(The first ten years)

Michael McShane

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


The first meeting recorded in 1985 was held on Thursday, 7th February. This meeting was attended by Mr. Kevin McMahon. Mr. McMahon stated that he was most willing to become a member and help with the work of the Society. As the Vice-chairman was absent at this meeting, Mr. Fergus Cumiskey took the chair. He reported that he had made an application to the Northern Ireland Voluntary Trust, on behalf of the Society, for a seeding grant. He had also made an application to the Crossmaglen Community Association for an A.C.E worker to do some research and field-work for the Society. It would take a month or two for these applications to be processed. Mr. Kevin McMahon suggest that the Secretary write to Cardinal O'Fiaich, asking if he would lecture to the Society on the history of the parish of Creggan. This suggestion was taken up by the Secretary. It was agreed that meetings should be held on a monthly basis and to book the Green Room to accommodate them. Mr. Cumiskey said he would make the necessary arrangements.

Mr. Cumiskey was again acting-Chairman at the March meeting held on the 7th. He reported that the Northern Ireland Voluntary Trust had approved a seeding grant for the Society and that the application for the A.C.E worker was being considered. It would take a few weeks before it was finalised. A letter was received from Cardinal O'Fiaich, giving two dates in October and December on which he could come and give a lecture. It was decided to accept the October date and the Cardinal was informed of this decision.

The business of the April meeting was attended to promptly and this lead Mr. Eddie Richardson to liven things up. He told stories about smuggling on the border during the 1940's and 50's. Before long we had a number of our senior members throwing in their twopence worth. A good night's craic was had by all.

It was decided at the meeting on Thursday, 2nd May that owing to the continuing absence of the Vice-chairman a new Chairman and ViceChairman should be elected. This, everyone agreed. Mr. Paddy Conlon proposed Mrs. Mary Cumiskey as our new Chairperson and this was seconded by Mr. Paddy McArdle. As there was no other contender, Mary Cumiskey was duly elected to serve as Chairperson of the Creggan Local History Society. The Vice-chairinanship went to Mr. Tony Kieran. The new committee was as follows: President - Mr. Edward Richardson; Chairperson - Mrs Mary Cumiskey; Vice-Chairrnan - Mr. Tony Kieran; Secretary - Mrs. Geraldine Hanratty; Treasurer - Mr. Michael McShane; P.R.O. - Mr. Fergus Cumiskey.

At a specially convened meeting on 23rd May held in the Lunch Room in the Community Centre. Mr. Gerard Rushe was selected as the Society's first A.C.E. worker. He was to start work in 1st July and was to be supervised by Mr. Kevin McMahon. Mr. McMahon was to compile a programme of work that would keep Mr. Rushe occupied for the foreseeable future. It was about this time that the Society was informed that 1985 was the 150th anniversary of the opening of Crossmaglen Chapel. Enquiries were made on two fronts as to the authenticity of the information but on each occasion there was a wall of silence. However, these enquiries may have opened the least historical of minds, as prompt action was taken to ensure that proper celebrations took place to commemorate such an historical occasion. 29th September 1985 was the date chosen to commemorate the sesquicentenary of St. Patrick's Church, Crossmaglen.

No meetings were to take place during the months of July and August. the next monthly meeting was held on 12th September. It was then the Society learned that Mr. Rushe was to leave his A.C.E position for a more permanent job. The Society lost no time in finding a replacement. Within a week, a number of interviews took place. A special meeting was convened and Mr. John Fee was selected for the position. Mr. Kevin McMahon congratulated Mr. Rushe on the great work he had done for the Society. He wished him well in his new job. This was seconded by the Chairperson, Mary Cumiskey. The other main talking-point at this meeting was the 150th anniversary of the opening of St. Patrick's Church, in just over two weeks. The local clergy had to be congratulated for the vast amount of work they had put into organising the event; also his Eminence, Cardinal 6 Fiaich, the chief-celebrant at the con-celebrated Mass on the occasion, for the homily his Eminence preached (see end of article); for the publication by Fr. Sweeney to celebrate and provide a souvenir of the 150th anniversary of St. Patrick's Church.

At the October meeting, Mr. John Fee gave a detailed report of his work and he had a number of new projects which he wanted to discuss with the Society. There was a lot of disappointment when the Secretary read a letter from Cardinal O'Fiaich stating a mix-up of dates and that the propose lecture on 25th October be re-scheduled for early in the New Year. Mr. Kevin McMahon suggested we get in contact with Fr. Raymond Murray to see if he would be available on 25th October to give a lecture on the United Irishmen.

It was about this time that the Secretary wrote to the new Church of Ireland Rector of Creggan parish, Canon D. Clarke, inviting him to give a lecture to the Society. In reply, Canon Clarke thanked the Society for their invitation and said that he would be pleased to visit us in the New Year. There was a lot to look forward to in the coming year.

The first Annual General Meeting of the Creggan Local History Society was held on 7th November 1985. After the Chairperson's, Secretary's and Treasurer's reports, the officers vacated their seats so that a new committee could be elected but, to their amazement, within a few minutes they were elected back into office to see out 1985 and run the Society during 1986.

The last meeting of 1985 was held on Thursday, 5th December. There was a large attendance at this meeting. The special guest was Dr. Mike Yates from the Historical Monuments and Buildings branch of the Department of the Environment. Dr. Yates delivered a very interesting lecture on Standing Stones and New Stone Age burial sites, illustrated with some magnificent slides.