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DEAN HAS A TASTY WAY TO SAVE SOULS; Cleric cooks up dinners idea to raise cash for church steeple.

IRISH cleric Philip Knowles feeds the hungry souls of his parishioners on a Sunday - and their stomachs on a Saturday!

The Dean of Cashel has found a unique way of raising funds for his cathedral restoration fund and other local charities.

The keen cook regularly opens up his deanery and invites guests for sumptious feats cooked by his own fair hand.

And so far the 50-year-old bachelor has raised an astonishing pounds 7,000 from his culinary efforts.

It has never been a case of feeding the 5,000 but the Rev Knowles often caters to parties as big as 50.

And his loyal congregation regularly come back for more.

Demand is sometimes so great he has to set up tables on the landing as well as the dining and breakfast rooms.

"There are sometimes pots and pans all over the place," he says.

The Church of Ireland minister thought up his tasty scheme soon after arriving in the historic town of Cashel, Co Tipperary, nearly four years ago.

"The church needed a new steeple costing pounds 120,000 and there was a lot of other work to be done," said Rev Knowles.

"I've always enjoyed cooking so I invited a few friends to dinner and asked them for a contribution."

The night such a success the minister was soon cooking up a storm every Saturday as word of his skills got around.

"People were quite surprised because it as not something a dean would normally do," he confessed.

"The deanery would usually be closed because it is a family home. But people with a talent should not hide it under a bushel.

"Some people can sing and play music - I can cook.

"I don't take any fee for my work. I do it in thanksgiving to God for allowing me to use what humble talents I have.

"Rather than always having to ask people to help it is nice to be able to give something myself."

Two of his favourite dishes are chicken and mushroom in a white wine cream and garlic sauce and pork and apple in a tomato-based sauce .

The dean, who learned to cook from his step-mother Jenny when he was growing up, is careful not to fall `fowl' of food regulations.

"I am not running a restuarant because I do not have a licence.

"I suggest people might like to contribute pounds 10 after a meal and some people give more. They are often very generous.

"But I only do it for charity through bookings. People seem to enjoy it and it raises money so I will keep it up."
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Author:Gallagher, Jim
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Jul 18, 1999
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