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Hey Jude, why would anyone choose that day to wed?

An Ulster Log

By Eddie McIlwaine

Who was the clergyman who got married in St Jude's Parish Church at Muckamore on the worst possible date - October 28 - which just happens to be St Jude's Day?

This will be one of the mysteries that might intrigue the new rector whoever he turns out to be when he is appointed.

Jude, one of the 12 Apostles, is now the Patron Saint of Desperate Cases and Lost Causes.

So why on earth would a rector of the Muckamore Parish actually choose to get wed on St Jude's Day? Who was the bride, how long did the nuptials last in whichever year the bells rang out for the couple on that October 28?

The story of the rector who had such respect for the saintly Jude comes up again now as the parish has a vacancy in its pulpit brought about as the current occupier, the Rev William Orr, moves to St Mark's in Portadown.

Just how the church got its name and is dedicated to Jude is down to the clergyman who was in the pulpit at the opening service way back in 1841. He was the visiting Rev Hugh O'Neill, an evangelical Ulster preacher who was rector of St Jude's in Liverpool at the time. So naturally he decided there just couldn't be anyone better to whom the new place of worship in Co Antrim should be dedicated.

Jude became associated with desperate situations because of a warning he once delivered to churchgoers everywhere who were being persecuted, advising them that the faithful must keep going even in harsh or difficult circumstances.

How true that message becomes today in view of recent horrific attacks on Christians and other innocents.

Jude became a great missionary in his later life and made evangelical missions to Armenia and Russia. He was an old man with many good works behind him when he was axed to death by a mob and so became a martyr in what is now Lebanon along with Simon the Zealot.

Jude's body was eventually placed in a vault at St Peter's Basilica in Rome. Worshippers in the parish are aware that he is also the Patron Saint of the Chicago Police Department.

Ayelet's journey from Munich to Ben-Hur

Actress Ayelet Zurer, who has the role of Naomi in the film Ben-Hur which opens in Belfast on Tuesday, was chosen for her first English-speaking role by Steven Spielberg in his Oscar-nominated film Munich. Since then she has starred in Vantage Point with Dennis Quaid, in Fugitive Pieces opposite Stephen Dillane and in Adam Resurrected opposite Jeff Goldblum.

She also appeared alongside Clive Owen in the movie Last Knights from Japanese director Kazuaki Kiriya.

Ayelet is also a producer, a writer and the illustrator of two books, Shorts and the best seller Badolina by Gabi Nitazn.

She was born and raised in Israel. Her parents were Jewish immigrants to Tel Aviv and her mother spent the Second World War hiding in a convent in Czechoslovakia.

After completing her military service in the Israel Defense Forces, Ayelet moved to the United States to pursue a Hollywood career. She now lives in California.

Saints above, can Anthony help us find our lost rings?

Still on a saintly subject, I've received a letter from somebody called Gwen (she doesn't provide me with her surname) asking me if there is a Patron Saint of Lost Property who might help her find a wedding ring which once belonged to her late mother.

I can tell Gwen that this saintly one is Anthony of Padua (1195-1231), a Franciscan preacher and an instructor in theology.

Apparently his sermons were so inspiring that in France and Italy where he travelled he was known as the Hammer of the Heretics. Pope Gregory IX who canonized him in 1232 called him the Ark of the Covenant.

I hope this information helps Gwen in her search for that precious ring.

But I have to tell her that this Patron Saint of Lost Property hasn't so far been of any help to me in my search for a signet ring my old granny bought me for my 21st and which disappeared. So where is my ring Anthony?

My words read out in Lord's house

I'm indebted to the Rev John Dickinson for carrying on a McIlwaine tradition at my former Carnmoney Presbyterian Church that was started way back in the late 1950s by legendary minister Samuel H Nicholson who baptised me and encouraged me to go into journalism.

The late Mr Nicholson, who had family connections with the Belfast Telegraph, used to read snippets I had written in my newspaper columns to his village congregation on occasional Sabbaths. And the tradition was kept going by ministers John Ferguson, Stafford Carson, who buried my father in 1999, and James Fullerton.

So I was flattered when the latest minister, Mr Dickinson, last Sunday morning read a piece I wrote in last week's Ulster Log about mighty changes that have taken place at the congregation where I grew up.

As a boy I was up in the old pulpit now and again reading the lesson. And the late Sydney Gillespie once tried in vain to teach me to play the organ on which he accompanied the hymns. Oldtimer Israel Abernethy and I know where the secrets of Carnmoney and its church are buried, but we keep them to ourselves.

Errol Flynn and John Wayne in same spot ... must be the Park

If it were still around today this would be the 80th anniversary of the day the silver screen was fitted in the new Park Cinema at the junction of Oldpark Road and Torrens Avenue, Belfast - in preparation for the opening of the picture house just before Christmas 1936.

The opening blockbuster was a charity performance of The Three Musketeers starring Walter Able. The official opening was on December 14 with Captain Blood starring Errol Flynn, a frequent visitor to Belfast, on the screen.

"The Park was referred to in ads as Belfast's Latest Luxury Cinema, even though the Broadway and Curzon cinemas were also opened that same month," says film fan Sam Ferguson (81) of Carrick.

The Park closed in 1971, but was reopened in the early summer of 1972 only to be badly damaged in a bomb attack less than a month later, forcing the shutters to go up for good this time. The building stood derelict for many years and was still standing in 1996 when a planning application was submitted to develop the site as a petrol station.

"I loved the Park in its heyday," remembers Sam. "I spent many a happy Saturday afternoon in the stalls watching John Wayne."

Corrie star Violet's visit to Glynn

Here's a catch question: Did Ena Sharples of Coronation Street ever visit the village of Glynn, in the shadow of Larne in east Antrim? The answer is yes she did in the winter of 1956 when she was better known by her real name Violet Carson. Long before the Street was produced on television, Violet was the pianist on Have a Go, a BBC Home Service quiz show hosted by Wilfred Pickles with his wife Mabel handing out the prizes.

Have a Go consisted of four questions worth increasing amounts between half-a-crown (two old shillings and sixpence) and one guinea (21 old shillings). In 1956, the total prize was just under £2. But as the show concluded there was a jackpot question, with a slightly bigger prize available. There were usually four contestants

Have a Go, which ran until 1967, was the first time the BBC offered money prizes in a quiz.

Violet, who died in 1983, aged 85, became a major star on Coronation Street in which she appeared for many years as fiery Ena.

When I said I wanted a companion set, I didn’t want to buy a friend

"Dear Eddie,"writes Marie Fitzsimons of Dundonald, "I asked a young assistant in a shop for a tin of Brasso. 'What's it for?' was her puzzled reply.

"Next I asked if they sold Fablon and she had never heard of it. I was afraid to ask if the shop stocked companion sets in case she thought I was looking for a chum. How times have changed." For the record Brasso is for cleaning brass; Fablon is a plastic sheeting and a companion set is the traditional name for fireside tools.

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