was followed by a minute’s silence as part of a Christian act of worship. Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Micheal Martin also took part in the event.
Dr Kirkpatrick said: “It is an honour and a privilege to be able to represent Presbyterians from across Ireland at this important act of remembrance and say the closing prayer during the Christian act of worship.”
Among those remembered were Irishmen and Irishwomen who paid the ultimate price in the Great War of 1914-19 and the Second World War of 1939-45.
“We also remember the 87 service personnel who paid the same high price on the many international peace-keeping tours that the Irish Defence Forces conducted and continue to conduct in numerous countries with the United Nations,” said Dr Kirkpatrick.
He addded: “We acknowledge above all the love of God encountered in the Lord Jesus Christ who came not to be served but to serve and give His life a ransom for many.
“May He who has walked the darkest valley with us and for us, who for love of enemy has laid down His life, inspire and unite this and future generations under the beauty and vision of His gracious and lasting hope. This is very poignant occasion and I am glad to be able to take part in it on behalf of my church.”