Bells of Shankill a welcome fixture to ring in the new year

Ringing in the New Year are Wendy Gardiner, Denis Johnston, Jill Castles, William Dumigan and Leslie Wylie.
Ringing in the New Year are Wendy Gardiner, Denis Johnston, Jill Castles, William Dumigan and Leslie Wylie.

As the town rang in the New Year, bell ringers at Shankill Parish were busy providing the chimes with which to greet 2014.

The team of bell ringers began sounding the eight bells of Shankill at 11pm and after a pause for the Watchnight Service they began again at midnight to herald the start to the new year.

Their chimes were heard all over Lurgan as people toasted the end of one year and the beginning of the next, some perhaps oblivious from where the sound was resonating.

A dedicated team of bell ringers lead by Jill Castles welcome and encourage parishioners to Shankill every Sunday and of course on New Year’s Eve.

Bells make a daily statement that the church is alive and well in the local community; the melodious sound of cast bronze church bells is timeless.

So next time you hear those bells ring remember there is a very gifted team behind them.

The bells were introduced in 1875 when James Ussher, solicitor, partner in the firm Ussher and Watson, Lurgan, decided to provide a ring of eight bells for The Church of Christ the Redeemer (Shankill Parish).

His task was a hard one. Work at the time was very scarce, and money difficult to come by.

People were critical saying it was inopportune to start such a fund, but he went ahead, writing to former parishioners and newspapers, etc.

In 1876 a huge effort to complete the scheme was made.

In Samuel White’s monthly ‘Advertiser’ for the November of the year he wrote, “James Ussher the indefatigable Honorary Secretary and Treasurer of the Lurgan Peal of Bells Committee, has succeeded in collecting approximately £600 in the parish within the past few weeks.

“We congratulate Mr Ussher on his success so far and hope to be able to announce in our next issue that he has finished his voluntary collecting campaign in a manner satisfactory to himself and lovers of campanology.”