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HISTORY IN THE MAKING


(The first ten years)

By
Michael McShane

Reproduced, with the Society's permission, from the 1994/95 Journal of The Creggan Local History Society



The inaugural meeting of the Creggan Local History Society was held on 25th October 1984 and was attended by a small but dedicated group of amateur historians. Their ambition was to collect, document and preserve those objects which are the material evidence of the history of the area.

The following is an abbreviated account of the work carried out by the Society over a period of ten years:

Mr Fergus Cumiskey, the Warden of Crossmaglen Community Centre, arranged for a further meeting to be held in the Green Room on Thursday, 8th November 1984. Although the meeting was open to all who were interested in history, only ten people attended.

After a varied discussion, it was decided to form a history society. This meant that a committee would have to be elected. Mr. Fergus Cumiskey set about looking nominations for the various positions. Half an hour later, he had a committee in place. The following were elected to serve on the committee: Mr. Kevin McMahon (in his absence), Chairman; Mr. Seamus Rushe, Vice-chairman; Mrs. Geraldine Hanratty, Secretary; Mr. Michael McShane, Treasurer; Mr. Fergus Cumiskey, P.R.O.; and Mr. Edward Richardson, ex-M.P., President. The committee then set about their work.

First on the agenda was to set out the aims and objectives of the Society. These were as follows: (a) to promote interest, (b) to collect and store historical items, (c) to reproduce old photographs and manuscripts, (d) to tape-record conversations about particular events and people's lives and times, (e) to map out and record head-stone inscriptions from all the local graveyards, (f) to arrange exhibitions and guest-speakers, (g) to discuss long term aims, i.e. publications, museum/archive, etc.

It was agreed that additions could be added to this list in the future and the minutes of all meetings were to be recorded by the Secretary.

Eddie RichardsonThe Green Room in the Community Centre was again the setting for the meeting held on Thursday, 15th Novemben Fourteen people were in attendance. It was chaired by Mr. Seamus Rushe, the Vice-chairman, as Mr. Kevin McMahon was again absent. The name for the society was first on the agenda for discussion. This took up a considerable amount of time and a number of suggestions were made. Michael McShane propose "St. Oliver Plunkett History Society"; this was seconded by Mr. Joe Brennan; Mrs. Mary Cumiskey proposed "Creggan Historical Society", this was seconded by Mr. Paddy Conlon; and Mrs. Deirdre Fee proposed "Art MacCooey Historical Society". None of these were agreed upon and the Chairman then suggested that we all browse over these proposals during the next week or so, that we might get a consensus at the next meeting.

MEMBERSHIP

It was agreed that members be individual members of either full, or junior status. Full members shall be 18 years of age or over. Junior members shall be under 18 years of age. Membership shall be open, irrespective of political party, nationality, religious opinion, race or colour, to all individuals. Membership fee was set at 5 per adult member per year and 1 per junior member per year. The society shall be non-party in politics and non-sectarian in religion. On closing the meeting, the Chairman asked Mrs. Mary Cumiskey to contact the Mullaghbawn Historical Society, with a view to sending a speaker to our next meeting.

The next meeting did not take place until Thursday, 29th November. Again the Green Room was the venue and again Mr. Seamus Rushe was in the "chair". The minutes of the previous meeting were read and adopted. The Chairman stated that he wished to see the matter of the name for the society finalised as soon as possible. Mr. Paddy McArdle suggested to call it "The Fews" but Mr. John Hannon (one of the society's more senior members) explained that the area of the Fews stretched too far out and that it would be better to have something more local. To make progress, Michael McShane withdrew his proposal of "St. Oliver Plunkett History Society". This left the way open for a straightforward show of hands for "Creggan" or "Art MacCooey". "Creggan" got the vote and so the name of the new society was to read the "Creggan Local History Society". The Chairman then introduced the guest-speaker, Mr. Benny Murphy from the Mullaghbawn Historical Society. Mr. Benny Murphy lectured on all aspects of a society's work and pointed out that history can be good or bad and should be recorded as such. At the conclusion of the lecture, the Chairman propose a vote of thanks to Mn Murphy, seconded by Michael McShane.

The last meeting to take place in 1984 was on 13th December. Items discussed at this meeting were: (a) that an admission fee of 1 be required at any meeting with a guest speaker, (b) that the membership fee would come into effect from lst January 1985, (c) that the Treasurer open an account in the Society's name at one of the local banks.

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