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



1991

Chairperson's report on Thursday January 3rd, described the past year as busy, successful and the saddest. She recalled the death of Cardinal Tomas O'Fiaich, R.I.P. and she spoke of the pictorial tribute which the editor, Kevin McMahon, included in the last journal. Many of the photographs were published for the first time, and it was fitting that the Creggan Local History Society had the honour to publish them. The Chairperson thanked Kevin for all the hard work he put into the journal and acknowledged the amount of work he had already done for journal number five.

Mr. Tony Kieran, on behalf of the members, thanked the Chairperson and her officers for their dedication, enthusiasm and hard work in running the Society throughout the year. The same committee were again elected to run the Society for the coming year. Before the meeting ended the Chairperson expressed her concern about the condition of the O'Neill vault in Creggan graveyard, and was in touch with Mr. Ken Neill of the Historic Monuments and Building Branch of the D.O.E. Mr. Neill promised to visit and survey the vault in the near future. he would then be in a better position to suggest as what best to do.

Ethel Fitzpatrick from Newry was the guest-speaker at the February meeting and spoke eloquently on the life and times of Sean O'Casey. Rev. Neely from Keady was in touch with the Society as regards a possible trip to Kilkenny in late spring or early summer. ,p>It was about this time that the newly appointed Rector of Creggan Parish Church met with Mary Cumiskey and Jem Murphy. He was anxious to meet with the members, and do anything possible to help the Society. The annual ecumenical service was discussed and provisionally arranged for the first weekend in September.

On Thursday March 7th, Kevin McMahon reported the journal would be ready within a month. The retail cost would be 5, and the launch would take place on Tuesday May 7th, in the Parish Rooms, Crossmaglen, following the anniversary Mass of Cardinal Tomas 0 Fiaich at 7.30 p.m., the Chief Concelebrant being Archbishop Cahal Daly. Dr. Jim Mallory, from the Division of Archaeology and Palaeoecology, Queen's University, Belfast, was the guest-speaker for the March meeting.

By early April, Mr. Ken Neill had made a visit to Creggan graveyard to survey the condition of the O'Neill vault. Rev. Kingston had been in touch with Mary Cumiskey and Jem Murphy regarding a notice board for Creggan Church Grounds. The Society had offered to get a sign made for the Church, and Mary Cumiskey had acquired a wooden frame which would be suitable. Mr. Herbie Conlan said he knew a Mr. Bottom from Newtownhamilton who was an expert in sign writing and would approach him to do the notice board.

The seventy first meeting of the Society took place on Thursday May 2nd. It was a busy time for the Society, making the necessary arrangements for the launch of a special journal, a tribute to the late Cardinal Tomas 0 Fiaich. Invitations were sent to all sponsors and contributors to the book. By now it was confirmed that Cumann Luthchleas Gael, Newry and Moume District Council, Bank of Ireland, (Crossmaglen Branch). Patrick Murphy & Sons, Carnally, Silverbridge, McCormick Site Services, Newtownabbey, Co. Antrim, were the main sponsors. Over one hundred people from all walks of life, all over Ireland and many parts of the world also contributed to the biggest tribute the Creggan Local History Society could make to a true son of Erin-our beloved Cardinal Tomas.

By 7 o'clock on the evening of May 7th, the ladies of the Society had everything arranged and in place as far as the food was concerned, a special word of thanks must got to Mr. Michael McConville, The Square, Crossmaglen, who provided the refreshments and saw that nothing ran out. Other members who were taking part in the readings and prayers of the faithful hurriedly rehearsed their lines in silence.

By 7.30 p.m., St. Patrick's Church Crossmaglen, was packed to capacity for the anniversary Mass for the late Cardinal Tomas O'Fiaich. Among the two thousand plus congregation were representatives of the various other Churches throughout Ireland and beyond.

Mr. Liam Flynn the printer of the journal, delivered several hundred copies for the launch. Archbishop Cahal Daly who launched the 'Memorial Issue' on the night was presented with a specially bound copy. Everything went according to plan. The Society had launched its fifth journal. Along with the Guide to Creggan Church and Graveyard, this was the sixth major publication in as many years. Two smaller publications were also published during the same period.

A trip to the Ulster American Folk Park in Omagh, Co. Tyrone, was arranged for May 27th. During the month of June, Mr. Ken Neill and Mr. Dick Oram met with Mary Cumiskey and Jem Murphy regarding the condition of the O'Neill vault with the outcome being to make the vault safe, and preserve the remains. It was stated at this meeting that the work would neither be grant-aided or carried out by the Historic Monuments and Buildings Branch of the Department of Environment. A letter was also forwarded to the Newry & Moume District Council requesting help to carry out the work.

Click for full pictureCardinal Cahal Daly launching the Cardinal O'Fiaich Memorial Issue of the Creggan Journal with the editor Mr. Kevin McMahon and Chairperson of the Creggan Local History Society, Mrs. Mary Cumiskey.
(Photo-Creggan Local History Society Archives)

Click for full pictureChairperson Mrs. Mary Cumiskey and Vice-Chairman Mr. Tony Kieran with Mr. Ted McCormick (Main Sponsor) at the launch of the Cardinal O'Fiaich Memorial Issue of the Creggan Journal.
(Photo-Creggan Local History Society Archives)

Meanwhile, Mr. Pat. Murphy undertook to organise the sale of the Journals during the summer months. Every Saturday afternoon Pat would organise a team of salesmen, and women, to go around the various parishes in the Diocese on Saturday evening and Sunday morning and sell the journal to the Church goers. This routine continued through to the late Autumn until all the parishes were covered. During the summer the Society occupied two rooms at the rear of the Credit Union for use as a museum/archives, and store.

A large crowd attended the Ecumenical Service held in Creggan Church on Sunday September 3rd, at 3.30 p.m., with the sermon by the Very Rev. Canon Joseph Maguire P.P., Downpatrick. Refreshments were provided in the Church Hall after the service.

Click for full picturePast and Present Editors Mr. Kevin McMahon (right) Editor of the Creggan Journal and the Cardinal O'Fiaich Memorial Issue (1988-1991) and the incumbent editor of the Creggan Local History Society Journal, Michael McShane.
(Photo-Creggan Local History Society Archives)

Click for full pictureLocal Historians Con Mac An Ghirr and Mr. James (Jem) Murphy, at the launch of the Cardinal O'Fiaich Memorial Issue of the Creggan Local History Society Journal.
(Photo-Creggan Local History Society Archives)

Click for full pictureExecutive Members of the Creggan Local History Society. (L-R) Mrs. Geraldine Hanratty, Secretary, Mr. Michael McShane, Treasurer,. Mrs. Mary Cumiskey, Chairperson.
(Photo-Creggan Local History Society Archives)

Click for full pictureChairperson Mrs. Mary Cumiskey with Local Historian Mr James (Jem) Murphy at the launch of the Cardinal O'Fiaich Memorial Issue of the Creggan Journal.
(Photo-Creggan Local History Society Archives)

Click for full pictureMr. Kevin McMahon with Mrs Deirdre Fee (centre) and Mr. John Fee (extreme right) and executive members of the Creggan Local History Society, at the launch of the Cardinal O'Fiaich Memorial Issue of the Creggan Journal.
(Photo-Creggan Local History Society Archives)

Click for full pictureMembers of the Creggan Local History Society with Mr. Kevin McMahon editor of the Cardinal O'Fiaich Memorial Issue of the Creggan Journal.
(Photo-Creggan Local History Society Archives)

Click for full pictureAt the launch of the Cardinal O'Fiaich Memorial issue of the Creggan Journal (L-R) Mr. Hugh Largey, Mr. Ned Donnelly and Mr. Paddy Conlon.
(Photo-Creggan Local History Society Archives)

Click for full pictureVisiting Creggan graveyard, Don Carlos O'Neill (seated Centre) - 12th Marquis de la Cranja. 5th marquis de la Norte and Conde de Benejiar, with his son Don Carlos (jnr.) His daughters Dona Macarena and Dona Patricia, with members of the Creggan Local History Society, Rev. M. Kingston and Fr. John Reid.
(Photo-Creggan Local History Society Archives)

Members of the Newry & Mourne Council visited the O'Neill vault during October and could see the need for repair. In the meantime the Historic Monuments and Buildings Branch had drawn up some very elaborate plans for the vault. If these plans were definitive, and were to be implemented, then the cost would be astronomical. The council were to contact the Historic Monuments and Buildings Branch regarding this, and also the 'listing of the site'.

The meeting on Thursday, December 5th, was recorded as the first monthly meeting to take place in the Credit Union rooms. Among the items for discussion was the appointment of a new Editor for the next journal. The present editor was stepping down because of health reasons. Michael McShane the Society's Treasurer was appointed the new editor and immediately set the deadline, March 17th, 1992 for articles to be typed and presented, for consideration and inclusion, in the next journal.


1991