Funeral of 97 year old ‘bell-ringer extraordinaire’ takes place in Dublin

Cyril Galbraith began bell-ringing in 1939 at St Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick

The Most Reverend Michael Jackson, Archbishop of Dublin speaking to members of the Galbraith family before the Funeral of Cyril Galbraith, the oldest bell ringer in Ireland, at Christ Church, Taney, Dundrum, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

The Most Reverend Michael Jackson, Archbishop of Dublin speaking to members of the Galbraith family before the Funeral of Cyril Galbraith, the oldest bell ringer in Ireland, at Christ Church, Taney, Dundrum, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

 

The funeral of Ireland’s oldest bell-ringer Cyril Galbraith (97) on Monday was told that he was “always amused at the fact that he was retired longer than he had worked and that he would break the company financially with his monthly pension, which he received for over 40 years”.

Mr Galbraith died in St Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin, last Wednesday and had been ringing church bells since he was 15, latterly at Taney Church of Ireland parish in Dublin’s Dundrum.

After almost 30 years ringing the bells at St Mary’s Cathedral (from 1939) in his native Limerick, his job with pharmaceutical company Wellcome saw him transferred to Dublin in 1968. He continued bell-ringing at St Patrick’s Cathedral before taking up the role at Taney as stairs to its bell tower were less demanding.

While “involved in many sports throughout his life,” bell ringing “or campanology as the knowledgeable people know it, was a big part of Dad’s life culminating in an article and photograph on the front page of The Irish Times celebrating 80 years of him bell-ringing,” recalled said his son Robert at the funeral service in Taney.

“They held a civic reception with the Lord Mayor in the Mansion House followed up a short time later with an invitation to afternoon tea with President Michael D Higgins in Aras an Uachtaráin, and I assure you it was a very memorable day,” he said.

“Dad was proud of his involvement with the procurement and installation of the peal of bells for this church which were first rang to celebrate the millennium. He was also the President and Trustee of the Irish Association of Change Ringers for many years.”

In 2017, to celebrate Christmas Day, “we videoed Dad at the age of 93 change ringing as part of an 8-person team and we were amazed at his ability to complete with ease what is a very difficult process. He was pleased to see this art form being carried down through the family by my brother David,” he said.

Another son, Peter, thanked their father’s carers and staff at St Vincent’s. “Up until early this year Dad was living independently at home and living life to the full,” he said. He “went into St Vincent’s four weeks ago. Last Wednesday Dad woke up at 7am, talked to his doctor and nurse, took his medication at 7.40 and then peacefully fell back to sleep,” he said.

The funeral was conducted by rector of Taney Rev Nigel Pierpoint with the sermon delivered by Archbishop of Dublin Michael Jackson, who described Mr Galbraith as a “bell-ringer extraordinaire.” He recalled visiting him at the bell tower in Taney where “he was so very much at home. It was his mansion.”

Chief mourners were Mr Galbraith’s children David, Robert, Eric, Peter, Heather and Barbara. His wife Ann Patricia predeceased him.

Cremation took place afterwards at Mount Jerome.