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A Parish Remembers!






THE blessing and re-dedication of St. Mary’s Church on Sunday June 29, 1969, was a very happy and proud day for the priests and people of Drumlish parish both at home and abroad. Although many of them, like the “wild geese” are in far foreign fields, they still haven’t forgotten their “native town Drum­lish.” They helped to subsidise the heroic efforts of their kith and kin at home and the result of it all is a magnificent Church—a house of splendour and beauty where God dwells and which gives Calvary a location in time and space. The generosity and sacrifices of those who did this great work are not only recorded in the parish books but are written in the book of life to be preserved to eternity.

The ceremony itself was very edifying and beauti­ful. The town was specially decorated with flags and bunting and there was a special scroll of welcome to Bishop Daly. He inspected a Guard of Honour of the Civil Defence and buglers sounded the salute. After the blessing ceremony His Lordship concelebrated Mass with Fr. Patrick Mollaghan, Fr. Lawrence Brady, Fr. Michael McGovern, all natives of the parish, and Fr. Lawrence O’Grady, C.C., Ballinamuck. A special sermon was preached by Rev. Charles Hanly, M.A., Professor, St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth. The Epistle was read by Benny Nerney, Catrtron, a teacher in St. Mary’s, Moyne, and a native of the parish. The Prayers of the Faithful were read by Anne Nertney, Cloonmacart; Anthony Bissett, Drumlish; Bridget Kane, Drumlish and Raymond Noonan, Monaduff. Those who took part in the Offertory procession included: Connie Bissett, Mary Burbage, Dolores Daly and Bart Kane—all from Drumlish. The altar-boys were Thomas Gill, Corrick; John Kane, Gerard Keenan, Seamus Kane, Patrick Kiernan, Michael Carolan, Aidan Gray, Drum­lish and Declan Nertney, Clonmacart. The well-trained choir was under the baton of Mrs. Mary Rogers, N.T., who was also organist. Those in the choir included:— Grainne McWade, Marie Whitney, James McKenna, James Kiernan, Patsy Carty, Pat McKeon, Theresa Kelleher, Bernadette Gallagher, Aine Burbage. Mar­garet Reilly, Rosemary Reilly, Eileen Brady. Mary Mc­Keon, Bernadette Sullivan, Geraldine Molloy; Anne Theresa Murphy, Annette Kane, Frances Anne Keenan, Margaret Bissett, Patricia Burbage. Anne Marie Rogers, John Toole, Bernard Hughes. Eamon Murphy.

The Church dignitaries and clergy present at the ceremonies in the Church and taking in the programme included:

Most Rev. Dr. James Moynagh, Bishop of Calabar, Rt. Rev. Msgr. T. Sheeran, P.P., V.G., Mohill; Venerable Dean Peter Kelly, P.P., Keadue; Very Rev. J. .T. Canon Griffin,P .P., Newtownforbes; Very. Rev. P. Canon O’Donnell, P.P., Mostrim; Very Rev. P. Canon McGowan, P.P., Clonmacnois; Rev. John Butler, Syracuse, New York; Rev. P. Mollaghan, P.P., Aughavas; Rev. B. Hughes, S.S.P., Calabar; Rev. F. Gilfillan. P.P., Granard; Rev. F. Whitney, S.S.P., Kiltegan; Rev. E. Cor­kery, D.E., Longford; Rev. L. Brady, P.P., Glasgow; Rev. J. Woods, P.P., Bornacoola; Rev. J. McGoey. PP., Killoe; Rev. T. O’Brien, C.C., Ballyfarnon; Rev. J. Skelly, P.P., Killenummery; Rev. P. Flynn, C.C., Boher; Rev. H. Kearney, P.P., Gortletteragh; Rev. A. Mc­Govern, P.P., Dromard; Rev. J. Brennan, CC., Abbey­shrule; Rev. J. Fitzmaurice, OP., Australia; Rev. T. Leavy, C.C., Newtownforbes; Rev. T. Flynn,: St. Saran’s Ferbane; Rev. H. Fee, C.C., Ferbane Rev. E. Murphy,. C.C., Mullinaghta; Rev. J. Donohoe. P.P. Abbyelara

Rev. J. Farrell, C.C., Athlone; Rev. F. McCabe, Fenagh; Rev. M: McGarry, P.P., Rathowen; Rev. J. Newman, P.P., Ardagh; Rev.. P. Frawley. PP., Cloone, Rev. J. Greene, P.P. Clonbroney; Rev. M. Lane, C.C., Mountemple; Rev. P. Brady, St. Mel’s; Rev. P. Lynch, St. Mel’s; Rev. G. Balfe, Bishop’s Secretary; Rev. P. Murtagh, P.P., Cloghan; Rev. P. Bohan, St. Mel’s; Rev. P. Moore, C.C., Gortletteragh; Rev. S. Tynan, C.C., Ballymahon; Rev. P. McCormack, P.P., Abbeyshrule; Rev. T. P. Cullen, C.C., Dublin; Rev. 0. Devaney, St. Mel’s.

The architect was Longford-born Mr. Freddie Browne and the contractor Mr. Emmett McGarry, Ballinamore.

As we look around the Church we see; much that is changed and beautiful The Sanctuary is altered in keeping with contemporary liturgical thinking in the Church. The priest now offers Mass facing the people but the table of the old altar with its beautiful sculpture has been kept. A new tabernacle designed by the well-known artist Ray Carroll is plac­ed in the wall. The material he uses is bronze and in it there are colourful symbols wrought in resin. The ambo and choir are designed by Mr. Freddie Brown. The Stations of the Cross are executed in Connemara marble and are designed by George Armstrong. The windows are made by Myles Kearney, Dublin. Over the doors are mosaic panels made and designed by Irish Mosaics, Roscommon. There are no altar rails in the Church. The new seats are made from Utile mahogany, with steel frames.

But the old, old Church that has stood for over half a century and that has heard the prayers of generation after generation remains. It is a striking sign of the link that binds us with those who have gone before us.

The ideals and hopes conceived at the beginning of the century are now realised. The work heroically begun in 1904 by John Canon Keville is now completed. Up to the beginning of the last century Drumlish was part of Killoe parish. The parish register shows that on the 16th  December 1834 the Rev. Patrick McKeon was inducted by the Rev. John O’Reilly, P.P., Killoe, as P.P. Monaduff. The old Church was origin­ally in Monaduff. Then it was transferred to Drumlish Hill. It had a clay floor and was not seated. The present Church at the head of St. Mary’s Street was completed in 1907 and it was dedicated by Bishop Hoare on the 9th May of that year—the feast of the Ascension.

After the concelebrated Mass at the re-opening and blessing of the Church, Most Rev. Dr. Daly congratulat­ed and complimented the people of Drumlish parish on their two lovely churches which he said were unequalled in any other parish in the diocese.

He said Drumlish Church was a temple of splendour and beauty, a place truly worthy of God’s pres­ence. He paid tribute to everyone associated with the work and he spoke in glowing terms about the parish priest, Fr. James Butler, He admired his strength and courage in undertaking this gigantic work—a work that would have done more than justice to a man many years younger. What Fr. Butler had done, he said, would serve as an example for others. The Bishop ex­tended a special welcome to Fr. John Butler, the P.P.’s brother who is a very generous benefactor of the Church. He praised the extraordinary generosity of the priests, both the native-born priests of the parish and the priests of the diocese.

He warmly congratulated the people themselves for the manner in which they had co-operated and helped in the work. They had given proof of the faith and devotion characteristic of the people of Drumlish down through the years. He admired the very many pri abortionpill-online.com pill ests and nuns of the parish who had done and were still doing great work at home and on the foreign missions and he expressed the hope that very many more boys and girls from the parish would follow in their footsteps.

Sunday June 29 was certainly a day of joy for everyone associated with Drumlish Church, a joy that their exiles felt and a joy that must have found echoes in Heaven among their faithful departed. The people have now enshrined in stone the faith of their fathers; may we hope that in the years to come they may show it forth as brilliantly by their good living.

(Rededication of St. Mary’s Church, Drumlish 29th June 1969)




St. Patrick’s Church, Ballinamuck is on the site of an old thatched Church which was built about 1834. A couple of years later this humble little church was heroically defended by the curate, Fr. Moran. King Harmon evicted all the families around and levelled their homes to the ground. The Church was about to be pulled down when Fr. Moran stepped forward and dared anyone put a finger on it. The redcoats got afraid and withdrew, so the Church was spared.

Later on, however, the people felt that a more substantial and lasting house of God was needed. Immediately before the famine years they built stone walls around the old cabin church but they were un­able to roof them. In fact it was many years later— the 1860s—before the Church was roofed. A local, Mr. Hogan, was living in Dublin and he went to Bianconi (the man who put the first coaches on the roads of Ireland) who donated the price of the roof—MO. The timber of the roof was pine and it was shipped from Archangel In Russia.

This Church lasted nearly 100 years. The present Church replaces it and is built on the same site. Beside the main door there is a plaque to the builders— the Rev. James Butler, PP., and the Rev. Lawrence O’Grady, C.C. It was blessed and dedicated by Mast Rev. Dr. McNamee on October 8th, 1961. The sermon was preached by Rev. John Corkery, M.A., St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth. The architect was Mr. Freddie Browne and the contractors were Ledwith Bros. It is a Church of great beauty ‘and artistic merit. The altar and tabernacle were designed by Mr. Browne and were made by Harrison’s of Dublin. The sanctuary windows depict St. Patrick lighting the Pascal fire at Slane. The crosses of the stained glass windows down the aisle are all different and unique. They are replicas of the old Irish crosses in Clonmacnois. The stations of the cross are modern in design; the figures are wrought in polished limestone. Towards the back of the Church there is a beautiful statute of Our Lady sculptured in Carrara marble.




One of Drumlish’s most distinguished sons was Most Rev. Dr. William O’Higgins, Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois between 1829 and 1853. In fact he was one of the most noteworthy prelates who ever ruled the diocese. He was an eminent scholar, a capable administrator and a holy man who exercised no small influence on the people and public affairs of his generation.

He was born in Barraghbeg on the 1st August, 1794. He was educated at home by his mother and by a travelling classical teacher. Later he attended a num­ber of hedge schools and one of them it is commonly held was the forerunner of the now St. Mary’s, Moyne. In 1812 he began his studies for the priesthood at the Picpus Seminary, Paris. The years he spent in France were very eventful ones. In his diary we read that after the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo he met in Paris “Malachy McGarry and Peter Creegan from Drumlish, Owen O’Reilly from Monaduff and an O’Reilly from the rocks of Bohey.”

On the 20th September, 1817, William O’Higgins was ordained a priest. For three years he was a Pro­fessor in the Irish College in Paris. Then he travelled through Europe and he finally came to Rome where he obtained the highest academic distinctions that could be obtained.

In 1826 he returned to Ireland. He was appointed a Professor in St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth and three years later, in 1829, he succeeded Dr. McGouran as Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois. On a number of occasions he was the representative of the Irish bishops on the Continent and in Rome. It was due to his ability and diplomacy that the Burses for the edu­cation of Irish students on the Continent and in May­nooth College were retained.

From the beginning it was his dream to provide the diocese with an ecclesiastical Seminary and a Cathed­ral. On the 19th May, 1840, he laid the foundation stone of the present St. Mel’s Cathedral. By 1846 the walls, pillars and the entire masonry were finished. Only the roof remained to be done, but then the famine came. The potato blight spread hunger and death. It was ten years later before the Cathedral was completed but Dr. O’Higgins didn’t live to see it finish­ed. On the 3rd January, 1853, he passed to his eternal reward while still a comparatively young man.

Thus passed a great priest, a great patriot and a great Irishman. He was an ardent supporter of Daniel O’Connell and a life-long friend of “the Lion of the West” Archbishop John McHale of Tuam. The principles he lived by and the ideals he fought for lived on. He was a granduncle of Canon John, Fathers Tom and Matt Conefrey and a great-granduncle of Fr. Peter Conefrey. His remains are interred in the vaults of the noble Cathedral he founded.





Anything about Drumlish would be incomplete without mentioning the Land War and Fr. Tom Confrey. The details of this episode which took place bet­ween 1881 and 1891 are recorded for us in a book by Fr. Confrey himself.

The said story is quite a familiar one. The seasons are not too good and the crops are bad; there is no money to pay the rent, the process server comes to the door and a little later the family is evicted.

Fr. Confrey in his book says that in 1882, three hundred families are evicted from within a radius of three miles around Drumlish. The people would not give in lightly. Things came to a head. The people, called by the Church bell ‘and armed with guns, scythes, reaping hooks, pitchforks and ashplants openly met Lord Granard, his process servers, bailiffs and the redcoats in Drumlish.

Under the leadership and guidance of Fr. Confrey an open battle was averted. Both sides were ‘said and led’ by him. The local people eventually won and were allowed to retain their homesteads at reduced rents.



Extract: Drumlish Remembers, compiled and published by Fr. F. Gray, 29th June 1969