Cathedral's latest bells to create a world record

Dublin's Christ Church Cathedral is to create a world record by installing seven new bells - bringing its total number of swinging…

Dublin's Christ Church Cathedral is to create a world record by installing seven new bells - bringing its total number of swinging bells to 19 which will all ring in the new year at midnight on December 31st.

The addition of the bells gives Christ Church the greatest number of bells being rung for "change ringing" anywhere in the world. Change ringing is where different "peals" or sequences of bells are rung out at the same time.

It will also be the greatest number of bells ever rung out over Dublin from one church and brings the history of bell ringing at Christ Church to just under 1,000 years of unbroken service.

The new bells, which have been cast by Taylor's Foundry in Leicestershire and are due to be delivered to Christ Church early this month, will uniquely provide three 12-bell peals as well as the first peals of 14 and 16 bells in Ireland.


They are expected to be installed once they have been blessed by Archbishop Walton Empey and will be heard for the first time during practice sessions in September.

On New Year's Eve 1999, the old millennium will be rung out on the old octave, excluding any of the new bells, and the new millennium rung in with all the bells. Six of the new bells are inscribed with the opening words of psalms while one has peace to all men inscribed in Latin. This is to be known as the Peace Bell, expressing the desire for the ending of strife in Ireland and across the world.

With the addition of the new bells, the bells of Christ Church will range from 2.25 tons to four hundredweight. They will represent a tradition of bell-ringing going back to 1038 when Christ Church had at least one bell, according to head ringer Mr Leslie Taylor.

Christ Church, or its bells, were improved every century beginning with the erection of a new stone tower in 1170. In 1283 the tower was again rebuilt - along with its bell. By 1330 the tower cracked and was rebuilt again and in 1400 history records that three large bells were placed in the tower.

In 1564 the pillars of the tower were strengthened, while in 1603 three bells were recast following an explosion at Wood Quay. In 1670 six bells were cast for the church while by 1738 there was a perceived need for eight new bells. The church was expanding its bell ringing all the time and by 1878 more bells were added, bringing the total to 12. In 1979 the entire peal was dismantled and taken to Loughborough for retuning and refitting.

Four years ago, Christ Church acquired the bell from St Andrew's Church in Dublin when that church was converted to a tourism information centre. The bell was placed at the centre of Christ Church's peal and while it doesn't swing - and therefore is not counted among the 19 "swinging" bells - it can be struck by an electronic hammer which technically brings the total number of bells at Christ Church for the new millennium to 20.

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist