The Lewis Legacy-Issue 84, Spring 2000
C. S. Lewis Memories of Donald Caird, Honorary Archbishop of Dublin
The C.S. Lewis Foundation for Truth in Publishing
March 1, 2000
When I was a Curate in St. Marks, Dundela, 1950-54, C. S. Lewis used to visit the Ewart family at Glenmachan. They were his cousins.
Miss Kelsie Ewart on occasion invited me to dinner, probably 1951 or 1952. I was greatly thrilled to meet the man whose books enthralled me and whose presentation and defense of Christianity to my generation I regarded as superb.
I was not in the least disappointed in meeting my hero in the flesh. In appearance he was a much bigger man than I had anticipated. He looked, I thought, more like a County Down farmer than a very distinguished Oxford academic. He was tall, well built, with black hair brushed back from his forehead. He had a broad open face which relaxed into a charming smile, and a beautiful deep speaking voice which he used to great effect in conversation.
His great delight, he said, was to walk in the County Down hills, staying in cottages and farm houses and listening to the speech of the people, hearing their stories and absorbing the beauty of the countryside and the well kept homesteads.
He was charming, witty and not in the least condescending to a very junior Curate. Miss Ewart may have told him of my interest in philosophy, because he introduced the subject into our conversation at dinner and very graciously showed an interest in my response. He spoke of his life as a boy in Belfast and of some of the people he remembered in St. Marks, Dundela, where his Hamilton grandfather was Rector.
I remember in the course of this conversation that he spoke about novels and he averred that he hated short novels and on the whole would not bother to read them.
Nearly fortyfive years after This encounter with C.S. Lewis the occasion is indelibly impressed on my mind. I remember him as a charming, humorous, forthright Christian who rejoiced in the company, in the good food and wine on that evening; and who held County Down in great affection.
I am very grateful to Miss Ewart and other members of the Ewart family for their precious hospitality and for the great privilege which they gave me of meeting C.S. Lewis for a whole evening and discovering him to be a charming, sanguine, even jovial Christian who was very gracious to the third Curate in St. Marks, Dundela.
A letter to David Bleakley published in his book
C. S. Lewis, at Home in Ireland (Strandtown Press, 1998).