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St. Brigid's, Glassdrummond

Tony Kieran

Reproduced, with the Society's permission, from the 1990 Journal of The Creggan Local History Society

Tony Kieran

St. Brigid's, Glassdrummond, is regarded by parishioners of all ages, by visitors and tourists from all over the globe, by people of all denominations as an imposing edifice, a magnificent monument, contributing to a faith worthy of the highest traditions of our race.

The church is built of the material of Ravensdale Castle, burnt down in the "trouble" of 1922.

When the Land Commission acquired the estate, the late Canon Peter Sheerin. P.P., Upper Creggan, bought the ruins and had the stone and bricks transported to Glassdrummond, where work began in 1928.

The architects, realising the beauty of the Italian tower and portico of the old castle, decided to reconstruct them exactly as they had existed, using all the beautiful granite ionic columns and entablature in forming a portico to the main entrance of the church.

This noble portico supports the saints of Ireland - Patrick, Brigid, Colmcille and Oliver Plunkett - and above them worked in rich mosaics is an image of St. Brigid, under whose patronage the church is dedicated.

Inside, one is impressed by a sanctuary filled with precious marbles, the nave with the columns of polished granite, covered with their finely chiseled capital and the graceful arches carrying the widely-flung roof - truly a fitting house of God on Earth.

On Saturday, September 24th 1932, his Eminence Cardinal McRory solemnly consecrated the altar of the church.

The dedication ceremony was performed on Sunday 25th at a High Mass presided over by his Eminence and celebrated by Most Rev. Dr. Mulhern, Bishop of Dromore.

The Bishop of Down and Connor, Most Rev. Dr. Mageean, preached the sermon to an overflowing congregation which included many clergy from all over the Archdiocese of Armagh; Rt. Rev. Mgr. Dean Quinn, Dungannon; Rev. T. Canon McDonnell, P.P., V. F., Portadown; Rev. H. Tohall, Adm., Dundalk; Rev. Canon McNally, P.P., Upper Killevy; Rev. E. Clarke. P. P., Mullaghbaile; Rev. Canon Loughran, P.P., Camlough; Rev. Canon Maguire, P. P., Castleblayney; Rev. Canon Donnellan, P.P., Haggardstown and Rev. J. McKeane, P.P., Faughart.

Master of Ceremonies was Rev. E. O'Callaghan, C.C., Armagh, and among the many curates present were Canon Sheerin's own, viz., Rev. L. Donnellan, C.C., Rev. F. Terry, C.C., and Rev. J. Ward, C.C.

A little item of note was the fact that Fr. L. Donnellan had arranged with the Northern Customs Authority for entrance facilities for motor cars by the approved road passing the "hut" at Ford's Cross from 10a.m. until lp.m., horse-drawn vehicles being allowed to travel by any road at any hour.

During the course of his sermon, Most Rev. Dr. Mageean described the dedication and opening of St. Brigid's as "an inspiring event in the lives of all Irish Catholics".

For the men and women of the parish there was a deeper and more personal significance, as this new church was a memorial of their loyalty to their faith in the past, which had progressed from penal days when an outlawed priest gathered with his faithful parishioners around the Carnally Mass-Rock. "This church of St. Brigid is a home for God on Earth and, for the people of the parish, the gate of Heaven which opens into eternal happiness for all from the cradle to the grave. This church is an achievement of which you may well feel proud. Your revered Parish Priest, Canon Sheerin, has worked strenuously for many years in the vineyard of the Lord. He has given of his best to you and you have co-operated loyally at all times with him. For him, this is a crowning work, the realisation of the dream of his priestly life".

Thus, briefly stated above is the background to St. Brigid's, Glassdrummond, whose opening climaxed for the parish of Upper Creggan a wonderful year which had seen many celebrations in honour of St. Patrick and the meeting of the 31st International Eucharistic Congress.

Pictures of the Church