Bishop’s Letter February 2022

February is with us with winter giving way to spring. The days are stretching out. Sunrise yesterday in Cavan was a glorious sight. The sky was bathed in a burnt orange glow. The clouds in the orange-coloured dawn warned that rain was on the way, as the well-known weather lore says: “Red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning.” Just ahead of the rain came another glorious sight, a flight of around twenty swans above the roof of the See House. They were whooper swans with distinctive yellow beaks.

Whooper swans are one of the largest flying birds. Adults have wingspans over seven feet. Every autumn they fly from their breeding grounds in Iceland to winter in Ireland and Britain. They are attracted to the wet lands of Upper Lough Erne and Lough Oughter, often returning to the same fields year after year. Whoopers can live well into their twenties which is unusual in the bird world. The sight of them flying and making their distinctive trumpeting sound is a wonder to behold and cheered a winter’s day.

To date the winter has been unusually mild, but it could yet have a sting in the tail. Remember the so-called Beast from the East which sent bitterly cold winds then snow In February 2018, four years ago now. We have been so absorbed by Covid that the weather goes unnoticed to a large extent. Other things are on our minds.

The death of Lady Farnham, in late December was announced in the national and regional papers. Lady Farnham, who was ninety, served as a lady-in waiting to Queen Elizabeth for over thirty years. She accompanied the Queen on many engagements, including her historic visit to Ireland in 2011. A former press secretary to the Queen was quoted in The Times as saying that Lady Farnham was “a very glamorous figure with a wonderful sense of humour.”

Diana Gunnis, married Barry Maxwell, the 12thBaron Farnham in 1959. The Maxwells acquired land in Co. Cavan in the seventeenth century and in time became the largest landowners in the county The Farnham seat was just outside Cavan town. Lord and Lady  Farnham, divided their time between Cavan and London until Lord Farnham’s death in 2001. The following year, the House and Estate were sold to become the Farnham Estate and Golf resort. She is survived by two daughters and four grandchildren who live in England. Her remains are due to be laid in the family vault after a service in Kilmore Cathedral this month.

The Scriptures teach us that the seasons come and go and that people too, have their coming and going That’s just the way it is. The writer of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament, reminds us that there is a time and season for everything under heaven in chapter 3 and verses 1 to 8. Time waits for nobody. In verse 14 the author writes, “ I know that everything that God does will last forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it.”

In all the seasons and changes of life we look to God and find an anchor and firm footing in the unsteadiness of these times.