Friday, 8 January 2021

CSNL News - January -February 2021

See below the current magazine - Thanks as always to Lilian Webb (Editor) for keeping this valuable resource going during these difficult times

 Issue 63 CSNL NEWS     January/February, 2021

Parish Of Celbridge & Straffan with Newcastle-Lyons

Church of Ireland United Dioceses of Dublin & Glendalough

By the parishioners - for the parishioners


From Our Rector - Dear Friends ..


Firstly may I wish you all a very Happy New Year.  We still face a difficult period but we do so together in the context of a vaccination programme that has started, however slowly.  With this new year comes new hope and the prospect of new beginnings.  Many of us will be confined to our homes and immediate environment for at least a month or so and while it is frustrating perhaps we can look for the opportunities that come with this challenge.  We have time together with our immediate family - something we often struggled to have before Covid and we were all so busy that we were literally like ships that pass in the night.  So lets use this time and cherish those around us who we may have taken for granted.


We also have time to reflect on our lives and even pray and we should not underestimate the importance of either - perhaps this is a time to take stock and consider a new direction or a new purpose in our lives - it is good to listen to our hearts and to listen to God and in the busyness of life we may not have a chance to do either.  Time is a gift - it is part of the gift of life and we have been given this time - let us use it wisely and constructively. 


Yours                                                                                                               Stephen



We pray for all those who are sick at home, in hospital or nursing homes especially during restricted visiting hours, those who care for them, those who have lost their livelihood due to Covid-19, those isolated in their homes not able to see/visit friends and loved ones, those bereaved, all front line staff, all those in government and the HSE who have decisions to make and those working on a vaccine.


Live Broadcast

Sunday, 22nd November saw the first live broadcast from Straffan - and the trial of our new permanent webcam, which worked very well.  It was lovely for Straffan parishioners especially seeing the church again.  Debbie Kelly, Jennifer Byrne, Marcus Beresford & Vivien Bond recorded the readings which were included in the live broadcast along with Dee Hutchinsons recording of the prayers.  The setting of the service with the playing of Be Still for the presence of the Lord before the service commenced set the scene.  Thanks to our Rector for embracing all this technology since March!



It was good to be able to return to church on 6th December in all three churches up to Christmas Day.  Our Rector notes that it was certainly a Christmas like no other and yet despite the small numbers and muted celebrations it was still Christmas and the light did shine in the darkness and we now live and walk in that light.


Services - (all services in January until further notice on line only)

At this point we do not know when churches will reopen and regardless of Government advice we will not open until the situation regarding Coronavirus infection improves radically.  As one parishioner said to Rev. Stephen recently - just because we can doesnt mean we should.  As Rector, his priority is the safety of our parishioners and those in their contact group.  If and when we are given permission to reopen, Rev. Stephen plans to consult the Select Vestries before making any decision.


Primrose Hill National School

Now that it has been confirmed that our schools are going back to online learning we wish the pupils and staff all the best as they deal with the challenges posed by online learning and also miss the friendship and fellowship of the school environment.


Well done!

Congratulations to Judith Gleeson and her team of distributors for the  face masks for the elves fundraiser which raised 342 for Dublin Zoo and received temporary adoption certificates issued by the Zoo in the name of The parish of Celbridge, Straffan & Newcastle-Lyons.  She looks forward to being able to visit their adoptees - a giraffe, red panda, penguin, two elephants & two orangutans!


Organisation Focus - Newborn Knitting - newborn

This organisation, in the process of registration with the Charities Regulator was set up to make clothes for refugees.  Over 500 children in the 0-6 age group reside in the camp on the Greek island of Samos.  Currently in lockdown, it is not possible to send items - but as well as clothes and toys for the children, other items in short supply are ladies knickers, bras, sanitary towels, childrens underwear, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, soothers and bibs.  The contact, Judith, lives in Dublin and when out of lockdown, deliveries can be made to her. 


For Warmer - For Colder - Marriage Blessing & Baptism

There was a lovely warm feeling when parishioners returned back to church in Straffan on 6th December after 11 weeks.  There were lovely flowers along the aisle and two fabulous white arrangements at the top of the church.  The reason - there was a wedding blessing, but it was also a US army couple and it took place at 7.30 a.m, in the company of a congregation in single figures, Major Nick Erdimiller & Ms. Casey Olsen sought Gods blessing on their marriage.  It was a very special and moving event and one which our Rector imagines will remain unique in his experience.  We wish Nick & Casey every blessing in their life together and look forward to them returning to visit us in Straffan (as is their intention), preferable at a slightly later hour and on not such a bitterly cold morning!


On Sunday, 13th December, Isaac Peter Cosgrove, son of Jonathan & Clionadh and brother of Phillipa & Caleb was baptised in Christ Church, Celbridge.  The Godparents were Colin Carey & Antonia Cosgrove.  We wish Isaac Peter Gods richest blessing in his journey in life and faith.


Bishops Appeal Funds Allocated Report By Geoffrey McMaster

Thanks to Newcastle-Lyons parish for a total of 380 towards the appeal for Beirut.


10,000  Tearfund Ireland & Christian Aid - Beirut Appeal.

10,000   Self Help Africa - Cashew project - Burkina Faso.

5,000   Christian Aid - overseas projects for costs due to Pandemic.

10,000   Feed the Minds - food & forestry projects - Cameroon.

10,000   Fields of Life - projects in 6 schools in Uganda.

4,480   CMS Ireland - training for diocesan deaf centre - Cairo.

26,000   CMS Ireland & Mothers Union - train women - Burundi.

10,000  Christian Aid - supporting farmers in projects - Malawi.

10,000  Tearfund Ireland - support and training for foster parents.

10,000  Christian Aid - water & electricity to health centres - Sierra Leone - this project is included in their Advent Appeal.


Church Review 2021

2020 was a challenge with regards to getting the monthly edition of the Church Review to the parishioners who subscribe to this Diocesan publication.  It was more and more difficult for anyone to collect the Reviews from the Taney Parish Centre in Dundrum on a monthly basis and then to arrange for them to be delivered to each church to be collected by each subscriber.  So it is great to report that Lucan Parish Centre has been added as a collection point for the Review in 2021, which means the distributors will be able to continue with collecting and distributing on a monthly basis to each of the churches.  This is great news.  If you havent paid by now, please do so immediately, the cost is 40 (or 30 for those who wish to avail of the 10 rebate from 2020).  Thanks to our distributors for the challenge they had in 2020 - Debbie Kelly - Straffan, Elizabeth Waldron - Newcastle-Lyons and Ken Denner - Celbridge.


NON Going Events!

Craft & Chat/ Time Of Prayer For Healing & Whist Drives will not resume until the Pandemic is considerably less of a threat.


Team Hope Shoe Boxes Appeal - Christmas Auction

Thanks to all who supported the appeal.


Parish Hall Buildings - A New Lease Of Life -  By Jos Evertsen, January, 2021

Our Parish is steeped in history and heritage. Together with our church buildings we are fortunate to have quite a complex of Parish Hall Buildings, The Upper Hall and The Lower Hall. The former  consists of The Slip Hall (originally the parish school) flanked on either side by Slip Houses 1 and 2 respectively, formerly the teachers houses to the school. The Lower Hall also had its various uses and became The Boys Working Shop. Here, boys were taught trades such as carpentry, shoemaking (to name but a few!) and the girls learned domestic husbandry and home economics.


These buildings were built by Lady Louisa Conolly in 1813/1814 as a philanthropic gesture towards local integrated free education. They are a charming example of 19th century institutional architecture, built in a style modestly reminiscent of Castletown House. Lady Louisa spent a good deal of time and money on the school (The Slip Hall), designing the buildings, engaging the masters, judging the childrens work and writing rules and prayers for them all. Over many years these Parish Hall Buildings were well maintained and had various uses.


With the exception of the Slip Hall (the middle section of the Upper Hall), the Slip Houses 1 & 2 and the Lower Hall had in more recent years fallen into disrepair, were overgrown with ivy and provided a comfortable home to the local pigeon population and other wildlife, including vandalism. All required significant repairs and refurbishment if they were to be brought back to life and full operation. This would be an expensive undertaking, but it would help to create new vibrancy and opportunities in the Parish.


The Slip Hall, was restored during 2004. The original Hall was extended with a new kitchen and toilet facilities. Whilst the Slip Hall had been restored it had only a limited use. The other buildings continued to deteriorate and the full complex of buildings became increasingly a financial burden to the parish, a situation that was unsustainable.


In 2013 a refurbishment / development plan with business approach

was developed for the Slip Hall and the potential of the other Parish Hall Buildings was articulated. The underlying objectives of the refurbishment plan were

1.   To rejuvenate the near derelict buildings;

2.   To make the buildings available to both the Parish and the local community; and

3.   To rent out the refurbished buildings to generate a future sustainable income stream for the Parish.


The main obstacle to refurbishment was that there were no funds available from the Parish central funds. The income to central parish funds was gradually decreasing, placing a greater pressure on the financial position of the parish. In developing the refurbishment plan in 2013 it was set out from the start, that any refurbishment had to be self-financing and no funding could be drawn from central Parish funds. Any funding required had to be created. The initial plan was to build on what facilities could be rented out and to reinvest the income generated in the refurbishment of the all buildings.


In 2013 the fabric of the Slip Hall was upgraded, to a standard suitable for renting out. A cost-based rental fee structure was developed for hourly rentals to local community groups and individuals. The Select Vestry established a ring fenced Buildings Fund to manage the financials for income generation and payment of refurbishment. Through local advertising, word of mouth and competitive rental fees, rental uptake increased quite rapidly. In 2015 a Montessori school was started, using the Slip Hall on weekday mornings. To date, there is nearly a 90% occupancy, including weekends.


When the development plan was started in 2013, the Parish Hall Buildings complex was a financial burden to the Parish. Electricity and gas bills had to be paid. Building insurance for the deteriorating buildings was a further financial liability. In 2013, the buildings complex was costing the parish approximately 8,000 per annum. At year end in 2019 the rentals of the Slip Hall only, had generated a rental income in excess of 27,000. Whilst a 2020 income in excess of 32,000 was projected, due to the Covid restrictions rentals have been down and we may see a return only of approximately 17,000. With the return of some normality in 2021 the rental income can be quickly restored.


During August 2017 the refurbishment of Slip House 2 was started. This involved the removal of covering and invasive ivy growth, removal of the pigeon community and their debris, Rentokil treatment of roof timbers, installation of insulation, replacement of upstairs flooring timbers, restoring downstairs lathed ceilings, repair of all sash windows, replacing the stairs, electrics, plumbing and heating. All this with keeping the original character fully intact. Now completed, it will be occupied by Jason Milea and his family as from the 1st January 2021.


Refurbishment of the Lower Hall was started in January 2020. From 2014 until then it had functioned as a joinery workshop. Refurbishment was initially made possible because of a generous anonymous donation. It was started with the replacement of the roof timbers, preserving the original Bangor slates and restoring the original chimney, replacing the missing chimney pots. Full refurbishment was completed in October 2020 despite the limitations that Covid restrictions imposed on its original scheduled progress. The Lower Hall will now be rented out to a local enterprise from January 2021.


It had been intended to continue with and complete the refurbishment of Slip House 1, the last refurbishment project. Unfortunately, Covid prevented the start of this, as at the end of 2020 we are now faced with a challenging financial situation.  From March 2020 until September all rental income instantly dried up and no Straffan Car Boot events took place. Some income was restored during the autumn sessions but we are not back to full income levels by any means. With the provision of a generous anonymous interest free loan, all bills for the Lower Hall refurbishment have been paid and there are no outstanding debts. Income is now being generated from all the buildings in use, including some limited use of Slip House 1.


The developments that had been envisioned were made possible not only through their financing but largely also through the involvement of people. I would be ill advised to name the people involved as failure of recall would quickly require apologetic correction. Having said that, in any long term project such as this, there are always a few drivers who have made things possible.


1.   The Tús programme This back-to-work Government sponsored programme is always looking for work placements for its applicants. The Parish forged a good working relationship with the local coordination office, providing many applicants with a suitable one year placement. They all had construction experience and great DIY skills, all of which were put to great use in our refurbishment projects. Their skills and dedication made a lot of things happen. Most applicants returned to employment after their placement.

2.   The Straffan Car Boot event Each year the car boot would generate approximately 7,000 - 7,500 for the Buildings Fund. Monies from this were a significant contribution towards the refurbishment costs. We thank the many people who religiously helped to manage and run the event, who did the regular and ever popular home baking and those who kept the grounds and facilities in great order. It is one of the most sought after car boot locations.

3.   Ken Denner our walking Parish encyclopaedia of the Parish Halls buildings and site, our site manager for the Tús workers, negotiator for local deals, managing daily rental issues and ever ready to help with any problem that arose. Both Valerie & Ken continuously clean and tidy the Slip Hall, most important in the daily maintenance of the Hall especially in the current Covid situation.

4.   Linda Daly who took on the transformation of the Slip Hall in 2013 and prepared it to be fit for purpose in renting it out to local groups, clubs and individuals.

5.   Jason & Richard Milea our joinery works specialists who restored all the sash windows in the Lower Hall to their original fully functional condition. Jason is also responsible for carrying out all the work of refurbishing Slip House 2 to its original status.

6.   Gordon Bass our parish Hon Treasurer, with his cautious, firm

      but flexible financial direction and management, made funding of the projects possible.

7.   Bill Nicholson who took over the general administration and

      rentals of the Slip Hall Buildings last September.

8.   Rev Stephen Neill our rector under whose guidance, support, encouragement and ever-ready-to-roll-up-sleeves the project was able to be realised.


As our Hon Treasurer, Gordon Bass, has articulated during recent General Easter Vestry meetings, the annual giving within the parish is not sufficient anymore to adequately sustain the Parish finances and its annual financial liabilities. There is a shortage of income from the general and regular giving. With the near-completion of this 7-year refurbishment programme of the Parish Hall Buildings, the Parish has now created a potential sustainable income stream to compliment Parish funds when required, thereby helping to secure the financial health and future of the Parish.


There is now the opportunity to rent out the Parish Hall Buildings, manage them on a business-like basis and maximise the financial returns that can be generated from them. This requires a dedicated effort of rental administration, contract management and an extensive maintenance program, all of which will become new and added responsibilities of the Select Vestry. Currently, all the required inputs are done by voluntary works of a very few dedicated parishioners to whom we, as a Parish, should be very thankful. For the moment the financial security and its future looks brighter and we wish all concerned in further developing and managing this parish resource a good start and continued success in 2021.


Zoom Coffee Events

Now that we are back in lockdown the Zoom Coffee & Chat on Sunday mornings (as announced) and Wednesday evenings at 8 p.m., have resumed - contact Rev. Stephen for log on details.  They are very informal and an opportunity to see each other and talk face to face in these challenging times.  All are welcome.  Thanks to our Rector for hosting these over the last couple of months.



.. To all those who have contributed items for the parish newsletter - it is YOUR newsletter - so Im always grateful for news.  Editor.


Stamp Of Approval - Disestablishment Of The Church Of Ireland

January, 1st marked the 150th anniversary of the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland.  On 7th January, An Post marked this by issuing a special stamp.  The disestablishment of the Church of Ireland led to its transition from being a privileged minority to being a confident and influential minority.  The design of the stamp is based on the sun, moon and stars panel in the Cathedral of Saint Fin Barre in Cork.



Archbishop Michael Jackson paid tribute to Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, who announced his retirement.  He said I want to wish Archbishop Diarmuid Martin all that is best in his retirement. Archbishop Martin has been a valued friend, both ecumenically and personally and I have appreciated the mutual trust that we have enjoyed as Archbishops of Dublin.  From the day I arrived here as Archbishop of Dublin, I felt welcomed by Archbishop Martin to a city which is his own.  Archbishop Martin is a confident and compassionate exponent of the Gospel.  He has helped to develop the ecumenical landscape of the diocese.  There is a number of events each year which we share publicly including the annual Good Friday Walk of Witness which we lead together from Christ Church Cathedral to St. Marys pro Cathedral.  We regularly take part together in Ecumenical Bible Week.  On the announcement of his successor, Archbishop Jackson said I also wish his successor, Bishop Dermot Farrell, Bishop of Ossory, every blessing as he takes on this work of service and leadership in Dublin.


Our Rector comments on the parish face book page - A well  deserved retirement after a ministry marked by huge compassion for those on the margins - Having personally experienced his genuine and warm ecumenism I give thanks for his generous character and true Christianity - I pray he has a long and healthy retirement.”


As a member of the Religious Press Association many years ago, I had the privilege of hearing Archbishop Martin prior to his enthronement and was very impressed with his vision for the Diocese and also wish him every blessing in his retirement - Editor.


Calendar Of Events


Wed     17        Ash Wednesday - online - details to be announced.



Mon       1        Closing date for next issue of CSNL NEWS.

Sun      14        Mothering Sunday.

Wed     17        St. Patricks Day.


Whos Who In The Parish

Rector:  Rev. Stephen Neill     01-6288231                  087-2328172




Come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.




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