Faith Matters

Church of Ireland stamps its mark on 150th anniversary of disestablishment

An Post has issued a €1 stamp to mark the 150th anniversary of the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland

AN Post has issued a stamp to mark the 150th anniversary of the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland.

It features an image depicting the sun, moon and stars taken from a stained-glass panel in Saint Fin Barre's Cathedral in Cork.

The Church of Ireland was officially disestablished on 1 January 1871, a move which meant it was no longer tied to the Church of England or to the state.

Disestablishment, along with Home Rule and the Land Act, was part of British Prime Minister William Gladstone's efforts to deal with 'the Irish question'.

Disestablishment was of national importance, removing the status of a state Church that had commanded the allegiance of only a minority of the population.

Archbishop of Dublin Dr Michael Jackson explained that disestablishment "has enabled the Church of Ireland to be free to shape its own future".

"Today's Church of Ireland wants to invest the energy of that freedom in the life of today's Irish society," he said.

"When the Irish Church Act 1869 dissolved the union between the Church of Ireland and the state, an early strategist of the disestablished church said that the Church of Ireland was 'free to shape her future course, independent of state control' and focus on its own personal and spiritual mission."

Disestablishment meant that the Church of Ireland was able "to find afresh its independence and mission".

"It has conferred freedom for laity and clergy to develop a synodical way of life and understanding and to engage with confidence with those of other traditions," said Dr Jackson.

The sun, moon and stars panel which inspired the stamp - designed by Dublin studio Vermillion Design - is one of 74 windows in the cathedral which feature the watercolour paintings of William Burges.

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