HRH The Earl of Wessex has visited Down Cathedral as part of his 2 day visit to Northern Ireland. He is the first Royal visitor to the Cathedral in 74 years.
The Dean of Down, The Very Revd Henry Hull, greeted His Royal Highness at the High Cross before escorting him to the cathedral door where he was introduced to Bishop Harold and Mrs Liz Miller and Mrs Geraldine Hull.
The Royal visitor met the Cathedral Chapter, members of the Cathedral Board and volunteers before Dean Hull escorted him on a short tour of the building.
One of the most striking features of the cathedral is the pulpitum, which is topped by the magnificent organ whose pipes reach almost to the vaulted roof – something which is unique in the whole of Ireland. Michael McCracken, Down Cathedral organist, played a fanfare by Jaques Lemmens before the Earl was invited to sign the visitors’ book.
His Royal Highness then moved to the churchyard and the granite stone which marks the burial place of St Patrick where Bishop Harold offered two short prayers, including St Patrick’s Breastplate.
Speaking after the visit Dean Hull said:
“It was a real privilege to welcome the Earl of Wessex to Down Cathedral where we had an opportunity to tell him about, not only the history of the cathedral, but its ministry. He was particularly interested in the way that we work together with the other churches and as a united witness, all the local church leaders were here along with Fr Mark from the Benedictine Community in Rostrevor.”
His Royal Highness had a number of engagements in Downpatrick today beginning with The St Patrick Centre where he walked through the interactive journey based on St Patrick’s own writings. He also viewed the Northern Ireland Environment Agency Exhibition outlining the role of the Centre and how it encourages visitors to see the local sites associated with our patron saint.
The Earl of Wessex’s final stop was in the Downpatrick and County Down Railway Museum where he unveiled a plaque to commemorate the official opening of the Carriage Viewing Gallery.
The Belfast Telegraph website has a short article and video about the visit – the Cathedral section starts after about 50 seconds.