Information on the Church of Ireland clergy of Ardmore is given by Rennison (Ref. 1.) from 1450 up to his own time in 1920. Unfortunately the book only gives the names and dates of incumbents and curates. This article tries to fill in some of the more interesting facts of each pastorate from the time the present church of St. Paul's was built, and of course gives details of the rectors who succeeded Mr. Rennison. Assistance was provided by a number of people in compiling this article including Ms Louisa Rennison, Rev. Desmond Warren and the present Rector in Youghal Rev. Sir .Dickon Durand. This is gratefully acknowledged.
John Bourke Wallace, Rector of Ardmore 1829 - 1871
Rev. John Bourke Wallace was the last rector of the cathedral church of Ardmore and the first rector of the new church of St. Paul's erected in 1838, In 1824 RYLAND (Ref. 2.) had this to say about Ardmore "The church near the round tower is now almost entirely gone into decay) a part of the chancel only being kept in repair and used for divine worship". The illustration In this article was drawn about 1822 and shows only the east end (chancel) of the church as roofed. The campaign for a new church got under way shortly after the appointment of J.B. Wallace as rector. It is recorded in the Ardmore vestry book (Ref. 3.) that a meeting was held in the church on Monday 20th July, 1829 "for the purpose of taking into consideration the repair of said church and also if deemed necessary to memorial the Board of First Fruits for a grant to erect a new one on another site".
These two tasks - repairing the old church and building the new church, occupied much of J.B. Wallace's time during his first decade as rector culminating on 15th September, 1841 when the present Church at Ardmore dedicated to St. Paul was consecrated. An account of these events is given by Lincoln (Ref. 4).
John Bourke Wallace was also the last rector of Ardmore to have a curate. One of the last curates was Rev Arthur Travers Borroughs who died In 1864 and is buried in the grounds of St. Paul's.
Canon Thomas Robert Rothwell, Rector of Ardmore 1871 - 1914
Canon Rothwell was rector of Ardmore for 43 years, one more than his predecessor, and during his pastorate great changes took place in the parish structure. Up to this time the parish was known as the Parish of Ardmore and Ballymacart. In 1885 on the death of Rev. Richard Woods Vicar, Grange was united with Ardmore. In 1910 Clashmore was added to form the Ardmore Union.
Canon Rothwell's first wife Anabella Sophia died in 1897. Her husband and children erected a plaque to her memory in St. Paul's Church where 'she conducted for 25 years to the praise of God, the musical portion of the service in this Church'.
Canon Rothwell remarried, his second wife Mary Lilian was a school friend of his daughter Ellen. The Canon retired as rector of Ardmore in 1914 and the family moved from the rectory to the house on the New Line/Top Road now owned by writer Molly Keane. Canon Rothwell died in 1915 and was buried in ArdmoreGraveyard. His wife Mary Lilian died in Waterford in 1963 aged 92 and was buried in Ardmore beside him.
An interesting story of Canon Rothwell's time relates to the Ardmore Chalice. The Ardmore Silver Chalice is 73 inches high by 31 inches diameter and was presented to the Parish of Ardmore by the Bishop of the Diocese Rev. Dr. Thomas Mills in 1726. Bishop Mills also added the slate roof to An Beannachan, St. Declan's oratory in 1716. The Chalice was lost in the rectorship of J.B. Wallace and from 1855 a silver plated chalice was used instead. No record exists as to how the Chalice disappeared. In 1899 the Ardmore Chalice reappeared in a London sale at Sothebys, and was purchased by Robert Day of Cork for £17. Canon Rothwell collected the money locally and from the Bishop, to buy back the Chalice. Day (Ref. 5) in his account of this states "I have now owing to the laudable exertions of the Rev. Canon Rothwell the pleasure of seeing the Chalice restored to its old home at Ardmore".
William Henry Rennison, Rector of Ardmore 1914 - 1921
Rev. W.H. Rennison was born in 1875, studied at Trinity College, was ordained in 1899 and married in 1901. While in Ardmore he lived in the rectory with his wife Mary Edith Rennison and their daughter Elizabeth Mary (Mollie). Mollie died in 1918 aged 8 years and II months. In 1919, the Rennison's second child Louisa was born. Her parents called her Elma from the first two letters of Elizabeth and Mary. Elma Rennison says her father was 'a kind man, a good father, and liked animals'. He kept a scrap book of all newspaper cuttings related to the family. Rev. W.H. Rennison was a keen historian and is best remembered as the author of "Succession List Of The Bishops , Cathedral and Parochial Clergy of the Dioceses of Waterford and Lismore" (1920) - an invaluable source book for present day local historians.
In 1921 W.H. Rennison was transferred to Portlaw and according to the Preachers Book (Ref 6) he took service at St. Paul's for the last time on Sunday 6th November, 1921. His popularity is indicated by the parishioners of Ardmore who to show their appreciation of his ministry presented him with an Address and Cheque part of which they desired to be spent on fees for the M.A, Degree at T.C.D. This he subsequently did. Mr. Rennison died in October 1927 aged 52 years. The death actually took place in Annestown near Tramore where the family were taking a late summer holiday. He was buried in Ardmore graveyard beside his daughter Mollie. His wife died in 1946 in London where Louisa Rennison now lives.
Rev. Albert Armstrong Burd, Rector of Ardmore 1922 - 1925
According to the Preachers Book of St. Paul's Sunday 29th January 1922 was the first Sunday of Service by the new rector Rev. A.A. Burd.
A.A. Burd was a T.C.D. Scholar, B.A. (Classics) 1876. He was headmaster at Midleton College and subsequently Assistant Master at Cork Grammar School.
He was rector of Templemichael and Kinsalebeg 1920 - 1922 and Ardmore 1922 - 1925. It was a time of further change, the Ardmore glebe land was sold and Templemichael Parish was amalgamated with the Ardmore Union.
The Easter Vestry Meeting of 1922 for Templemichael Parish was written up in the Ardmore Vestry Book due to "the keys having been carried off by raiders who plundered the house of the Rector Rev. A.A. Burd at Templemichael and the parish documents (being) ' inaccessible". The vestry members accepted as inevitable the amalgamation of Templemichael with Ardmore. They were unhappy however, with Ardmore being the centre of the new Union and the place of residence of the rector.
A short time later A.A. Burd wrote in the Vestry Book. "Note: June 20, 1922. A letter was sent to me by the Committee of the Relief Fund. The object of the fund is to relieve those of our church who are in immediate need and difficulty by reason of the present unrest. Owing to this unrest the number of persons residing at present in the parish is very small and hardly any summer visitors have come. Some in normal times well-to-do declined to contribute as being themselves great sufferers from the present troubles. All I could collect was £2-4-0., which I forwarded to the Committee of the Relief Fund and received their acknowledgement."
Rev A.A. Burd was unmarried, he lived in the rectory at Ardmore with his niece Miss Davie. It was a very difficult task looking after an enlarged parish, trying to effect further economies and protect church property during "The Troubles". Despite this a congregation of 25 attended his Harvest Festivals in September 1922 and 1923. He was only rector for the brief period of three years however, and according to the Preachers Book he took the service in Ardmore for the last time on Sunday 21st June 1925.
Mr Burd was somewhat eccentric and rather absentminded as the following story illustrates. One morning he left the rectory cycling to Kinsalebeg where he was due to take the Service. On the way however, he had a problem with his bicycle, and in sorting this out he turned the bicycle upside down. On fixing his bicycle he mounted it and rode off in the direction In which it was pointing, namely back to Ardmore. On arrival his niece, Miss Davie, remarked that he was back very early from the Service and he replied "What service?".
Rev. John Warren, Rector of Ardmore and Templemichael 1925 - 1948
Rev. John Warren, born in 1873 was a T.C.D. Scholar, B.A. 1897. He became a priest in 1900 and was curate in Northern Ireland and England for a few years. He wrote a number of books:
'Ireland (Cinderella Hibernica) And Her Fairy Godmother' (Dublin 1909),'The Biretta Blight' (Dublin 1914)'The Ardagh Chalice And The Witness It Bears' (Undated)
All are in the category of religious polemical works, containing criticisms of the Catholic Church, some equally valid today. Rev. J Warren was unmarried and first took service in Ardmore church on Sunday 28 June 1925. His nephew Rev Desmond Warren wrote about him as follows:
"This nephew remembers John Warren as a distinct eccentric and as one who was extremely frugal in his way of life. He calls to mind his wartime visits in springtime as a young student when he soon discovered the unchanging routine at The Rectory. Most of each day would be spent reading in the study, and these periods were interspersed with regular walks around Ardmore when he did his best to keep up with his long-legged uncle. These walks were carefully timed to coincide with people's mealtimes so that the uncle could go abroad unseen in his oldest clothes. No newspaper was ever bought, nor was there a wireless set in the house; so every evening at the appointed time he would make his way to .the home of a kind friend in the village and hear of the day's events on the radio there. When it was necessary to visit Youghal, there would be a brisk walk to Ferrypoint and over on the ferry; to go in by bus was considered the height of extravagance. In the summer months nearly the whole of the house would be let to holidaymakers, and he would make do with just two rooms - study and bedroom. One remembers not only his eccentric ways but also his great generosity."
Two rather amusing stories were told about Rev. J. Warren that should not go unrecorded. During his walks around Ardmore in the cold weather a favourite saying of his was "It's very raw" and so it was that he became known as "Very raw" locally. The following exchange is said to have taken place between himself and the Parish Priest Father Galvin on meeting one morning.
"Good morning Mr. Warren"
"Good morning Mr. Galvin"
During John Warren's pastorate church service at St Paul's was mainly confined to the period April (Easter) to October with a Christmas, service occasionally. The congregation usually numbered less than 10 in Winter months and more than 20 in Summer (August) rising on occasion to 50 e.g. on visit by Bishop. The Ardmore (Easter) Vestry Meeting took place each year and the minutes were duly written up in the Vestry Book. These meetings took place at Templemichael and those present were Captain and Mrs Holroyd Smith, Mr. Jas. Alien with the Rector presiding. At these meetings the Offertories at Ardmore and Templemichael Church were reviewed. These were about £10 each per year and just about paid for the cleaning, repairs and insurance in each case. When John Warren sold his car to Mr. Jas Alien one of the conditions of sale was that Mr. Alien would drive him each year to the Vestry meeting.
Rev. John Warren was the last resident rector of Ardmore. It was the end of an era when he died aged 74, in 1948. He died at Killucan where his brother Rev. Robert Warren was rector and was buried there. The Ardmore Rectory was sold by the Church of Ireland. It was bought by Rev. Robert Warren, John's brother, who on retiring settled in Ardmore. Rev. Robert Warren and his wife Amy Beatrice are buried in the grounds of St Paul's Church Ardmore.
Text: James T. Quain
Scanned By: Marc Sullivan & Eileen Fraher Sullivan
Author: Siobhán Lincoln