There was an unexpectedly glorious conclusion to Bishop Andrew Forster’s visit to the Dungloe group of parishes on Sunday 4th September after a day which had begun unpromisingly – with torrential wind and rain and a ‘Status Orange’ weather warning – ended in a sun-kissed outdoor service, including worship and hymns, at the ‘abandoned church’ beneath Mount Errigal.

On the way to Dungloe, the Bishop had been forced to take a detour after part of the road was flooded at Glenswilly, following heavy rainfall. Amazingly, blue skies greeted him on his arrival at St Crone’s Church in Dungloe where the Bishop’s Curate-in-Charge of the Gweedore, Carrickfinn and Templecrone group, Rev Liz Fitzgerald, was waiting with members of all three parishes.

The 11am service in Dungloe was one of two that the two clergy were to take part in, in the space of four and a half hours. Bishop Andrew blessed a new entranceway at St Crone’s Church which had been completed over a year ago but whose dedication was delayed by the Covid lockdown.

People’s Churchwarden Stephen Barrett explained that the project had involved the provision of an access-for-all walkway, steps, a landing and internal flooring. Members of the congregation joined the Bishop outside the church for the formal dedication , which took place beside an inscribed stone that had served for 75 years as the step at the church door.

When the congregation moved inside again, the Bishop also dedicated new communion cups and a set of new linens for the church (the latter had been donated on her family’s behalf by Dorothy Quinn ((née Hanlon)) in memory of her late father, Richard).

During the service, Rev Fitzgerald asked those present to pray for parts of the world that were war-torn or had been affected by floods.

A few hours later, at 3pm, some of the same parishioners joined members of the Dunlewey community at the old Dunlewey Church of Ireland building, between Errigal and the Poisoned Glen, where a new set of gates was dedicated in an outdoor service which took place in brilliant sunshine.

At both services – the dedication of a new entranceway in Dungloe and the dedication of new gates in Dunlewey – Bishop Andrew used the symbolism gates as a theme. In both locations, he prayed that the entranceways would be “broad enough to welcome everyone”, but narrow enough to “keep out envy, keep out sin, keep out all that can disrupt the family of God from serving God in the way that He calls us to.”