(The first ten years)

Michael McShane

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


The third A.G.M. took place on 7th January and, after the usual speeches, the committee were then re-elected en block, on the proposal of Jem Murphy, seconded by Kevin McMahon. 1988 had all the appearances of being yet another busy year for the Society. Work on an information pack for schools, which included articles on local historical sites, had started. Concern was also growing among members at the loss of townland names, Mr. Kevin Murphy pointing out that the young people of today would never know their townlands unless something was done about it soon. The Chairperson suggested that this subject be brought up at the next meeting, in March, when the Society would have Dr. Brian Turner speaking on family and townland names. Lectures were also arranged for the April and May meetings, Mr. Joe Canning, Craigavon Local History Library, and Mr. Aidan Walsh, Monaghan County Museum, respectively, delivering very interesting lectures to members and friends of the Society. The annual trip took place on Easter Monday, with visits to.a number of historical sites in Dublin City. On the way home, Malahide Castle was also visited.

The Northern Ireland Tourist Board and Newry and Moume District Council were to acknowledge the need for financial help in producing the information pack. It was about this time that Canon Clarke accepted the honourary position of President of the Society.

The Chairperson, Mary Cumiskey, reported receiving a letter from Mr. Sean Duffy, of Trinity College, Dublin, with information on the Loughross poet, Dr. James Woods, who is buried in Creggan graveyard. Mr. Jem Murphy stated that he would need the information soon, if it was to be included in the forthcoming Guide to Creggan Church and Graveyard. Work on the Guide continued throughout the summer months and, among other things, a date was discussed for the launch. As this would be a very important and interesting publication, the Society thought that it would be appropriate if a short ecumenical service would take place in Creggan Church to mark the occasion. Letters were sent to Cardinal O'Fiaich, Archbishop Eames, Rev. Canon Clarke and members of the Creggan Vestry, explaining the wish of the Society and asked if this could be made possible.

By the end of August, arrangements were well in hand and the date was set for Saturday, 17th September at 2.00 p.m. Archbishop Eames sent his apologies for being unable to attend. his Eminence, Cardinal 0 Fiaich, and Canon Clarke confirmed that they would be able to attend. On the afternoon of Saturday 17th, Creggan Church grounds were thronged with people in anticipation of such an historic occasion. Inside the Church, powerful lights were assembled and cameramen where jostling for the best positions. There were at least three different denominations present and the Church was packed to capacity. The congregation included Canon O'Neill, Fr. Sweeney, Fr. Moran and Fr Reid.

Canon Clarke, in his address, welcomed Cardinal O'Fiaich to this happy and ecumenical Christian occasion to launch the Guide to Creggan Church and Graveyard. "It is a wonderful venture indeed", he added, "and we all owe a debt of gratitude to all who have been involved in the research of a very historic Churchyard and of the subsequent arrangements and publication of our booklet. It is because of this booklet that we are happily gathered here together this afternoon in our service of prayer and reading."

During the service, John Murphy, Peter Murphy, Teddy Campbell and Mrs. Donaldson provided the music. Kevin McMahon read the lesson and Mrs. Peadar McBride, from Art MacCooey Park, Glassdrummond, gracefully sang "Uirchill an Chreagain". His Eminence, Cardinal O'Fiaich, delivered his sermon in the usual jovial manner (the full text of the sermon is on page 153. After the Church service, the congregation retired to the Church hall, where Mr. Tony Hearty, of "Cottage Antiques", provided a buffet, which would grace my occasion. His three nieces played Irish traditional music throughout the afternoon and evening and there was an exceptional demand for copies of the Guide. By late evening, people were saying how much they had enjoyed the service, with all the different denominations present, saying "wouldn't it be nice to have an ecumenical service every year".

Little did they realise that the service they had just witnessed was the foundation for future events.

Three further meetings took place to see out 1988 and the Annual General Meeting was arranged for Thursday, 5th January 1989.