Charles Frederick d'Arcy

He was born in Dublin on 2nd January, 1859. He was the son of John C d’Arcy of Mount Tallant, County Dublin, a grandson of John d’Arcy of Hydepark, County Westmeath and a direct descendant of Sir William d’Arcy of Platten a son of John d’Arcy, first Lord d’Arcy de Knayth who fought at the Battle of Crecy in 1346.

He was educated at Trinity College Dublin where he was first mathematical scholar of his year and senior moderator and gold medallist in Moral Philosophy. He graduated BA in 1882 with a first-class Divinity Testimonium and proceeded to the degree of MA in 1892. In 1898 he qualified as BD and two years later was granted the degree of DD.

He was ordained to the curacy of Saint Thomas’s, Belfast, in 1884. In 1890 he was appointed rector of Billy in County Antrim. Three years later he was elected rector of the united parishes of Ballymena and Ballyclug. On the election of Dean O’Hara to the See of Cashel, Dr d’Arcy was chosen to succeed him as Vicar of Belfast and was appointed Dean of Saint Anne’s at which time he resigned a canonry in Connor Cathedral. He was also examining chaplain to Bishop Welland and served as chaplain to both Earl Cadogan and the Earl of Dudley during their respective tenures as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.

Towards the end of 1902 Dr Stack retired from the Bishopric of Clogher and in January 1903 d’Arcy was elected to succeed him and was consecrated to the office in Armagh cathedral on 24th February. He remained in the diocese of Clogher for four years when he was then elected to succeed Dr Crozier as Bishop of Ossory, Crozier having been appointed Bishop of Down and Connor and Dromore. Coincidentally, d’Arcy then replaced Crozier after an election by the Synod in Clarence Place Hall, Belfast on 28th March 1911. He was consecrated Bishop of Down, Connor and Dromore on 9th May 1911. His enthronement as Bishop took place in Belfast Cathedral on 9th May 1911. Four days later his enthronement as Bishop of Connor took place in Lisburn Cathedral.

In August, 1919, Dr d’Arcy was appointed Archbishop of Dublin, Bishop of Glendalough and Kildare and Primate of Ireland Metropolitan. He was succeeded as Bishop by C T P Grierson. The following June Dr d’Arcy was elected to succeed the Most Reverend Dr Crozier as Primate of All Ireland and Metropolitan.

Dr d’Arcy’s wife, from Belfast, died from a heart attack while on a cruise to the West Indies in the summer of 1932. They had three daughters, one of which was Lady Dunleath, and a son, Captain J C d’Arcy, MC, Royal Artillery, who was wounded on the North-West Frontier of India in 1931. In June 1937 it was announced that Dr d’Arcy would retire due to ill health but he continued until his death at the Palace, Armagh, on 1st February 1938.d'Arcy in his autobiography "The Adventures of A Bishop" describes his time as Dean of Belfast, thus, "In February 1900, and while the work was in this condition, Dean O'Hara was elected to the Bishopric of Cashel; and, early in March of the same year, the Board of Nomination elected me Vicar of Belfast, an office which still survived, and to this the bishop added the higher office of dean of the new cathedral. Thus suddenly and most unexpectedly I found myself called to undertake a duty for which I discerned in myself no special capacity, and for which no experience had prepared me. Nor was it a very stimulating task, because I came into it at a stage at which the inevitable tendency was towards reaction. The first burst of enthusiasm was over; there was as yet little to show, because the very important and substantial work which was going on was largely underground; the willing subscribers had given their contributions and the time had not come for another big effort; the church in which divine service had to be carried on was but a fragment, and the discomforts of its circumstances were many. On the other hand, I found myself surrounded by a body of parishioners whose loyalty and generous sympathy could not be surpassed. It was a pure delight to be associated with such people. The cathedral board also was a model of all that such a body should be. It was representative of the diocese as well as of the city and parish. Among its members were men of wisdom and experience, who gave of their best. Especially I must mention Herbert Ewart, a member of a family which for generations has been at the top in the world of commerce in Ulster; Garrett Campbell, a man of high cultivation and admirable taste, also of sound common sense; Henry Johns, an old college friend, who had got his gold medal in philosophy when I got mine, one of the leading bankers of Belfast; Tom Torrens, the soul of kindliness and hospitality, whose house was ever a centre of good fellowship; H. R. Joynt, the hon. secretary, who spared no pains in keeping our business affairs in perfect order; and the two Trelfords, of a family long connected with St. Anne's. As I recall the critical decisions which had to be made during the course of the building and the questions touching difficult problems of the art and science of building which had to be discussed with our architect, I realise how much I owed to these men.

"Nor was it only in these directions that I found the needful help. I soon discovered that, as the work progressed, further efforts to raise money would become inevitable. We had enough to carry out the actual contracts in hand, but, in view of a possible opening of the great nave for divine service, it became clear that large sums would be necessary for additions which had hardly been realised at the start. I suppose this is always the way with a great undertaking of the kind. Our architect, Sir Thomas Drew, was a real artist. His conception of the building, as he meant it to be ultimately, was magnificent. With him, imagination was ever apt to soar far beyond the sordid details of pounds, shillings, and pence. Nor do I blame him for this. A cathedral should be, in all its parts, a work of high art: the prosaic measurements of time, space, and money are surely secondary considerations. It was our architect's task to lure us on by revealing the vision; but it was the board's task to see that the limits of possibility were not passed. Here they showed rare tact and wisdom, yet with no niggardly spirit. We were fortunate in having another authority to consult-Mr. R. Lynn, a very accomplished architect, a close friend and associate of Drew's, whose advice we were always at liberty to secure. Our builders also Messrs. Laverty of Belfast - were all that we could desire. The building of the cathedral was to these excellent brothers a high and holy task which they delighted to perform, and to which they devoted the most affectionate care.

"With such men as these to keep us within prudent limits, and to point the way, it yet became clear to me that, with a view to the opening of the nave for use as a cathedral, it would be necessary to increase our available building funds. But all those able and willing to give large sums had contributed a short time previously. I saw that the only possible appeal at the time would be for small subscriptions from the people of Belfast. With this aim, a committee of ladies came to my help, a plan of campaign was organised, and in quite a short time a sum of £7,000 was realised in small contributions. I think this effort was productive of far more than could be estimated by the amount of money raised. The working people of Belfast, who had given their shillings to the building fund, felt that they had a share in the making of their great cathedral church.

"While Dean of Belfast, I had the help of able curates; especially I must mention Arthur Ross, who was with me in Ballymena, and was soon elected Rector of Portrush on the north coast of Antrim, becoming, later in life, Bishop of Tuam. Also T. W. E. Drury, who was afterwards Rector of Rostrevor, is now of Raheny near Dublin, becoming after a time Canon Drury. He has done notable work in the cause of Christian Reunion."