(The first ten years)

Michael McShane

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


The guest-speaker at the January 6th meeting was Dr. Geraldine Carville, who spoke about the possibility of Creggan graveyard being a Celtic Christian settlement and Arinagh Observatory having given a date as to when the sun would shine into the Eastwood Vault - 1 Oth - 1 1 th February, St. Jarlath's feast day, a lot of debate was generated in the Society about the historical implications of these new pieces of information, which will probably continue for some time to come. In the meantime, Dr. Carville undertook to research the subject fully and to write a thesis on it.

Wednesday, January 12th was the day chosen for members of the Society to give a few hours of their time to work on the archives in the Credit Union Rooms. The A.G.M. was held on Thursday February 10th, in the Green Room in the Community Centre. Mary Cumiskey, the Chairperson, opened the meeting by welcoming all present and apologising for the cancellation of the A.G.M. on Thursday February 3rd, due to a power failure. Members were informed that the Society had been formed ten years ago this year, over which we had six publications plus a guide to Creggan Church and graveyard, and a re-publication of John Donaldson's Account of the Barony of Upper Fews. The Chairperson said, "copies of these books were sent far and near across the world and were greatly treasured by emigrants". The minutes of the last A.G.M. were read by the Secretary, adopted by Tony Kieran and seconded by Raymond Carragher.

The Chairperson in her report thanked all who helped the Society in any way during the year, especially Jem Murphy and Rev. Kingston. She also thanked Rev. Kingston and his Church Committee for the use of the Creggan Hall for Canon Coslett Quinn's lecture and for organising the Ecumenical Service in September.

An application for the renewal of a spirit licence by Patrick Carragher in July 1903 came into the possession of the Chairperson. Patrick Carragher was the late Cardinal O'Fiaich's grandfather, and the application was handed over to Kevin McMahon for the Cardinal O'Fiaich Centre in Cullyhanna.

Instead of a journal for 1994, Rev. Kingston suggested a publication of poetry translations. A sub-committee was formed to find out ways and means of how this should be done, the sub-committee being as follows: Mary Cumiskey, Tony Kieran, Len Gourd and Rev. Kingston.

Peter Lavelle reported having the annual outing to Limerick from 29th April - Ist May organised, also a fund raising dance in Silverbridge G.F.C. club rooms on 22nd April, music by John Murphy and Teddy Campbell. A vote of sympathy was passed to Rev. Kingston on the death of Rev. Noel, former Rector of Creggan Parish.

The present Committee vacated their seats while Mr. Owen Kelly took the chair to elect a new committee. Mr. Jem Murphy proposed that the same committee should be re-elected. This was seconded by Kathleen Carville. Among the correspondence received during April was a letter from the Board of Works in Dublin. They informed the Society that Professor Berger receives so many samples to date that it would be a long time before we would get a reply from him. They also stated that the Board of Works had devised a method of dating, and in due course date mortar. In the meantime the Chairperson had been in contact with Dr. Gerry McCormick of Queen's University Belfast who said he would be willing to date the Eastwood vault even though it could take about eight months, and at least two kilos of mortar. Jem Murphy suggested that Dr. Geraldine Carville should contact Dr. McCormick to see exactly what he needs.

A vote of sympathy was passed to Celia Short and family on the death of Con, who died on May 3rd. During the early days of the Creggan Local History Society Con Short contributed two articles to journal number 2, (1987) and one article for journal number 4,(1990).

During the month of July two members from the Society, (Mary Cumiskey and Jem Murphy) visited Aras an Uachtarain and presented a set of Creggan Journals to President Mary Robinson.

The guided tours of Creggan graveyard were to take place at the weekends, starting from June 5th, until August 28th.

The first meeting after the summer break was on September 1st, and the Chairperson had a warm welcome for everybody, especially Rev. Kingston. Rev. Kingston passed around some copies of the Ecumenical Service, which would be held in Creggan Church on Sunday September 4th. Bishop Clifford would be the guest-speaker, and Fr. Kevin Moran, Fr. T. McGeough and Rev. Eric Duncan would also attend. Len Gourd and Jarlath Gregory volunteered to do the readings, and the ladies of the Society would provide a buffet in the Church Hall after the service.

On Wednesday September 14th, a meeting took place at the Eastwood Vault in Creggan graveyard with Mr. Ken Neill, from the Historic Monuments and Buildings Branch and Mr. Greer Ramsey from the Armagh Museum. Mary Cumiskey, Kevin McMahon, Michael McShane, Jem Murphy, Len Gourd and Rev. Kingston were the members from the Society who attended the meeting. While much discussion went on about the date of the vault, Mr. Ken Neill was adamant the building only went back as far as the 15th century. Meanwhile Mr. Greer Ramsey said he would discuss the possibility of carbon-dating with Dr. Mike Baillie. Kevin McMahon stated that a date would need to be found to prove how old the vault is and, if it was early christian.

Members continued to meet and work on the archives in the Credit Union Rooms every week under the guidance of Kevin McMahon.

It came to the attention of the Society that rubbish was been tipped on the grave of Fr. Patrick Lamb in Crossmaglen graveyard. This desecration of someone's grave, be it clergy or laity, can only be described as gross obscenity, and should be discouraged.

Mr. Pat Grant, from Newry was the guest-speaker at the October meeting which was attended by thirty adults. 'The Establishment of the Border in South Armagh - South Down 1920-1925' was the theme of Mr. Grant's lecture, and a number of students who were studying this period were among the audience, and found the lecture very informative.

Mr. Greer Ramsy and Ms. Catherine McConnell, from the Armagh Museum, were the guest-speakers at the meeting on Thursday November 3rd. They both spoke very eloquently about the Museum and extended an invitation to the Society to visit them in the future.

On behalf of the Society, the Chairperson sent a letter of congratulations to Fr. John Kearney, Patron of the Society, on his recent elevation to 'Canon'. To mark the tenth anniversary of the founding of the Creggan Local History Society a celebration dance was arranged for November 18th in the Community Centre, Crossmaglen. Music was supplied by John Murphy and Teddy Campbell. The Buffet was excellently provided by Cashel Catering, the bar facilities by Aidan Murtagh were outstanding, and admission was 5. Among the invited guests to celebrate the occasion were Dr. and Mrs. Crummie and Mrs. Deirdre Fee. Dr. Crummie in his wisdom, bequeathed a number of valuable books to the Society for which they were very grateful. Mrs. Deirdre Fee has been a valued member of the Society since its foundation and has supplied a mountain of material to the Society for publication. Other guests included the Woods family who entertained the crowd with their own brand of music.

The last meeting to take place in 1994 was on Thursday December 1 st, Mary Cumiskey described the dance and.buffet held on November 18th as being very successful. Articles were now being written and presented to the editor for the next journal. The Chairperson, Mary Cumiskey, and solicitor, Mr. Ciaran Rafferty met on December 6th, to discuss the possibility of drawing up a charter so that the contents of our archives can never be split-up, or moved away from the area.

Michael McShane said, he had plans well advanced for the Society to produce a set of postcards of the local area.

Peter and Carol Lavelle, are once again arranging the annual outing for the members of the Society and this time all roads are leading 'North'. The trip is to take place by the end of May '95.

The next meeting was arranged for Thursday, January 5th 1995 ......