Our beautiful J.W. Walker Organ at the back of the church is in bad need of restoration. 2011 marks the centenary of the building of this fine instrument and, save for a large cleaning job in 1953 and some tonal alterations in the 1980s, it is substantially the same musical instrument that was built in 1911. What previous congregations have put off till tomorrow we can no longer afford to put off anymore. In the last few years, even since various organ builders, tuners and other colleagues pointed out that the organ was in need of extensive repair, there have been regular syphers on the organ ( notes continue, after I have let go of them) as well as notes not playing and air leakaging from the pipes. The pipes themselves need to be releathered and the internal workings of the organ need to be completely refurbished in order to hand it on to the next generation of music-loving Dublin Unitarians. I’d like to clarify – this is not something 'cool' Josh would like to do. This is essential maintenance work on one of a most beautiful part of our church. The time to act is now.
Templebreedy Church of Ireland church in Crosshaven, West Cork have recently launched their brand new rebuilt pipe organ. It’s very impressive and cost €350,000. Every penny was raised by the congregation – cake sales, concerts, dream auctions, pipe sponsoring, sponsored cycles. They just dug in and did what needed to be done to raise the money. St. Finbarr’s Cathedral in Cork have just launched an appeal to raise €1.2m to restore their organ. Everyone is saying they’re mad but I’d say they’ll get there. Against the odds.
Highly esteemed Irish organ-builder Trevor Crowe has put in a very competitively priced proposal (for what he’s proposing to do) of €220,000 before VAT. What he will leave us with is a very high quality instrument for worship use but also with recital potential so that we can put on recitals when the church is not being used as a church. It will also be an instrument that we shouldn’t need to touch save tuning for at least 50 years, probably longer. There was some money left over from the previous restoration project and there is some money already coming in from events which have been flagged as Organ Restoration Fund events. Some (but minimal) money will come from various pots of money like grants and other bursaries which we will apply for but the lion’s share will have to come from you, the congregation of this fine church.
It may seem selfish to persevere with this project in the context of our current economical crisis but, with respect, it’s not. The Organ Restoration Committee and I feel this is important for us all to have a pipe organ in proper working order and to recital standard. This will bring people more people in the doors and hopefully help pay for itself in years to come as well as leave future generations of Unitarians and Dubliners with a rich musical legacy within this church.
There are lots of things that can already be done in whatever small or large way fits your circumstances. Here’s some ideas;
Sponsor a pipe. Sponsorship scheme (pipes at €25, €50, €100, €250, €500) with names of all the sponsors entered in a volume to be published in time for the launch of the newly restored organ.
Everybody knows people who are interested in music, old buildings, old musical instruments, organisations persevering for good causes despite hard times etc etc. We must branch out to friends, framily and other potentially interested parties. Don’t be afraid of boring people. It’s – at the very least – a great story. Host a dinner party on the Organ Restoration Fund Dinner Party Night during the first week in April 2011. As many guests as you feel comfortable with. Everyone pays in – profits or full amount goes to fund. Again, don’t confine yourself to congregation. Everyone should know this story. Come to one or more of the various choral concerts to be staged by various choirs through the first half of 2011 – Gaudete Siingers 30th May, New Dublin Voices 17th September, others to be announced Make a regular donation by standing order (for whatever figure you feel comfortable with) or a larger one-off donation. If you become aware of other people who you don’t want to approach yourself, let us know and we can send them a brochure. Set yourself a challenge and get people to sponsor you to do it. Rental income on events is being fed into the organ restoration fund. Please support these – details of secular events in the church can be found at www. Goodacoustics.net which is also linked through from the churches’ newly launched website. Please also encourage your friends or colleagues to use the church as a venue as the rental income from these events will help the organ restoration appeal. If we have the continued support of everyone involved in this church, I and the fundraising committee will be working like an ass to make this work but we can’t do it on our own. There are so many things all of us can do – big and small – and the size of the individual job doesn’t have to be big. Everything shifts us towards that finishing line. This is not going to happen overnight but we must persevere and we must start the job now. This job that we must do is to restore the Walker Organ to its former glory a lynchpin in the music worship of this church. It is my hope that, while doing this, we grow as a congregation and as a community.