Parishioners from St Augustine’s Church in Londonderry refused to be deterred by yesterday’s security alert in the city centre, and succeeded in serving a Twelfth of July cooked breakfast—as planned—to members of a local flute band, albeit in a nearby car park rather than the parish hall.
The Rector of St Augustine’s, Rev Canon Malcolm Ferry, had intended serving the ‘fry up’ in the church hall, overlooking the famous City Walls but arrived, shortly before 7.00 a.m., to find the hall and the surrounding area cordoned off. “We had two options,” Canon Ferry said, “abandon our plan or improvise. We decided to improvise.”
Church volunteers cooked the breakfast elsewhere and brought the food to Bishop Street car park where it was gratefully received by members of the Churchill Flute Band. “We weren’t quite able to lay on ‘a full Ulster’ for the band,” Canon Ferry said, “but they got a hearty breakfast that set them up well for the day. They must‘ve enjoyed it, because—as well as covering the cost of the food—the bandsmen and bandswomen had a whip round and gave a generous donation to church funds.”
St Augustine’s—known by many as ‘the Wee Church on the Walls’—has found itself too close for comfort to this week’s rioting in the city. Canon Ferry has a number of parishioners living in the Fountain, which was attacked by petrol bombers and stone-throwers. Shots were fired at the police and viable explosive devices were thrown at officers on duty on the city walls – only yards from the church.
“It’s been a fairly tense week in the city,” the Rector said, “but, amazingly, the bandsmen’s form remained good and their spirits high. They were determined not to let the recent violence—or the early morning disruption—spoil their ‘Twelfth’. They enjoyed their breakfasts ‘al fresco’ in the car park and they went on to enjoy their big day.”
“It’s been disappointing, after a number of largely peaceful years, to see the return of serious rioting,” Canon Ferry said. “The vast majority of us want to see the trouble stopping – the sooner the better. Our church is a popular attraction for the thousands of people who visit the city and walk on the Walls, but our ministry here is being affected by the rioting. It’s been sad to see tourists walking past ‘the Wee Church’, this week, and taking photos, instead, of the trouble down below the Walls in the Bogside. It’s giving visitors completely the wrong impression of this beautiful, historic city of ours.”
Caption: 'Grub's up' - members of the Churchill Flute Band are served breakfast in Bishop Street car park