Welcome to the Web-site of the “friends of Portaferry Presbyterian Church”.
Portaferry is a small market town at the tip of the Ards Peninsula in County Down, Northern Ireland. The Hey-Day of the town was in the mid-1800s and it was then that Portaferry Presbyterian Church, widely acknowledged as one of the best Greek Revival buildings in Great Britain and Ireland, was built. The church hovers over the roof line of the town and whether one approaches from the sea, from Windmill Hill above the town, or on foot it is an iconic and incongruous sight: a perfectly replicated, free-standing Greek temple in a small Irish provincial town.
The building was designed by John Millar, a young Irish architect who had trained with Hopper in London, and is thought to be his premier achievement. Not long after its completion he emigrated to New Zealand and died in relative obscurity. It is modelled on the Temple of Nemesis on the Greek Island of Rhamnous (although this has been contested) but Professor Margaret Myles of the University of California, and a world authority on that ruin, is convinced of its lineage. Whilst it is still used for regular Sunday worship the friends felt that with its wonderfully live acoustic, seating for nearly 500, Edwardian Evans and Barr organ and superb architecture it could, and should, be used and shared much more widely. To that end the friends of PPC (a registered charity [ref XT5469]), with the permission of the Minister, Session and Committee of the Church, aim to celebrate the diversity of the heritage of our region and also to bring arts events of international calibre to Portaferry. What profits we make are used to run further events and to contribute to the general restoration and development of the building. Thus far, we have completely refurbished the Main Entrance Hall, installed two new stops on the organ and equipped the central heating with a thermostatic control.
FPPC has also embarked on a major fund raising campaign, details of which appear elsewhere on this site, and we have been greatly encouraged by our success in our round one Heritage Lottery Fund application and the award of a substantial Development Grant to enable us to submit our Round Two application. We are also thrilled that we have selected Bill Maxwell of Maxwell Pierce Architects, Enniskillen, through a design competition, as the architect for this project.
FPPC also seeks to involve the community directly in the Arts: we support the NewQuay Singers, a community choir that is made up of amateur musicians from a 60 mile radius. In addition we have a very active education programme including, to date, workshops for singing, string quartets and brass players. We also organised a highly successful day in celebration of the architecture of Portaferry Presbyterian Church when an international panel of speakers put the building into its historical and architectural context.
Details of our previous events are available on this website and have included the Choir of the Royal Hospital Chelsea; a stupendous jazz evening featuring Brenda Rattray; the choir of Westminster Cathedral; the Chilingirian String Quartet; His Majesty’s Sagbutts and Cornetts; Rebekah Coffey and David Quigley, the internationally acclaimed soprano and pianist; the Rietz Octet; the Mornington Singers from Dublin; Craig Ogden and, most recently, Lynda Barrett, Jenny Bourke and the Ulster String Quartet in a night in celebration of the Irish Voice.
For 2013 our Portaferry Proms series begins with our now annual Tenebrae Service on Good Friday 29th March: this year the NewQuay Singers will be accompanied by the Ireland String Quartet and Richard Campbell, organ, as they present Haydn’s Seven Last Words of Christ. We have a superb stable of young and very brilliant soloists: Mary McCabe, soprano, Laura Lamph, alto, Luke Sinclair, tenor and Nathan Morrison, bass. We are thrilled that Roma Tommelty will be the narrator for this service.
On Saturday 18th May the Endellion String Quartet will play Haydn, Janacek and Beethoven. On Saturday 13th of July the David Rees-Williams Jazz Trio will give their own inimitable interpretation of the classics and, finally, on Saturday 21st of September we will welcome Finghin and Dearbhla Collins to perform Haydn, Chopin, Debussy and Schubert. Quite a line up for 2013!
From very small beginnings ‘The friends of PPC’ is making its mark both locally and far beyond Portaferry: as we enter into a phase of fundraising, refurbishment and restoration and as our plans for the building to become a beacon for Heritage – factual and practical, begin to take shape we are hugely excited. We hope we can count on your support and we look forward to welcoming you to Portaferry on many occasions.