Busy festive season for historic location

Downshire School clarinet players Nicola Johnston, David Lyle and Amy Barnes performing at the carol service in St Nicholas' Parish Church. INCT 52-791-CON
Downshire School clarinet players Nicola Johnston, David Lyle and Amy Barnes performing at the carol service in St Nicholas' Parish Church. INCT 52-791-CON

The festive season has been particularly busy for the historic St Nicholas’ Parish Church in the centre of Carrickfergus.

Christmas day celebrations conclude a period stretching back to November when St Nicholas’ was the venue for the civic carol service ahead of the switching on ceremony for the town’s decorations.

The civic carol service was led by the rector, Reverend George Davison and featured CWA Brass and Eden Primary School and Victoria Primary School.

The Mayor, Alderman Charles Johston, also delivered his Christmas message from the church which dates back to 1182.

Writing in the most recent edition of the church magazine, Rev Davidson stated: “At St Nicholas’ we count it a great privilege to offer the hospitality of our building for acts of Christian worship by the wider Carrickfergus community.”

He explained the church was welcoming pupils and staff, family and friends from Central Primary School, Carrickfergus Grammar School and Downshire School over the season.

In the middle of the month, the children from the church’s morning and afternoon Sunday schools presented the story of Christmas.

Rev Davidson added that St Nicholas’ “are very grateful to them and their teachers”.

The annual Service of Nine Lessons and Carols was scheduled at evening service on Sunday past.

Pointing out the choir had been working hard to prepare for this important service, Rev Davidson described it as “a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the Christmas story in word and song”.

He also extended an invitation for members of the community to join them for Christmas Eve or Christmas morning for worship too: (8.30am) Christmas Day Holy Communion and (10.30am) Christmas Day Family Service.

Rev Davidson’s views on life at St Nicholas’ around this season were echoed by curate Rev Peter Ferguson, on his last Christmas in the borough before moving to a new post in Castlederg.

He said: “St Nicholas’ is always full of the life, love, joy and hope of advent through so many activities. We especially love to welcome the local Carrickfergus community into our church at this time of year: with many schools’ carol services being held and also through the civic community carol service.

“On Sunday (December 14) we welcomed our Sunday schools into the main morning service for their carol and nativity play service.”