Archive for the ‘Ireland’ Category

So to make up for it, here’s an absolutely brilliant video of three Irishmen taking the mick out of themselves as they head off to celebrate St Patrick’s Day!

This should appeal to all my friends around the world with Côte d’Ivoire connections… not to mention spud afficionados, flag experts, Irish dancers, Welsh (or should it be Scottish) people and drinkers of the Irish national brew!

Looking forward to your reflections and comments by pigeon post, postcards… or even comments here on the blog.

A very happy belated St Patrick’s Day!

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We’re now halfway through and it’s Easter.

Along with many other people here in Ireland, I’ve been taking part in…

100 days of prayer for 100 years of history – a movement of prophetic prayer for healing of the past, honour in the present and hope for the future.

2016 is a year of centenaries – the Battle of the Somme and the Easter Rising. In this moment, we are inviting Christians to unite and prayerfully engage in our nation’s story – to grasp this unique pastoral and prophetic opportunity.

Read more about 100 Days for 100 years here

The Easter weekend readings adapt the Bible to our local context and turn our thoughts to prayer!

Day 49 Good Friday? Mark 15

And Friday is good. Jesus died that we might live. He was made sin for us. Satan was defeated. Death was beaten. Mercy and truth met together. Righteousness and peace kissed. On that Friday, the curtain in the temple was torn in two. On that Friday, tombs were opened and bodies raised. On the cross that Friday, He declared – “It is finished.”

We have our own reason to call this Friday ‘good’. The Belfast Agreement is often known as the Good Friday Agreement. It proved to be a significant stepping stone to peace. It wasn’t perfect, and those on both sides of the conflict have had to accept developments that they had previously declared to be unacceptable. Political tensions and ambiguities have continued to the present day, yet almost everybody agrees that it has changed Northern Ireland for the better.

Forgiveness and reconciliation are possible because of what happened that first Good Friday. And so we pause, we reflect, and we wait in the darkness.


They looked upon the One they had pierced and thought that they had won
The Word of God was silenced
The Light of the World was extinguished
The Way was blocked
The Truth questioned
The Life was dead
So great a love
So great a sacrifice
Amen                                                                           Peter Lynas

Day 50 Waiting for Resurrection Isaiah 61

I can’t help but feel we are still living in Easter Saturday here; we know something significant has happened with the transition to politics instead of terror, but we haven’t yet experienced resurrection to something new. We’re still fighting, albeit it is usually now just with words.

The prophet Isaiah, among his various messages, brought one of comfort, including this: ‘They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.’ Every time I drive down Oxford Street, I’m reminded of how this is true for Belfast. As I child, I remember being quickly herded into the bus station and minutes later a bomb destroying buildings around. Today, I see the Waterfront and new modern buildings, a testament to how far we have come.

But Isaiah also talked of deeper issues; broken hearts healed, prisoners freed, comfort for the mourning, justice marking society, joy instead of despair. In that sense, we’re still in between what has happened and what we still long for – it’s still Easter Saturday to an extent and we’re waiting for resurrection.


Father, thank You for the hope that Easter brings, for the reminder and promise of resurrection. In this time of waiting, we’re grateful that things are better than they used to be! But we’re not satisfied, and we bring our discontent to You; we long for healing, for comfort, for justice, for real peace that will permeate our country and our relationships.
As we wait, help us to hold fast to the hope for better, not merely to settle for what we have now. Help us to be agents of the resurrection life and hope that we long to see in our day.
Stephen Cave

Day 51 He is risen! John 20

Picture the scene. Jesus’ disciples are in a room three days after His death. The doors are locked and they are riddled with fear.  Imagine their emotions as they contemplate their uncertain futures. After ‘selling out’ to follow the Rabbi Jesus, they believe His dead body now lies limp and lifeless in a tomb.  They are flooded by doubt, consumed by disappointment and apparent failure, which is all compounded by the immediate fear for their lives from the Jewish leaders.

Then like a scene from a sci-fi movie, Jesus shows up! He is right there in the room with them. But how? The doors are locked! Scholars disagree as to whether Jesus actually walked through the walls or not but one thing we can definitely surmise is that walls can’t keep Jesus out.  I wonder if in this act, Jesus was telling us something about what the resurrection would mean for us, for all of creation. Still carrying the scars of the cross, Jesus in His physical post-resurrection body steps through the walls to show us that it truly is finished – everything, absolutely everything the curse of sin sought to destroy of God’s good creation has been dealt with in Christ’s own body and even death, the final enemy, has been conquered! As Paul a few decades later would declare, ‘Nothing can separate us from the love of God.’  Every wall closing in around us can be smashed by the wrecking ball of the love of God. A love so strong that is raises the dead.

The walls that have separated us from one another can also come crashing down.  Jesus’ all-conquering love carries the power to destroy our divisions and pride, making us one.  As He declared to those startled disciples, having appeared in the Upper Room, who He came and stood beside on resurrection Sunday ‘Peace be with you.’


Father, thank You that walls can’t keep Jesus out, yet we recognise that we can keep them up.
Help us to follow Jesus’ example of self-sacrificial love, to deny ourselves, say YES to Your ways and allow Your love to flood our hearts.
May that love overflow to our neighbours, even our enemies.                 Alain Emerson
Good Friday has passed; we have waited through Saturday; we rejoice today that Christ is risen!
Peace be with you.

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cityofculture-logoTHE four largest Christian churches are uniting for a special evangelical initiative that will see a copy of Luke’s Gospel delivered to every home in Londonderry during UK City of Culture 2013.

The leaders of the four main Churches will be launching the free gift for all in Foyleside Shopping Centre on Monday, January 21 2013.

Bishop Ken Good (Church of Ireland Bishop of Derry and Raphoe), Monsignor Eamonn Martin (Catholic Diocesan Administrator for Derry diocese), Rev Robert Buick (Moderator of the local Presbytery) and Rev Peter Murray (leader of the Methodist Church in the district) will join together with choirs and perfomers from local schools to launch A Free Gift for All.

A spokesperson for the initiative said: “The christian message is something that crosses divides and is good news for every person. Not only do we want to celebrate this special year in our city we also do so as a recognition of the common christian heritage of our city.”

The project involves the four churches joining together to distribute a special copy of Luke’s Gospel to every household in the city.

This joint initiative is a contribution from the churches to mark the 2013 UK City of Culture in the city. It is also a sign of a common commitment to the good news of the Christian message.

The public launch of A Free Gift for All will see choirs from schools across the community perform at this unique event. Pupils from the different communities, in some instances, will join to walk together to the event. There will also be performance art to mark the event.

Published on Tuesday 15 January 2013  in Londonderry Sentinel

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Just spotted this excellent animation promo for Derry – Londonderry 2013 City of Culture!

Coincidentally we’ll be passing through Derry soon en route to a short break in Donegal.

I wonder if we can get a Wycliffe event organised for 2013 in Derry?

Now there’s a thought…

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A very good friend gave us a Groupon for Christmas. It was a bed and breakfast Friday night in the excellent Glassdrumman Lodge just outside Annalong, a fishing port on the edge of the Mourne Mountains.

On the Friday we took a walk to Lough Shannagh, the largest natural lake in the Mournes.

Misty Lough Shannagh




John at LoughShannagh

And so we arrived at Glasdrumman Lodge for the night. Had a good fish dish at the Harbour Inn in Annalong. Our room was Slieve Binnian – and guess what our view from the bedroom window was ?

Slieve Binnian from our room

Next morning after a very good gourmet breakfast, we set off to walk through the mountains to Newcastle, the Lodge staff having offered to pick us up at Donard Park and bring us back to pick up the car. So off we went accompanied by the Lodge dog which we later learned was very fond of accompanying randon guests up into the mountains…

Slieve Binnian as we left the Lodge

Rainbow over Binnian from the slopes of Rocky Mountain

We climbed past Long Seefin, rounded Rocky Moutain and dropped down into the Bog of Donard from where he took the Brandy Pad before climbing the crest and descending to Newcastle by the horribly rough Glen River route – possibly my least favourite path in the Moures. It was very windy all the way from the Bog of Donard, but we got brilliant misty views back down the Annalong Vally with the Devil’s Coachroad on the far side. here’s just one of them…

Magical view down Annalong Valley

A great mini break!

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Ireland in Pictures 2011

BBC N. Ireland has posted 21 photographs under the title In Pictures: BBC N. Ireland 2011 year in review

They cover a lot of politics north and south; sport… mostly golf, of course; the Queen’s historic visit to the Republic of Ireland; strikes; the MTV awards in Belfast; and the Field Marshall Montgomery Pipe Band winning the pipe band World Championships. Incidentally a former drum major from the very same band once trained  me as a teenager in a Boys Brigade bugle band.

You can view much better images of all 21 photos at the link above, but here are my personal choices…

1. Thousands protest the dissident Republican murder of young Roman Catholic police officer Ronan Kerr and absolutely rejecting any return to sectarian violence in N. Ireland

2. The Queen’s historic visit to the GAA headquarters Croke Park in Dublin… just one incident in the amazing series of quite historic events

3. Rory McIlroy – our amazing young Nornirn winner of the US Open

4. Field Marshall Montgomery Pipe Band world champions 2011 – look quite delighted with themselves, don’t they? Lovely picture!

5. Darren Clarke celebrates with a traditional pint of Guinness after winning the British Open to complete the NI trio of Open winners in just over a year

All, in their own ways, positive images to end the year… and that’s in some contrast to a very depressing view of the world today on BBC News at Ten this evening.

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