The Revd Dr Anne-Marie O’Farrell has made an enormous contribution to our parishes by sharing her faith and musicianship. It was only fitting that the Farewell Service for her was a joyous morning of prayers, a celebration of her work, and beautiful instrumental playing and singing.
On Sunday 6 March 2022, at Sandford Church, both parishes celebrated and thanked Revd O’Farrell for all of the time and talent that she has shared with us during her tenure in Sandford and St Philip’s, Milltown. Revd Gyles, together with David O’Shea and in consultation with Revd O’Farrell herself, had drawn up a very personal service which included a choral piece written by Revd O’Farrell and which had its premiere at the service, You Are The Way. We were also treated to prelude music by Eleanor Gaffney (violin) and Cormac de Barra (harp).
Revd O’Farrell’s international reputation as a renowned harpist and composer has, over the time that she has been with the parishes, allowed us all to benefit not only from her own talent but also by hearing performances by her many friends and supporters in the musical fraternity. Her own family and friends were part of the large congregation at the service, with many more joining remotely from the live-stream.
Revd O’Farrell had also arranged a number of the pieces in the service, including the choral piece, Be Still and Know that I am God and the organ voluntary Sir Festus Burke. David O’Shea had led the choir over a number of dedicated rehearsals and, as always, ensured that the best possible performance could be given by way of thank you to Revd O’Farrell. The choir is particularly indebted to her not only for the special pieces and arrangements that she has written for them but also for bringing so much music into the church, as well as stepping in to sing with the choir on occasion. Revd O’Farrell did all of this selflessly when she has over the years also had difficult periods of adversity which she has borne with grace.
All of these tributes were apparent from the very personal, thoughtful and generous address given by Revd Gyles. The good team-work between Revd Gyles and Revd O’Farrell was never clearer from the reflections that each gave. We have all benefitted hugely from their collaboration over the years, and the parishes are clearly the better for such collegiality. I recall some visitors to the parish who came to an Easter evening service commenting particularly on the wonderful sight of our two calm and capable clerics who presented a modern yet reassuring picture of unity as they led the service. We will remember this from the Farewell Service, most particularly.
Gifts were presented to Revd O’Farrell from the parishes, the choir, the Sunday School children and the school Board of Management. In turn, two beautiful cut glass jugs were presented by Revd O’Farrell to each of the parishes, for use at Communion and these have already been pressed into service.
After this pitch perfect tribute, we went into the sunshine for an outdoor reception of savoury and sweet treats and refreshments, sharing our stories and well-wishing, sending the best of luck for Anne-Marie’s next exciting stage in her life. Thank you Anne-Marie, for all that you have shared with us and given to us. We will miss you terribly and look forward to you visiting so that we can share in your future successes and achievements. Margaret Leahy