A 95-year-old bell-ringer has described the hobby as the perfect “mindfulness” which helped him after the loss of his beloved wife.
Cyril Galbraith, originally from Limerick but an adopted Dubliner, has been ringing church bells since 1938. And while most people retire by 65, Cyril has clocked up 81 years ringing.
Mr Galbraith’s friends at Christ Church Taney in Dundrum, south Dublin, celebrated his devotion with the first Cyril Galbraith Bell-Ringing Competition last weekend, won by a team of ringers from across Ireland.
“It was an emotional day because it was in my honour due to my length of time bell-ringing,” he said.
“I started ringing in Limerick in 1938 and I’ve met a lot of people over the years.
“I met my wife, Anne, through bell-ringing but unfortunately she passed away in 1997.
“She was playing bowls on a Thursday night and had passed on a Saturday night after an aneurysm.
“After Anne passed away, bell-ringing was more important than ever.
“It was very meditative and a social occasion, which meant I wasn’t alone.
“I’d encourage anyone to take bell-ringing up because it’s great fun and such a fantastic way to socialise.”
The Most Revd Dr Michael Jackson, Anglican Archbishop of Dublin, visited the church in Dundrum last weekend to view the competition and meet its longest ringer.
Mr Galbraith, also a judge, was overcome with emotion afterwards, in disbelief that such an event had been organised in his honour.
One of the youngest ringers at the church currently is 10-year-old Jacob O’Rourke, who is hoping to learn the craft.
“Some people learn in a couple of weeks, some take years,” Mr Galbraith said.
“I’ve heard Jacob is very good.”
His bell-ringing colleague Michael Ryan came up with the idea to organise an annual competition in Mr Galbraith’s honour.
“Cyril is like a superstar,” he said. “He well deserved such recognition. Having the competition in his honour was like a lottery win to him, he was overcome.
“We wanted to show appreciation for all his years of dedication.
“I’ve been ringing for 40 years and I’d love to see more people coming along to have a go.
“Our practice night is Wednesday, so people should come along and try it out.”