The University of Sheffield
Sheffield Universities' Guild of Change Ringers (SUGCR)
Sheffield Hallam University

Summer 1998 Ireland Tour

Account by William Norton

Wednesday 24th June 1998
At 10am on Wednesday 24th June 1998, 12 ringers from the Sheffield Universities' Guild of Change Ringers (and friends) met in a car park in Sheffield to embark upon a slightly different sort of summer tour. Little did they know of the adventures and surprises that were in store for them in Dublin... We travelled in a convoy of three cars to the ferry port of Holyhead, stopping at Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch for a snack and a group photo. We were a little let down to find out that the sign on our side of the station had no name plaque, and the footbridge joining the two sides had been demolished, and so settled for a group photo outside the ticket office.

L to R: Sarah D, Chris, Will, Sarah, Philip, Adrian, Deborah, Lesley, Fiona, Kerry, Emily. Photo courtesy of Hayley Morris.

Onboard. L to R: Will, Philip, Sarah, Chris, Adrian, Fiona, Lesley, Sarah D, Deborah, Emily, Kerry.

Guinness drinking in the wind. Adrian (left) and Lesley.

On arriving in Dublin we attempted to locate our hostel without a map and little knowledge of Irish road signs, (Give Way signs, for instance, being replaced with ones that read "Yield"), or any notable regard by local drivers for the road signs anyway. The purchase of a map and many wrong turns and unmarked roundabouts finally led us to our home for the next few days. After unloading our luggage we prioritised our objectives, and like any serious bellringers, headed for the nearest pub. We found a nice pub in nearby Blackrock, ( or An Charraig Dhubh for you Gaelic speakers out there), - the Potters Bar which to our unending delight served drinks to us at our tables.

Thursday 25th June 1998
Our first tower of the tour was SS Augustine and John, (St. John's Lane), Dublin - a nice ring of ten bells hung anti-clockwise. Having successfully navigated the streets of the capital and the disc parking system, we were a little surprised to find that we had accidently turned up in the middle of someone's funeral. A bit of investigation and good luck led us to a friendly local ringer who showed us up to the bells. St. John's Lane has the highest tower in Dublin and the steel spiral staircase that led up to the ringing chamber gave "breathtaking" views of the service below.

SS Augustine and John

A short ring later and we were off again - destination Drogheda. A mixture of ambitious planning, Dublin traffic and road works meant that we turned up in town at the time that we were meant to finish ringing. Drogheda has two churches that are called St. Peter's, and it took many frantic phone calls to find out that we had been standing outside the wrong one. Drogheda has a lovely ring of eight bells and we were kindly allowed to ring for a lengthy period of time and enjoy them in spite of our lateness.

St. Peter's, Drogheda

The afternoon was spent seeing some of the sights of Dublin - green postboxes, the Ha'penny Bridge, Temple Bar and Dublin Castle. We returned to the Potters Bar to find out that the beers were stored on the roof and that red lemonade was available behind the bar thus confiming our eternal patronage.

Friday 26th June 1998
The hectic schedule of ringing that was devised back in England meant that we had the whole day free to go sight seeing followed by an evening's ringing. The morning was spent visiting Trinity College, the College library, 'Dublin Experience' and the Book of Kells. After lunch we took a group tour of the Guinness Brewery (St. James' Gate) and we went ringing at Christ Church Cathedral in the evening. Christ Church Cathedral has a fantastic ring of 12 bells and we were able to join in with the local ringing practice and have a really good ring.

Christ Church Cathedral

The tower captain, Leslie Taylor, (no not our one, look at the spelling), told us that they had recently acquired a mini-ring of eight bells (11 pounds in weight) and we were ferried in cars to St. Mhobias, Dublin to have an unscheduled grab. The mini ring was easily mastered, (honest), and produced a good few hours entertainment before we had to drag ourselves away to catch the last DART home from Tara Street station.

The mini ring at St. Mhobhias was a challenge but we all had a go, and most managed a credible job.

Saturday 27th June 1998
The first ring of the day was Christ Church, Bray (Co. Wicklow) a good ring of eight bells. We were met by yet another friendly local ringer, who kindly renamed the Sheffield Universities' Tour "William Norton's Tour" in their visitors' book - a moniker that proved to be difficult to lose in the next few days. The second tower was St. Saviour's, Arklow, another good ring of eight. We were amused by a sign outside the church warning us against the birds that dropped objects from above, but no-one seemed in a hurry to test the idea out.

St. Saviour's, Arklow

The final stop on our tour was St. Mary's, Blessington. The drive to the tower gave amazing views of the surrounding countryside - the Wicklow mountains and nearby fields and woods. After lunch in a local hostelry we were caught in a heavy shower of rain waiting to ring at St. Mary's. Unfortunately we were locked out of the tower and so headed back to Dublin.

The lock out. The rain added insult to injury.

Tea was eaten in Ireland's most famous chip shop, (Besshoff's), and then to the oldest pub in Dublin - the Brazen Head, Bridge Street - to sample more Guinness and the legendary craic.

The Brazen Head, Bridge Street

The Sheffield Universities' Guild of Change Ringers would like to take this opportunity to thank everybody in Ireland who helped us organise the tour and made us feel so welcome when we were over there. Everybody was fantastically friendly and helpful, and we recommend that anybody thinking about taking a tour over to Ireland definitely should. We would also like to extend a special thank you to Fleur Kellett who helped do a lot of the organising for the trip, but couldn't go due to having to attend lectures.

We are already planning our next tour for the summer of 1999. The only complaints about our Ireland trip have been the amount of ringing that was included - so the Greek Islands look like a good choice!!!

The University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK