The bell-ringers of St Patrick’s, Dumbarton

John Rainey, a parishioner of St. Patrick’s Dumbarton, writes:

In our parish we have a 23 bell carillon which I have played for many years on appropriate occasions. Our present PP (Canon G. Conroy) had the installation professionally overhauled about three years ago which resulted in increased use and more people taking interest. As a result on All Saints Day this year we formally founded the Company of St. Patrick’s Carillonneurs (of which I am the current director) with about eight members. The aim is essentially to enhance the liturgy and in general raise the local catholic profile in the local community. We also want to develop the art in younger people.

We are in informal contact with a church in Birmingham (St. Theresa of Lisieux and Our Lady of the Rosary, Saltley) with a near identical instrument modelled on our own, there being a historical connection with both parishes in the 1930’s. The carillonneur there is an accomplished player and has visited St. Patrick’s in the past. He is also involved in the British Carillon Society of which we are currently not members as it essentially an English based organisation which raises practical difficulties due to distance.

Although none of us are professional musicians, (I am a retired chemistry teacher) we write and adapt music ourselves to be able to play hymns, carols etc. within the two octave range available (C to C” less the two lowest semi-tones) and we are currently in the early stages of establishing a music library. We also will play appropriate secular items from time to time. To give the group identity and a degree of dignity (you may imagine how often I have heard “Quasi Modo” over the years) we have established a constitution and logo, see attachment produced in booklet form.

Currently we play on Sundays after our 10 and 12 Masses and activity at the moment centres around getting some of our “learners” into shape for Christmas. We have a home made practice instrument available for that.