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- Christmas & New Year 2022 -

From the Editor

It seems like I might have missed an issue or two of the newsletter.  All kidding aside, it was neither writer's block, nor laziness - more a matter of things happening at the church faster than we can write about them.

Yes, a lot goes on at the church, every day, not just the Sunday service. And those are good things, as in the Greek word literally translating to good news, that then became the Anglo-Saxon word for good story, from which we get our word gospel. A lot of people coming by, stopping in, and being touched in some way - It is a good story, a gospel, our living gospel. Unfortunately, our retelling of it here is even more abridged than the original four evangelists and their writing of the canonical gospels.

So for this issue, we will focus on some of the ways that Cork Unitarian Church is reaching out as a living member of the local Cork community. How we let people meet us, learn about us and see what we value. It's not done by preaching or handing out tracts. It is done by being more present in the everyday life of Cork city - by helping to make Cork a more vibrant community and encouraging people to live more fully.

Perhaps that even aligns with some theme for Christmas, maybe even more than one. Of course, all of this happens through your support, for which we are most grateful. I'm looking forward to sharing more of our good news in 2023. Until then have a blessed Christmas and a safe, happy, and prosperous New Year.

Peace and blessings 
Neal Dunnigan, Editor

Christmas Editorial Decisions

From the Minister

As you read this the best, and maybe the “not so” best, of Christmas may already be over and I hope you had a happy, peaceful, and holy Christmas. One which allowed you to take time out to relax, recharge the batteries and realise that life calls each of us to engage with its depth, awe, and mystery - however we name it and however it seeks to find expression in each of us. 

With its bright lights, carols, Christmas songs and this year's bitterly cold weather, Christmas often carries with it a huge weight of expectation and that continues as we head into the start of another new year. In recent years that expectation was tempered by the uncertainty that COVID-19 brought into all our lives. Most thankfully, it appears that is not again the case and as we begin 2023. We should not forget our gratitude to those who fought the virus on our behalf, those who provided essential service, served the sick, and brought us the vaccines that have proved to keep us safe as a country.

We will look back at 2022 with the usual mixed emotions. Every year presents us with a similar melting pot of feelings and experiences which both makes life interesting and also reminds us of our common circumstances. Having said that, each of our journeys is different and if you have a need for this new year to be better than the last, then I hope it is. The new year invites us to hope. Hope is in our DNA; we are programmed to hope. Our human nature is to look to the future with expectation and anticipation and why shouldn’t we? There is nothing wrong with wanting our lives and circumstances to be the best they can. I do not subscribe to the old church view that life is a “valley of tears”, a pit stop on the way to somewhere else. So, whatever your hopes and wishes for 2023 may they come to pass. However, just as dreams do not always come true, wishes are seldom automatically granted - they are worked at. So let that work begin.

Church-wise, we begin another year and, like with most churches, it looks to be a challenging one. Post-COVID church numbers across all denominations have fallen but we are hopeful and energised. Our new chapel has given our congregation, those present and would be, a new lease of life. The streaming of our Sunday services on Facebook has helped us to reach a far wider and judging from the figures, a truly international audience stretching from the USA to Finland and even Hong Kong. As we head into this new year, I cannot thank enough those of you who support this church; wether you do so in person or virtually. Those who give what they can to help us meet our obligations and keep the lights on; thank you for your generosity. It once again reminds us that community is not a meeting and church is not an address.

As we head into a new year, I am optimistic, I will continue to work diligently and in this I am joined by the church committee, all of whom, unlike me, do not get paid. Very often as minister I am naturally to the forefront. Such perceptions can be misleading. This is a team effort and in Neal, Colm, Teresa and Pearse, we have a committee who's members are selfless in their dedication and commitment to this church. I would be lost without them. To each of them, you have my deepest thanks for all you do, the many unseen voluntary hours you put in.

So, lets head into the new year confident of the road ahead, confident in our faith and above all confident in each other.

Rev. Mike O’Sullivan, Minister

Colm, Teresa and Sam getting ready for customers

Jumble Sales

On Saturday the 5th of November we held our first ever Jumble Sale to raise funds for the work of and the upkeep of our historic city centre church. As you can imagine the day to day running costs have to be met and our energy and other suppliers are not keen on accepting the promise of prayer in lieu of payment! The Jumble Sale was the idea of church committee member Teresa Goggin who on the committee acts as our safeguarding Officer. The day was a great success especially in terms of footfall into the church hall with many of the visitors never having been inside the building before, some not even previously aware that it is an active church!

Of course, this would not have been possible without the generosity of church members and others not even connected with us who so generously gave items for the sale. We are also grateful to Lydia and her team at our next-door neighbours; Starbucks who provided free tea and coffee as well as cakes for the church team and visitors alike.

Given the success of the day, we are planning to make our Jumble Sale a regular event with the next one planned for mid to late January. The date has yet to be confirmed so keep an eye on our Facebook/Instagram pages and the church calendar. To all who donated, help run the day and most of all to those who purchased, thank you.

Unitarian Art Spotlight - Art for the Soul and Soulful
Cork Unitarian Church has had a long tradition of patronising the arts. While the architectural ethos of our physical church building was designed to be minimalistic with regard to religious art, members of our congregation have long been promoters of art and culture in Cork City. This includes them being among the original drivers that established Corks' Crawford Art Museum. Among our past artistic congregants was the noted Irish painter, Daniel Maclise (1806-1870), a close friend of and illustrator for the English Unitarian and author, Charles Dickens.

The Unitarian Art Spotlight is our way of using the church hall to rekindle this tradition, because we believe that art lifts the spirit and gives us focused awareness on that same spirit.

We do this in order to:
  • Raise money for the support of Cork Unitarian Church and its ministries.
  • Showcase and promote local art talent.
  • Contribute to the social and cultural richness of our local community.
  • Raise awareness of Cork Unitarian Church within the larger Cork community.

We kicked off The Unitarian Art Spotlight, on Saturday, 12 November, with Whimsical Women, the art of Cork resident Virginia Giglio. The exhibit included framed original drawings of women done in pastels, ink, and pencil will be sold, and prints, postcards, and special edition greeting cards. 

“The sensitivity and resilience of women is the subject of this whimsical body of work,” says Giglio. “No one specific is portrayed in the art; all are products of imagination, emotion, and whimsy. The end result of viewing my art, I hope, is experiencing moments of deep joy as kindred feelings and experiences are recognised.”

The exhibit was officially opened by Cork Lord Mayor. Cllr. Deidre Forde. Visitors to the exhibit were able to view the collection while listening to the Hifilutin Flute Quartet, the Chroma String Quartet, and the CAFE – Cork Flute Ensemble. Coffee and cakes for the guests were donated by our neighbours at Starbucks

Artist, Virginia Giglio, showing some of the smaller prints and cards.

Cork Lord Mayor, Deirdre Forde, opening remarks for the Whimsical Women show. 

Our next Unitarian Art Spotlight featured artist will be Jokamin and her exhibit titled: Against All Odds.

You can stay on top of future Unitarian Art Spotlight events by checking our web site: Even better, become an active part of the action and help us keep up the buzz by giving us a Like and Follow on Facebook.

Our Unitarian Art Spotlight Facebook page is:

Pulpit Sessions: Heavenly Entertainment for Mortals

Pulpit Sessions is a live music / dramatic arts performance venue in the heart of Cork City Centre - actually it is in our own Cork Unitarian Church hall, where we provide a venue space for bands, performance ensembles, and theatrical troupes, focusing primarily on one-night events.

Great bands, great plays, and great times for serious music listeners and playgoers..

Pulpit Sessions has been designed to:
  • Raise money for the support of Cork Unitarian Church and its ministries.
  • Showcase and promote local art talent.
  • Contribute to the social and cultural richness of our local community.
  • Raise awareness of Cork Unitarian Church within the larger Cork community.

Our Pulpit Sessions grand opening was The Pink Water, a play by Henry Roberts. Two nameless characters meet. They talk. They fall in love. But when depression takes away our capacity for feeling, how can two people be truly intimate? Exploring mental health, memory and modern relationships, The Pink Water examines how depression distorts memory and one’s perception of the world. With just two actors, this intimate, funny and intense play asks whether we can trust our own stories when they are viewed through the lens of depression.

    Do you see the water? 

    It’s dark. Deep. As deep as time. 

    Shall we swim in it? 

    Throw our bodies down the years. 

    Let’s bury ourselves in water.


The play's production company included:


Our next scheduled Pulpit Session event is our annual Carol Service, on Thursday 15-December. This will be our first Carol Service since the lockdowns of the COVID-19 pandemic. The programme features: The One Voice Choir, O'Donoghue & Dad, and a special Christmas reading by Brian Cluer.

You can stay on top of future
Pulpit Session events by checking our web site: Even better, become an active part of the action and help us keep up the buzz by giving us a Like and Follow on Facebook.

Our Pulpit Session Facebook page is:
And our Pulpit Session Fans Facebook group is at:

Church Courtyard: Our Face to the Street

Here in Cork, we take great pride in the fact that we our city's oldest church. In 2023 this building will celebrate its 306th birthday. Along with that pride comes responsibility and a whole lot of work. The maintenance and upgrading of such a building means that the smallest of jobs leads down a myriad of “rabbit holes” where frequently 300 years of problems rear their heads. 

In recent years and since the appointment of Rev Mike as minister, much work has been done to improve the physical appearance of our building.

This year saw a reconfiguration of the building internally with the new Spirit of Life chapel, a new kitchen and a minister’s office. This has freed up the main space within the building to be used only as a church hall. Early in the new year work will begin to repair plaster work on the church hall walls and repair missing wood trim in the balcony. The church hall will then be painted in the same warm colours as the chapel. 

In the meantime, across the summer, we have concentrated our efforts on the church courtyard.  Our church is on the route of a number of walking tours of Cork and out of town visitors frequently pass by the courtyard exterior. It is not unusual for a tourist to ask to come in for a look see.  Our first improvement was to give our gates and front door were given a makeover in royal blue with gold inlays. Next, our three trees were pruned and cut back. Those upgrades were made possible by a generous donor.  Finally, flowers and shrubs were added to brighten up the front of the building. 

Church signage is always important, and a decision was made to replace the one we had. Our feeling was from experience that church signs can maybe give out too much information that ultimately gets lost. We went with a minimum of words designed to maybe spark an interest, simple easy to read lettering and a bright and appealing background. We also incorporated the ability to trim our signage with seasonal framing and to supplement the main sign with topical announcements such as upcoming events related to Pulpit Sessions and the Unitarian Art Spotlight.

There is much more to be done, the work of improving our building will continue but as we do so we remember the old adage; “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!”



New Church Calendar 

 It might have been Cork's own Roy Keane who once said of his playing days: fail to prepare and prepare to fail. Like all institutions churches run to their own timetable or seasons, this is known as the liturgical calendar. Being a non-creedal church, we have no such denominational constraints on our programme of worship and although we do mark the major seasons such as Christmas and Easter and our national saints (i.e. Patrick and Brigid), we have the freedom to organise and express our services in ways that other churches do not. But heeding the wise words of Roy Keane, nothing is left to chance, and while we are by no means rigid, some level of planning for the year, across all departments, is vital.

To this end, we have published our church calendar for the year 2023. In it we have set aside time throughout the year for so called special services with themes that reflect our ethos and who we strive to be. 

In January we have a Mid-Winter service to help us all through the lull that inevitably comes post-Christmas. Throughout the year we will honour International Women’s Day, remembering our parents both past and present. In April we mark Earth Day and moving through the year we have a Diversity service, an Urban Harvest service and a Water Communion service. In October we are planning an Animal Blessing service, the first of its kind in our church as well as a Festival of Faiths event. During the year we will have open days to coincide with Unitarian Heritage and Affirmation months. Throughout the year we will have guest preachers from both our own and other faith traditions. 

The church calendar is now available on our website by navigating to News and then selecting Events or you can find it directly at: 


Within each calendar event is the ability to add it to your personal electronic calendar. You can also subscribe to the church calendar and allow all of our events to all show up directly on your personal electronic calendar and instantly reflect any calendar updates.


Church Committee 

We thank all each of you who is part of the life of this church wether you encounter us:
  • in-person or on-line
  • as regular congregant or an occasional friend, neighbour, or visitor
  • as a regular contributor or spontaneous benefactor
Your participation and contributions of presence, prayers, time, effort, talent, and funds sustain and grow our community and our ministries.

In our own shared reflections of our committee's role and work during this past year, we felt
a more tangible sense of belonging and being part of an active Church and feel good about our outlook for the Church's future. We have enjoyed seeing the Church come alive through our community events, reaching progressively more people, in the heart of the city. On the personal level, we wish everyone of you a content and peaceful year ahead and pray that we each be ever mindful of all those around us.

A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Cork Unitarian Church Committee:
  • ​Neal Dunnigan (Chairperson)
  • Teresa Goggin (Safeguarding Officer)
  • Colm Noonan (Treasurer)
  • Pearse O’Donoghue (Secretary)

Prayer Circle: Holiday Appeal

How would you send a prayer request to the Prayer Circle?

  • Anyone wanting to ask for a prayer can send an E-Mail to: (this information is also on our church web site and Facebook page).
  • The request will be distributed once to the entire Circle at the next Prayer Circle mailout opportunity.
  • Please repeat your request as necessary and please send news of answered prayer.
  • There is no need to go into detail or name full names - remember, the email will go out far and wide. Please be wise in protecting your own and others' anonymity. 
  • If you have a need that is so personal you wish not to give any detail at all, that's fine. Just write that you request prayer for a special intention. Remember, God knows the details.

Would you like to join the Prayer Circle and pray for others?

  • Simply register as a Prayer Circle member by clicking here:
  • After you have joined, you will be on a mailing list and receive regular posts with prayer requests.
  • It will be your responsibility to keep private anything you learn from a prayer request out of respect.  Do not redistribute or forward the list.


Support Our Ministries:
Holiday Appeal

Be a part of all of Cork Unitarian Church's ministries through your financial support:

This year consider setting up a regular electronic contribution.
That  that way your support of Cork Unitarian Church is:
and automatic.

Here is the link to make that kind of blessing:  Thank you for your support and generosity.
We hope that you enjoy the Unitarian Echoes.
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