(The first ten years)

Michael McShane

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


During the month of January the Society received grant-aid from the Rural Development Council to help set up the archives. The Crossmaglen Markets Society in winding up their affairs honoured the Creggan Local History Society by donating a sum of money to the Society which was used on one of their projects during the year.

The Annual General Meeting took place in the Green Room on Thursday February 4th. There was a large crowd in attendance. Rev. Fr. John Kearney, and Rev. M. Kingston attended this meeting. Fr. John became Patron of the Society shortly after the death of the late Cardinal Tomas 0 Fiaich. All the usual procedures followed the Chairperson's welcome and report, the Treasurer's report, the Secretary's report, the election of officers and committee. The out-going officers were returned unopposed and Mr. Peter Lavelle and Mr. Raymond Carragher were coopted on the committee as head of fundraising. Mrs. Bridgie McMahon was to be the new P.R.O.

A special word of thanks came from the Chairperson to Kevin McMahon for his guidance and generosity in giving documents the Society either for retention or photocopying to enhance the archives.

The guest-speaker for the meeting held on Thursday March 4th, was Dr. Dermot Devlin from the university of Coleraine, and he lectured on 'Patrick Loughran', one of the seventeen Martyrs. It was decided at this meeting that instead of the usual annual journal being published this year, it would be a good idea to re-publish John Donaldson's Account of the Barony of Upper Fews in the County Armagh.

By April Ist, Jem Murphy reported that due to the recent inclement weather work on the O'Neill vault which was being carried out by Messers Rodgers and Rodgers, of Annalong, was very slow. Nevertheless, he thought work would be finished by the end of April or early May. Mr. Peter Lavelle stated that the annual outing would take place from Friday May 21st, to May 23rd, staying two nights in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary. To end the meeting Fr. Hugh Connelly from Dundalk spoke on 'Celtic Spirituality'.

As expected by the May meeting on Thursday 6th, only the entrance door and the surrounding railings were all that was left to be fitted to the O'Neill vault, and Ned Donnelly had the situation under control. Ned stated that he received the railings from Mr. Ted McCormick, who in turn received them from Mr. MeQuillan, a friend in Belfast. A letter of thanks was forwarded to both gentlemen from the Society.

The Chairperson before closing the meeting, suggested that instead of holding the normal monthly meeting in June, a service for the reinterment of the remains of the O'Neill vault be arranged for Thursday June 3rd, at 7.30 p.m. This idea was discussed with Rev. M. Kingston, and invitations went out to Fr. John Keamey, Fr. McGeough and to Fr. John Reid, to officiate jointly at the service.

Reinterment of the O'Neills

A fund-raising dance was arranged for June 18th, in the Silverbridge G.A.A. club rooms. Guest artists were, John Murphy and Teddy Campbell (music). John Campbell and Len Graham, (storytelling, Irish signing and folklore) and Gene Carroll on Patrick Kavanagh.

During the summer months the Society took legal advice on the copyright of John Donaldson's After some investigation the Society got the go-ahead to reprint the book as the copyright was out of date. During the month of June, July and August guided tours of Creggan Graveyard took place at the weekends. These tours proved very successful and were all conducted with voluntary guides.

The launch of the reprint of Donaldson's Barony of Upper Fews on Thursday September 2nd, was during meeting number ninety held in the Green Room in Crossmaglen Community Centre. The book was beautifully finished in hard back, and was priced at 10.

This years display of historical documents would take place in the Green Room during the traditional weekend, and the annual Ecumenical Service was arranged for Sunday September 5th, in Creggan Church.

On Saturday, October 2nd, Sue Russell from R.T.E. Radio 1 visited Creggan Graveyard and recorded Jem Murphy talking about the Eastwood vault. The programme was broadcast on Tuesday October 12th.

A group from Queen's University Celtic Studies Department also visited Creggan Graveyard on October 2nd. This group was under the guidance of Geraldine Carville, Geraldine who had previously made a visit to the graveyard during the month of July, suspects the Eastwood vault may be a Celtic Church, Geraldine pointed out many similarities in the vault to the Celtic period.

Mr. Seamus Murphy drew a detailed plan of the Eastwood Vault which was forwarded to Armagh Observatory to identify the date on which the sun would shine into the building, which in turn might identify a saint's feast day. Mr. Peter Lavelle collected the Corr and O'Connor papers from the Public Records Office. The Chairperson arranged a meeting for Wednesday October 13th, in the Credit Union Rooms to sort through these documents.

At the November 4th meeting the Chairperson recalled the trip to the Burren Heritage Centre, (Co. Down) which she described as very enjoyable, and thanked Peter and Carol Lavelle for making the necessary arrangements, and to Silverbridge G.F.C. for the use of their bus expertly driven by Tony Kieran.

It was reported that four members of the Society met with Geraldine Carville on October 30th, in Belfast to discuss the Eastwood Vault.

The date given by Armagh Observatory as to when the sun would shine into the Eastwood vault was 1 Oth - 1 1 th February, this being the feast day of St. Jarlath a Celtic saint, who died in 481 A.D. St. Jarlath is reputed to have been born in South Armagh and baptised by St. Patrick.

However, some members of the Society were not convinced that the Eastwood Vault might have been a Celtic church and suggested further investigation. Dr. Mike Baillie of Queen's University Belfast, suggested the Society contact Professor Rainer Berger, from Canada who dates masonry, and had already dated a number of buildings in Ireland. The Chairperson, Mary Cumiskey was to compile and forward all the details to Professor Berger within the week.

The last meeting of 1993 was held on Thursday December Ist, it was reported by the Chairperson that up on ninety people packed into Creggan Church Hall to hear a lecture by Canon Coslett Quinn on the night of November 11th. This lecture was organised by Rev. M. Kingston, and reported by the Chairperson as very successful indeed. A number of Creggan Journals were sold after the lecture was over, and tea was served by the ladies of the Society.