An eccentric Anglican bishop whose commitment to religious equality during Irish penal times included organising races with Presbyterian
clergy and allowing Catholics to say Mass at his home has been remembered on the north coast.
A tourist trail from the Giant’s Causeway to Londonderry, including some of the key locations in his life, was dedicated last Thursday to the man
known as the “Earl Bishop”.
Frederick Hervey, Earl of Bristol and builder of striking mansions and churches along the North Coast, was a wealthy philanthropist and worldly traveller who served as Bishop of Derry until his death in 1803.
Historian Jim Hunter said: “He devoted as much of his time to the Roman Catholic and Presbyterian communities as to his own flock from the Church of Ireland.”
“He had a sense of humour and each year he organise horse race on the strand in Downhill which Mussenden Temple overlooks between the Church of Ireland clerics and the Presbyterian clerics.”
The tourist trail includes markers from the Causeway to places like Downhill, a National Trust property which features the striking Mussenden Temple, which the Earl ordered be modelled upon a similar building in Italy after failing to have the original transported from there.
A booklet, map and website - the latter developed by Northern Regional College students - has been produced by the U3A’s of Causeway and Foyle with financial support from the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland, the Honourable The Irish Society, The National Trust, Edwin May Motors and ASDA.
Mr Huntersaid: “What we are going to do is put up sign boards along the trail and we are hoping to have perhaps somewhere along the trail a statue of the Earl Bishop.”