On Wednesday 29th March a large crowd gathered in St Michael & All Angels' Church, Castlecaulfield,
for a Service of Thanksgiving and Dedication. The service marked the completion of the rebuilding of the historic Wilkinson organ, which has served the church week by week for 124 years.
The organ was installed in 1893 in memory of the Revd Benjamin White-Spunner, and the original cost was £229. After almost a century and a quarter of continuous use, it was in need of a major refurbishment, and the cost today was quite different - approximately £35,000 + VAT!
Work began in July 2016, by Wells Kennedy partnership, Lisburn. Part of the organ was playable just before Christmas in time for a broadcast on RTE radio, and the final pipes installed earlier in March, just in time for the dedication.
The organ is unique in that it is the only instrument by Wilkinson (a firm based in Kendal, England) ever built in Northern Ireland. During the service gifts were presented and dedicated in memory of the late Glennis Allen,
a lifelong and faithful member of the choir, by her husband and family.
The service was conducted by the rector, the Revd Dr Peter Thompson, the dedication was performed by the Primate, Archbishop Richard Clarke, and the preacher was the Dean of St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, the Very Revd
Dr William Morton. Following the service there was a short organ recital to display the versatility of the wonderfully restored instrument by the Rector, culminating with a thrilling performance of Widor's famous Toccata by the parish choir and organ.
A series of musical events are planned for the coming year, beginning on Sunday 7 May with an evening of Gospel Hymns and Organ Recital.