At 7.05 on Sunday evening, 11th November, the bells of St Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral rang out to mark the centenary of the Armistice at the end of the First World War. A new band of ringers, assembled for the occasion,
took part in the nationwide ‘Battle’s Over’ commemoration.
It is some years since the Cathedral’s bells were rung. On receiving an invitation to take part in the Battle’s Over’ event, the Cathedral Board decided to have the bells overhauled and put in order. Mechanisms were greased, ropes repaired, the hammers re-balanced, and new ‘sallies’ fitted for the ringers to pull on. The ringers climbed the narrow steps of the tower for a first practice the day before, and all was ready to go.
The work was carried out by Gunning and Kavanagh, of Newcastle, Co. Down,
and was supported by a grant from Allchurches Trust.
The six original bells of the Cathedral were given by Archbishop Lindsay in 1721. Two more were added by Archbishop John George Beresford in 1841. The bells were originally mounted on wheels and rung ‘full circle’, as in the English bell-ringing tradition. In 1860, probably because not enough men (and men they would then have been!) were interested, the bells were re-hung for chiming. The bells now hang vertically, each one struck with a hammer.
It only takes one person to pull the ropes of all eight hammers.
The Very Revd Gregory Dunstan, Dean of Armagh, said, ‘The challenge to take part in ‘Battle’s Over’ was just what we needed to put the bells right. The Centenary of the Armistice was a hugely important occasion, marked across Britain, Europe and beyond. It wasn’t a big job, but a little bit of money well-spent has restored a neglected part of the heritage of both Cathedral and City. Now there is a new enthusiasm to keep the bells going and to ring them before the main service on Sunday morning’.