St Anthony of Egypt Church, Scotland Road - Second Annual Beer Festival; This Week

Article excerpt

Byline: Mike Chapple at the bar...

WHO would have thought that so much pleasure could be gained from the land of the dead?

This crossed the mind without a hint of crass disrespect as we supped at the second annual beer festival held in the crypt of St Anthony of Egypt church, on Scottie Road.

Parish priest Graeme Dunne came up with the inspired idea to raise money for a memorial to those who fled the Irish potato famine, only to die in their thousands from disease and poverty in the slums which used to fester in the shadow of this imposing building.

After the word-of-mouth success of last year's festival, this one was bound to be a sell-out - and so it's proved, although a few tickets remain for today's afternoon session.

All 40 ales were still intact when Yours Truly and occasional Pub Column companion The Tyke got there for early doors on a fine and crisp autumnal first night.

This was his introduction to the sombre but strangely peaceful atmosphere that permeates a place where Terry McGunigle's memorial sculpture is taking shape standing sentinel over the sealed chambers which hold the bones of the unnamed dead re-interred there. It portrays a grieving mother placing a hand of solace on the shoulder of her husband holding the body of their dead child. Father Graeme hopes that the sculpture, together with its carved inscription, will be ready in time to celebrate the feast days of All Saints and All Souls at the beginning of November.

Meanwhile, he's optimistic that the money raised from this year's festival will not only finish off the payment for the sculpture, but also serve to fund essential repairs to the crypt: the light fittings need replacing and there is an increasing amount of water leakage. …