October 30th, 1937


FROM THE ARCHIVES:The vicar of St John’s church in Sandymount, Dublin, the Rev SRS Colquhoun, was suspended for six months in 1937 by a Church of Ireland court for carrying out unauthorised practices. Evidence heard by the court of three bishops, three Northern judges and one Southern judge included the following. – JOE JOYCE

ALBERT E. MURPHY, the first witness, said that he was present in St John’s Church, Sandymount, at the institution of the present incumbent, on the 7th June, 1930. The Stations of the Cross were not there at that time. He had been in the church since then, and the Stations of the Cross, in the shape of fourteen plaster plaques, are now on the walls. A crucifix, about 2 or 3 feet high, hangs on the wall high above the pulpit.

The witness said that he had never seen anyone perform an act of adoration in front of them, except the Vicar himself. When the respondent went into the pulpit to preach the sermon, after announcing the text, he turned towards the Crucifix and made the Sign of the Cross. He did this again at the end of the sermon.

John Bernard Whelan, a student at the College of the Irish Church Missions, said he was present at Morning Service in the church on 4th and 11th July last. The witness could only hear a “mumble” of words during the prayers, which he recognised only from the opening sentence

The witness went on to say that there were three servers or acolytes in long black cassocks and short surplices, taking part in the Service. One of them came in first and lighted candles on the Communion Table. He then returned to the vestry, and the three servers then came out, followed by the Vicar.

Throughout the Service they remained inside the chancel rail. They apparently made the sign of the Cross on occasions “too numerous to mention”, and made acts of obeisance towards the Communion Table. On 4th July there were three candles on the Communion Table, and on the 11th July there were eight. On both occasions the time was about 11.30 a.m., and in his opinion there was no necessity for artificial lighting of any kind, as there were at least three windows in the chancel. There was no artificial light in the nave, and he could read the Prayer Book without any difficulty

The witness described how one of the servers during the Communion brought the Cup to the Vicar, who drank from it. The servers then poured liquids into the Cup, and the Vicar drank again. The ceremony was repeated a third time.

Mr. W. Chamney, one of the petitioners, said that on the 3rd January last he was at service in the church, and corroborated as to the indistinctness of the prayers. He was able to hear no more than an occasional word. The witness complained that before the saying of the Creed was completed the Vicar left the church, which was necessary for him to reach the pulpit, and on five occasions he referred to the Communion Service as “the Mass”.