1500 YEARS OF CHRISTIAN WITNESS IN THE DIOCESE OF CLOGHER
Disestablishment and beyond
Between 1850 and 1886 the diocese of Clogher did not exist as a separate entity. The Church Temporalities Act of 1833 aimed at reducing the extent of the state's endowment of the Church of Ireland and re-deploying the money saved to other purposes. The most obvious way of effecting economy was by reducing the number of archbishoprics and bishoprics as and when existing incumbents died. The proposal was to merge Clogher into Armagh. This did not happen until 1850 when the then Bishop of Clogher, Robert Ponsonby Tottenham Loftus, died. Between that date and 1886 a strong body of local opinion within the former diocese of Clogher began to agitate on favour of a re-separation of Clogher from Armagh. A number of prominent and wealthy individuals left or promised sums of money to help finance a separate diocese, among them John Grey Vesey Porter of Belleisle, Lisbellaw, who owned The Lisbellaw Gazette, and W.C. Trimble of Enniskillen, owner and proprietor of The Impartial Reporter.
Archbishop Marcus Gervais Beresford of Armagh, who had resisted separation, died in December 1885, and somehow or other money was found for the re-establishment of the diocese of Clogher. Porter's newspaper campaign, also aided by a loan from Porter, ended with the election of Archdeacon Maurice Stack as the first post-disestablishment Bishop of Clogher on 4th June 1886. Stack remained in position to see in the twentieth century.
The twentieth century bishops of Clogher are to a greater or lesser extent within living memory. Names such as D'Arcy, Day, MacManaway, Tyner, Buchanan, Hanson, Heavener, McMullan and Hannon each conjure up their own associations and recollections for people within the diocese.
Bishop RPC Hanson was a distinguish academic and theologian, later Professor of Historical and Contemporary Theology at the University of Manchester. He and bishops William Heavener (who passed away last year aged 100), Gordon McMullan and Brian Hannon led the diocese during the worst years of the Troubles, the Seventies and Eighties. During these decades, many parishioners were killed by terrorists, and many border parishes saw families move away to 'safer' areas. The IRA bomb in Enniskillen on Remembrance Sunday 1987 which killed eleven people stands out as one of the worst atrocities of these times.
Nevertheless the people and parishes of Clogher diocese with Bishop Michael Jackson remain resolute, as they seek to maintain that centuries-old witness to Jesus Christ in the twenty-first century, loving God and neighbour.
BISHOPS OF CLOGHER
|© 2006 The Church of Ireland Diocese of Clogher|