The Rev Canon Stanley Pettigrew, former rector of Wicklow, was a talented artist. | Whuff News

The Rev Canon Stanley Pettigrew, a much-loved former Wicklow rector and renowned artist, has died aged 95.

After a short illness, he died in care at University Hospital Limerick on September 15 this year, shortly after the chaplain led morning prayers with him. At his request, a simple funeral service was held with immediate family present at Shannon’s Crematorium, officiated by the current Rector of Wicklow and Killiskey, the Rev Jack Kincaid.

Largo from Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9, the ‘New World’ Symphony, the first movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6, the ‘Pastor’s’ Symphony were played at Stanley’s funeral. Entitled ‘Rejoicing when you arrive in the countryside’, it was more a tribute to good living and hope for the Christian life than any eulogy or sermon.

In the year Born in Chile in 1927 to Irish parents, the Pettigrew family returned to Sligo in 1930, where Stanley completed his education. In the year In 1944, he enrolled as a student at Trinity College, Dublin, where he studied history and then divinity.

Ordained in 1950, Stanley began his career as a curate in the Newcastle parish in Co Down. In 1957 they served for 5 years before being transferred to the parishes of Deralosari, Kalari and Laragh. In the year In December 1962, Stanley moved from Wicklow town to live with family in the parishes of Wicklow and Killiskey in 2019, where he lived beyond retirement.

As a pastor, Stanley was diligent and faithful in his ministry, aiming to visit at least three households every day and at least three times a year to visit everyone in the parish. 30 years after his retirement, parishioners in Wicklow and Killiskey still remember his sermons. How he draws the listener into a scene, creating a vivid picture with his clever use of language and description.

Former church wards remember the high standards he expected in the church’s approach, and former members of the vestry recall his tireless efforts to maintain and expand educational facilities for local people.

Two achievements stand out in particular: the drive to keep Nous Cross School open and the building of East Glendalough Comprehensive School (1987). He also oversaw the restoration of Wicklow Parish Church (circa 1965), the construction of a new rectory (1974) and a new school building for Glebe National School (1980). For Stanley, the spiritual and the practical went hand in hand, and he left behind a spiritual and tangible legacy of which the family was justifiably proud.

In addition to his life as a church priest, Stanley was also a prolific artist, best known for his landscape paintings. Dressed in his trademark beret and gray overcoat, Stanley favored a ‘wild picture’ of the landscape he sought to capture. Bad weather rarely left him, and he always wanted to finish a painting completely before moving on to something else. Stanley did not stop painting, and after his activities became more limited, he focused on local scenes.

Stanley was married in 1954 to his wife Vera, who died in 2009. A well-known children’s book author, Vera wrote a memoir of her stay at Annamoe Rectory (1957-62). A fascinating insight into life in rural Ireland in the 1950s, like the lifestyle of a rectory family. Stanley and Vera had three children, Judy, John, and Mike, and five grandchildren, Sabina, Nikita, Luke, Alana, and Ashley.

Despite his public life, Stanley was a very private man at heart. He valued the virtues of faith, commitment and discipline, and disliked raising a fuss. By faith he was able to attend the First Communion at Wicklow Parish Church every week, praying Morning Prayer every day.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

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