Church organist honoured for 50 years of service

Church organist Deon Irish has been part of St Michael and All Angels Anglican Church for 50 years.

New stained-glass windows at Observatory’s St Michael and All Angels Anglican Church honour Deon Irish, 75, who has played the organ there for 50 years.

Mr Irish, of Camps Bay, joined the church in 1972, and became the full-time organist a year later.

Mr Irish said he had learned to play a church’s pipe organ from the age of 9 while part of the congregation at St Peter’s Anglican Church in Camps Bay.

An advocate by profession, Mr Irish provides music for all the church’s Sunday services, big feast days, weddings and funerals.

“I worked with eight parish priests and the church choir where many members came and went over the years, though we always kept the wonderful continuity of the music.”

The three new stained-glass windows were installed at the end of August and overlook the church’s pipe organ.

“It is really good to get recognition, and I am so grateful that they allowed me to be the organist for all these years,” said Mr Irish.

The windows were designed and installed by Anika van der Merwe, who said it had taken a year to complete the work. “Work like this has to be closely coordinated with the church as they have to choose the design for the stained glass,” she said.

“I loved that the sun would be able to shine through the stained-glass windows and onto the organ, and when Mr Irish came in and saw the work, he loved it immediately.”

Of Mr Irish’s 50 years of service, the church’s priest, Father Timothy Lowes, said: “Deon’s contribution with the choir and what he brings to the church is irreplaceable.”

Father Lowes said church warden William Ingles had sourced funding from a private donor to have the work completed.

In honour of Mr Irish, the church had chosen to depict Saint Cecilia, Saint Nicholas and Saint Gregory in the windows as they all had connections to music, said Father Lowes. “And Saint Cecilia is holding an earlier version of a pipe organ,” he added.

The newly installed stained-glass windows at the St Michael’s and All Angels Anglican Church.
Looking up at the stained-glass windows, from left, are artist Anika van der Merwe, Father Timothy Lowes and church organist Deon Irish.