Saturday, 16 July 2016

Cathedral Donors

Inside Armagh's anglican cathedral, a stained-glass window above the West Door displays the armorial bearings of the ten principal donors during the great 1834 restoration of the building, viz.

  • 1st Earl O'Neill KP PC; 
  • Sir Thomas Molyneux Bt; 
  • Samuel Blacker; 
  • Maxwell Close; 
  • James Wood; 
  • Elias Elsler; 
  • Thomas Keers; 
  • Roger Hall; 
  • R Livingstone; 
  • Sir William Verner Bt MP.

Could Lord O'Neill's act of beneficence have been meant as a kind of atonement?

In 1566, Shane O'Neill ‘utterly destroyed the Cathedral by fire, lest the English should again lodge in it’.

In 1641, it again became a target for the O'Neills, when Sir Phelim O'Neill burned it.
Sir Phelim, incidentally, met his timely fate in 1653, when he was caught and executed on the orders of William, 5th Baron Charlemont, for the murder of his brother Toby, the 3rd Baron.
Perhaps a more plausible explanation is that, as a Knight of St Patrick, Lord O'Neill was well acquainted with the Prelate of the Order, Lord John Beresford, Lord Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland.

First published in May, 2013.

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