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Ecclesiastical Walk around the churches of Knock and Ballyhackamore

The seventh UHCT walking tour was, yet again, very lucky with the weather with blue skies and a little autumn sunshine heralding another interesting tour of churches, this time of Knock and Ballyhackamore in East Belfast. We started in St. Columba's CoI where the Rev. Canon John Auchmuty welcomed us and we learnt about the orgins of this beautiful church. Manus Deery, Assistant Director of the Historic Environment Division of the Department for Communities, accompanied us again this year and proved a font of knowledge on the architecture of the various churches. An unexpected organ recital by Dr Joe McKee caused a slight delay to the programme as we stayed to listen to a rousing rendition of the Dambuster's March. The group of about 25 people then quickly made their way to St. Colmcille's Roman Catholic Church on the Upper Newtownards Road where we were made very welcome by Noeleen Dunne on behalf of Father Feeney.   

Manus explained how this church differed in some aspects from St. Columba's. He pointed out how the intricate mosaic detail of the Sanctuary contrasted with the simple architecture of the nave and how the impact of the large columns in the nave had been minimised by detailing them as a cluster of four, more slender columns.

A brisk walk up the road brought us to Kirkpatrick Memorial Presbyterian Church, the third stop on the tour. The Rev. Christoph Ebbinghaus welcomed us and Manus explained how this church presented a stone front facade to the road but the side and rear walls were constructed in brick - probably to cut costs. This church was much simpler in style with a basic rectangular plan, less ornate stained glass windows and had the pulpit as the focal point. 

At Knock Methodist Church we were welcomed by the Rev. Britt Gilmore who pointed out the two stained glass windows in the west transept which had originally been in Donegall Square East Methodist Church and which commemorated the introduction of Methodism to America through the work of Barbara Heck and Philip Embury. It seemed a fascinating coincidence that he had been appointed to the very church where this window was now installed! 

Our final visit was to Knock Presbyterian Church. Following the welcome by the Rev. David Moore, Manus described how the church had grown and changed since the original design by the architects, Young and Mackenzie, with additions of transepts, galleries and halls to the rear. The afternoon ended with tea and biscuits in one of the newer halls and an informative talk on maintenance.  Jennifer Stutt, our Chair, closed the event, thanked everyone for taking part and reminded everyone to keep an eye on the website for the details of next year's walk.

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