If you look closely, you can see a book with a yellow cover on the church altar near the cross. No, it is not the Bible, nor is it the Book of Common Prayer. It is a first edition of Dracula.
This needs some explanation.
On Sunday July 8, as part of a series of commemorative events, St Ann’s Church on Dawson Street in Dublin held a service of remembrance and thanksgiving to mark the centenary of the death of Bram Stoker. Stoker was a member of the congregation of St Ann’s and it was there that he married Florence Balcombe in December 1878.
I was expecting this to be a small gathering of Stoker family members and enthusiasts but it was the regular Morning Prayer service of St Ann’s (Church of Ireland) with a large number in attendance, including a visiting choral group from Michigan.
As the procession walked up the centre aisle towards the chancel, the clergyman carried in his hands a first edition of Dracula that Stoker had inscribed to his friend and dedicatee, Hall Caine. The book was then placed on the altar. Not far away, the proceedings were watched by Stoker himself (in bust).
The address (sermon) was delivered, not by the clergyman but by Robin MacCaw, Bram Stoker’s great-grandson, who spoke about Bram and the writing of Dracula. At the end, the clergyman moved to the back of the church where he greeted attendees as they left, with Dracula in hand.
This was surely a “first”. I doubt if I will ever see anything quite like it again. It was almost surreal.