Wednesday, 16 March 2022

Ballyshannon Memories of St. Patrick's Day 2022

 

Rag Tree at St. Patrick's  Well Ballyshannon

Happy St. Patrick's Day 2022 to those at home and away with  Ballyshannon connections or interests. Nostalgic memories today include customs and cures at St. Patrick's Well,  photos of the town band on St. Patrick's Day and remembering the man from California who gave St. Patrick's statue to our town. 

The present St. Patrick's Well in Ballyshannon was opened in 1929 although pilgrims had visited the site to worship for hundreds of years.


"Pray for the Donor" inscription on statue of
St. Patrick. Donor revealed below.

On St. Patrick’s Day 1932 the new statue to St. Patrick was blessed at the Abbey Well by Monsignor McGinley D.D. The statue was donated anonymously.  In 1940 the identity of the donor was revealed when Maurice P. Hayes died in that year at Santa Monica in California. His connection with the Ballyshannon area was through his friendship with William Meehan of Durnish Rossnowlagh and he had acted as executor of his will in 1905. Much later he met Fr. Griffith, a nephew of William Meehan, who was a curate in Ballyshannon. The Hayes family came on a trip to Ireland and met Fr. Griffith in Dublin where he told them of the development of the Abbey Well.  Maurice Hayes gave a gift of the statue of St. Patrick which still stands at the Abbey Well with the inscription; “Pray for the Donor.”  

A station at Ballyshannon's St. Patrick's Well

The Stations at the Abbey Well
Patterns or festivals were celebrated in honour of the patron saint (patrún) of a district or of some saint associated with the area. The pattern at the Abbey Well was held on the Feast of the Assumption on the 15th August each year. It is possible this feast day was chosen because the nearby Abbey of Assaroe was dedicated to Mary. Patterns were important social occasions and, according to tradition, the pattern at the Abbey Well was attended by large crowds up to the nineteenth century with the religious and social events lasting for a few days.
On arrival at the Abbey Well, the pilgrims on some occasions would have Mass celebrated for them, but for the most part they would have performed the station. The station involved reciting set prayers and moving around beds in a similar manner to Lough Derg at the present time. According to folklore the station at the Abbey Well went as follows: Fifteen pebbles were picked from the river bed or station bed and pilgrims began by saying, one Our Father, one Hail Mary and one Creed while kneeling at the well. Then going sun wise they knelt at each bed, saying one Our Father, ten Hail Mary’s and one Creed. A pebble was tossed into each bed. The round of five beds was completed three times and the station was concluded by taking three sips of water from the well and saying a rosary at the grotto.

Rag Tree at St. Patrick's Well

Despite the religious revival in the 1930s and 1940s,  large crowds visiting the Abbey Well gradually waned and nowadays visits to the well are infrequent, except on days like the 15th of August when people still carry on the tradition of visiting the well on the pattern day. 
A feature of the Abbey Well which still attracts great interest from visitors are the rags on the white thorn bushes. Wells were said to have certain cures attached to them and the Abbey Well water was said to be most beneficial for trouble of the eyes. Offerings of coins, medals, flowers and cloth are associated with wells in various parts of the country and the tradition is still practised at the Abbey Well. This tradition of pilgrims with illness or concerns, praying and leaving a piece of cloth on a bush, reminds us that in our modern world there are still echoes of a world which has not fully vanished.

Ballyshannon Brass and Reed Band at St. Patrick's Well in 1947
               Front (l.to r.) Cyril Curran, Leo Masterson (young boy), John McCafferty
                 Middle Row: Freddie McDonagh, Patsy O' Donnell, Sean Fox, Jim Dolan,
 P.J. Goan, Tom Gallagher, Jim Gallagher, Jimmy Daly.
                   Back Row: Bob Gallagher, Jim Gallagher, James Gallogley, Packie McIvor,
                              Jimmy McNulty, John Davy, Pat McGahern, Seamus Gallagher, Jimmy Coughlin.


Ballyshannon Band at Sligo Parade St. Patrick's ' Day 1979
        Front (l.to r.) Padraig McGarrigle, Danny McGeever, Seamus Gallagher, Bob Gallagher
       Second Row (l.to r.) Jack Grimes, Packie Gallagher, Jimmy Rafferty, Francis Gallagher,
Tom Gallagher, Anthony Begley, James Hoey
            Third Row (l.to r.) Mickie Gallagher, Fergus Lawlor, Michael Dalton, P.J. Goan, Jim Gallagher
   Fourth Row Eamon Gallagher, Cecil Stephens, Michael Gallagher, Eugene McLoughlin
John McGahern.

Band members at St. Patrick's Day Parade Donegal Town 2012
(l.to r.) Danny Carron, Anthony Begley, Tom Gallagher, Michael Donagher


Limited edition quality hardback with dust jacket as above available in A Novel Idea and Local Hands Ballyshannon and Four Masters Bookshop Donegal Town. 
Also available signed copies, and inscriptions, for postage or collection from anthonyrbegley@hotmail.com

Topics include: How to go about Tracing your Roots/The first settlers in the area/ Newly researched history of the town of Ballyshannon and the townlands in Kilbarron and Mágh Éne parishes/ Records of the first travellers and tourists to Ballyshannon, Bundoran, Belleek, Rossnowlagh and Ballintra/An aerial guide to place names along the Erne from Ballyshannon to the Bar/Flora and Fauna of the area/  5  Members of Parliament from Ballyshannon/ A history of buildings and housing estates in the locality/Graveyard Inscriptions from the Abbey graveyard, St. Joseph’s and St. Anne’s /Rolling back the years with many memories of the Great Famine, Independence struggle, hydro-electric scheme, Gaelic games, boxing, handball, Boy Scouts, soccer, mummers, characters, organisations, folklore and lots more.

Thursday, 15 April 2021

On this day 90 years ago a rare event remembered by a Ballyshannon woman.

 



On this very day 90 years ago a rare memory by a Ballyshannon woman of an event  which will never be repeated in the town. 

 The Mystery of a black coffin solved
Many years ago a neighbour of mine Brigid Kelly told me that she attended a mass for Fr. Tierney on Wednesday 15th April 1931and that there was a black coffin in the chapel. She had a very keen memory and recalled this solemn event which had a draped coffin in front of the High Altar. This was the first time I had ever heard of a coffin in the chapel with no remains although it may have been familiar to other people. She recalled that there was an air of great sadness in the church and no doubt the coffin in front of the altar added to the touching scene with many in tears. Canon McGrath P.P. Bundoran celebrated the Mass and Monsignor Tierney P.P. Enniskillen presided at the Solemn Office for the Dead with Fr. Timoney from St. Joseph’s as one of the chanters. There were upwards of 40 priests in attendance and some businesses in the town were closed to give employees an opportunity of showing solidarity with this martyred priest. Fr. Tierney is buried in China. 
The  people of Ballyshannon and many from Bundoran, Belleek and outlying districts packed St. Joseph’s Church for a requiem mass in his memory. Fr. Tierney as some will know served in this chapel from 1911-1917 and was very popular with the parishioners many of whom were at this special ceremony. 
Fr. Tierney G.A.A Park in Ballyshannon in memory of this martyred priest.


On the 18th February I posted a blog available in the blog archive at the side of this blog which attracted lots of interest . “From Ballyshannon to China a never forgotten event” told the story of Fr. Tierney who was a priest in the Rock who volunteered to serve in China where he was killed 90 years ago in February 1931. He is buried there but the community in Ballyshannon decided to have a Requiem Mass with a difference in his memory. 

St. Joseph's Church with the Fr. Tierney
Memorial  visible
inside the railing to the left of front door






Today he is remembered by the Aodh Ruadh club who named their football pitch after him and he is also remembered by a memorial at the entrance to St. Joseph’s Church which was erected by Fr. Munster who also served in St. Joseph’s church in recent years. For more information read the blog archive to the right of this article for 18th February 2021.


Memorial to Fr. Tierney in St. Joseph's Church



Limited edition quality hardback with dust jacket as above available in A Novel Idea and Local Hands Ballyshannon and Four Masters Bookshop Donegal Town. 
Also available signed copies, and inscriptions, for postage or collection from anthonyrbegley@hotmail.com

Topics include: How to go about Tracing your Roots/The first settlers in the area/ Newly researched history of the town of Ballyshannon and the townlands in Kilbarron and Mágh Éne parishes/ Records of the first travellers and tourists to Ballyshannon, Bundoran, Belleek, Rossnowlagh and Ballintra/An aerial guide to place names along the Erne from Ballyshannon to the Bar/Flora and Fauna of the area/  5  Members of Parliament from Ballyshannon/ A history of buildings and housing estates in the locality/Graveyard Inscriptions from the Abbey graveyard, St. Joseph’s and St. Anne’s /Rolling back the years with many memories of the Great Famine, Independence struggle, hydro-electric scheme, Gaelic games, boxing, handball, Boy Scouts, soccer, mummers, characters, organisations, folklore and lots more.

Saturday, 3 April 2021

On this day 90 years ago a rare event remembered by a Ballyshannon woman.

Fr. Tierney

On this very day 90 years ago a rare memory by a Ballyshannon woman of an event  which will never be repeated in the town. 

 The Mystery of a black coffin solved
Many years ago a neighbour of mine Brigid Kelly told me that she attended a mass for Fr. Tierney on Wednesday 15th April 1931and that there was a black coffin in the chapel. She had a very keen memory and recalled this solemn event which had a draped coffin in front of the High Altar. This was the first time I had ever heard of a coffin in the chapel with no remains although it may have been familiar to other people. She recalled that there was an air of great sadness in the church and no doubt the coffin in front of the altar added to the touching scene with many in tears. Canon McGrath P.P. Bundoran celebrated the Mass and Monsignor Tierney P.P. Enniskillen presided at the Solemn Office for the Dead with Fr. Timoney from St. Joseph’s as one of the chanters. There were upwards of 40 priests in attendance and some businesses in the town were closed to give employees an opportunity of showing solidarity with this martyred priest. Fr. Tierney is buried in China. 
The  people of Ballyshannon and many from Bundoran, Belleek and outlying districts packed St. Joseph’s Church for a requiem mass in his memory. Fr. Tierney as some will know served in this chapel from 1911-1917 and was very popular with the parishioners many of whom were at this special ceremony. 
Fr. Tierney G.A.A Park in Ballyshannon in memory of this martyred priest.


On the 18th February I posted a blog available in the blog archive at the side of this blog which attracted lots of interest . “From Ballyshannon to China a never forgotten event” told the story of Fr. Tierney who was a priest in the Rock who volunteered to serve in China where he was killed 90 years ago in February 1931. He is buried there but the community in Ballyshannon decided to have a Requiem Mass with a difference in his memory. 

St. Joseph's Church with the Fr. Tierney
Memorial  visible
inside the railing to the left of front door






Today he is remembered by the Aodh Ruadh club who named their football pitch after him and he is also remembered by a memorial at the entrance to St. Joseph’s Church which was erected by Fr. Munster who also served in St. Joseph’s church in recent years. For more information read the blog archive to the right of this article for 18th February 2021.


Memorial to Fr. Tierney in St. Joseph's Church



Limited edition quality hardback with dust jacket as above available in A Novel Idea and Local Hands Ballyshannon and Four Masters Bookshop Donegal Town. 
Also available signed copies, and inscriptions, for postage or collection from anthonyrbegley@hotmail.com

Topics include: How to go about Tracing your Roots/The first settlers in the area/ Newly researched history of the town of Ballyshannon and the townlands in Kilbarron and Mágh Éne parishes/ Records of the first travellers and tourists to Ballyshannon, Bundoran, Belleek, Rossnowlagh and Ballintra/An aerial guide to place names along the Erne from Ballyshannon to the Bar/Flora and Fauna of the area/  5  Members of Parliament from Ballyshannon/ A history of buildings and housing estates in the locality/Graveyard Inscriptions from the Abbey graveyard, St. Joseph’s and St. Anne’s /Rolling back the years with many memories of the Great Famine, Independence struggle, hydro-electric scheme, Gaelic games, boxing, handball, Boy Scouts, soccer, mummers, characters, organisations, folklore and lots more.

Wednesday, 17 March 2021

Ballyshannon Memories on St. Patrick's Day

Rag Tree at St. Patrick's  Well Ballyshannon

Happy St. Patrick's Day to those at home and away with  Ballyshannon connections or interests. Nostalgic memories today include customs and cures at St. Patrick's Well,  photos of the town band on St. Patrick's Day and remembering the man from California who gave St. Patrick's statue to our town. 

The present St. Patrick's Well in Ballyshannon was opened in 1929 although pilgrims had visited the site to worship for hundreds of years.

  
"Pray for the Donor" inscription on statue of
St. Patrick. Donor revealed below.

On St. Patrick’s Day 1932 the new statue to St. Patrick was blessed at the Abbey Well by Monsignor McGinley D.D. The statue was donated anonymously.  In 1940 the identity of the donor was revealed when Maurice P. Hayes died in that year at Santa Monica in California. His connection with the Ballyshannon area was through his friendship with William Meehan of Durnish Rossnowlagh and he had acted as executor of his will in 1905. Much later he met Fr. Griffith, a nephew of William Meehan, who was a curate in Ballyshannon. The Hayes family came on a trip to Ireland and met Fr. Griffith in Dublin where he told them of the development of the Abbey Well.  Maurice Hayes gave a gift of the statue of St. Patrick which still stands at the Abbey Well with the inscription; “Pray for the Donor.”


A station at Ballyshannon's St. Patrick's Well


The Stations at the Abbey Well
Patterns or festivals were celebrated in honour of the patron saint (patrún) of a district or of some saint associated with the area. The pattern at the Abbey Well was held on the Feast of the Assumption on the 15th August each year. It is possible this feast day was chosen because the nearby Abbey of Assaroe was dedicated to Mary. Patterns were important social occasions and, according to tradition, the pattern at the Abbey Well was attended by large crowds up to the nineteenth century with the religious and social events lasting for a few days.
On arrival at the Abbey Well, the pilgrims on some occasions would have Mass celebrated for them, but for the most part they would have performed the station. The station involved reciting set prayers and moving around beds in a similar manner to Lough Derg at the present time. According to folklore the station at the Abbey Well went as follows: Fifteen pebbles were picked from the river bed or station bed and pilgrims began by saying, one Our Father, one Hail Mary and one Creed while kneeling at the well. Then going sun wise they knelt at each bed, saying one Our Father, ten Hail Mary’s and one Creed. A pebble was tossed into each bed. The round of five beds was completed three times and the station was concluded by taking three sips of water from the well and saying a rosary at the grotto

Rag Tree at St. Patrick's Well
Despite the religious revival in the 1930s and 1940s,  large crowds visiting the Abbey Well gradually waned and nowadays visits to the well are infrequent, except on days like the 15th of August when people still carry on the tradition of visiting the well on the pattern day. 
A feature of the Abbey Well which still attracts great interest from visitors are the rags on the white thorn bushes. Wells were said to have certain cures attached to them and the Abbey Well water was said to be most beneficial for trouble of the eyes. Offerings of coins, medals, flowers and cloth are associated with wells in various parts of the country and the tradition is still practised at the Abbey Well. This tradition of pilgrims with illness or concerns, praying and leaving a piece of cloth on a bush, reminds us that in our modern world there are still echoes of a world which has not fully vanished.

Ballyshannon Brass and Reed Band at St. Patrick's Well in 1947
               Front (l.to r.) Cyril Curran, Leo Masterson (young boy), John McCafferty
                 Middle Row: Freddie McDonagh, Patsy O' Donnell, Sean Fox, Jim Dolan,
 P.J. Goan, Tom Gallagher, Jim Gallagher, Jimmy Daly.
                   Back Row: Bob Gallagher, Jim Gallagher, James Gallogley, Packie McIvor,
                              Jimmy McNulty, John Davy, Pat McGahern, Seamus Gallagher, Jimmy Coughlin.


Ballyshannon Band at Sligo Parade St. Patrick's ' Day 1979
        Front (l.to r.) Padraig McGarrigle, Danny McGeever, Seamus Gallagher, Bob Gallagher
       Second Row (l.to r.) Jack Grimes, Packie Gallagher, Jimmy Rafferty, Francis Gallagher,
Tom Gallagher, Anthony Begley, James Hoey
            Third Row (l.to r.) Mickie Gallagher, Fergus Lawlor, Michael Dalton, P.J. Goan, Jim Gallagher
   Fourth Row Eamon Gallagher, Cecil Stephens, Michael Gallagher, Eugene McLoughlin
John McGahern.
Band members at St. Patrick's Day Parade Donegal Town 2012
(l.to r.) Danny Carron, Anthony Begley, Tom Gallagher, Michael Donagher
                         Tom Gallagher is the longest serving member in the  history of the band.






Limited edition quality hardback with dust jacket as above available in A Novel Idea and Local Hands Ballyshannon and 
Four Masters Bookshop Donegal Town. 
Also available signed copies, and inscriptions, for postage or collection from anthonyrbegley@hotmail.com

Topics include: How to go about Tracing your Roots/The first settlers in the area/ Newly researched history of the town of Ballyshannon and the townlands in Kilbarron and Mágh Éne parishes/ Records of the first travellers and tourists to Ballyshannon, Bundoran, Belleek, Rossnowlagh and Ballintra/An aerial guide to place names along the Erne from Ballyshannon to the Bar/Flora and Fauna of the area/  5  Members of Parliament from Ballyshannon/ A history of buildings and housing estates in the locality/Graveyard Inscriptions from the Abbey graveyard, St. Joseph’s and St. Anne’s /Rolling back the years with many memories of the Great Famine, Independence struggle, hydro-electric scheme, Gaelic games, boxing, handball, Boy Scouts, soccer, mummers, characters, organisations, folklore and lots more.


Tuesday, 9 March 2021

On Ths Day. A Memorable Event in Ballyshannon with Rare Photographs

 

Sean T. O Kelly at the opening of Falgarragh Park in March 1936. The Sheil Hospital in the background. Local men have a grandstand view from the wall of the Sheil Hospital.

Do you recognise any local people in these 3  rare quality photographs at the opening of the  biggest housing story in Ballyshannon on the 9th March 1936?  The opening was beside the Sheil Hospital  which will be the biggest building project in  our lifetimes. Next blog will be on St. Patrick's Day.

The second largest housing scheme in the Ulster counties of Cavan, Donegal, and Monaghan was opened at Falgarragh Park Ballyshannon by Sean T.O’Kelly, Minister for Local Government and Public Health  on Monday 9th March 1936. Mr. O’Kelly had played an important role in the 1916 Rising, twenty years before, and was later to become the second President of Ireland. On his visit he firstly inspected the new housing scheme at East Rock which had recently been built on the site of the Rock Barracks. Fr. Timoney blessed the houses and the Minister inspected and complimented the workmanship in their construction. He then visited the Mall Hosiery where the proprietor Mr. Swan presented him with a beautiful cardigan made in the factory. He also visited the Mall Quay and surrounding areas where he praised the new seating, shelter and dance platform recently completed as part of the Town Improvement Scheme. He also visited the Mall Laundry where he was welcomed by the proprietors Mr. & Mrs. M. Ward. 

This was the end of the era of thatched houses in Ballyshannon in what is known as The Ballyshannon Clearances when sub-standard houses were replaced by new houses.

The unique photographs in this blog were given to me by Cecil Stephens (junior) whose father also called Cecil was Town Clerk in 1936. Both father and son were great townsmen and local historians. The photographs may have been the work of Mardi Kelly a well-known local photographer who has left great images of The Erne Hydro-Electric Scheme of the 1940s.


Sean T.O' Kelly cutting the tape. On extreme left is Cecil Stephens Town Clerk, Dean McGinley is on the right of Sean T. O' Kelly and Major Myles T.D. is on the left in the light coloured coat. 


Official Opening of Falgarragh Park (now called St. Benildus Avenue)

At 12.30 Sean T.O’Kelly attended the official opening ceremony of the 80 houses at Falgarragh Park which he described as “the most beautiful he had yet seen”. The Minister remarked on the numbers of houses that needed to be replaced all over Ireland to stop the spread of tuberculosis and infant mortality and welcomed this new housing development in Ballyshannon.  Present with the Minister were local clergy Dean McGinley, Fr. McMullin and Fr. McGroarty who blessed the houses. Also present were Cecil Stephens, Town Clerk, Mr. Lysaght Commissioner in charge of the Town Commissioners, M.F. Irwin C.E. Clerk of Works, W.J. Doherty architect of the scheme, reps. of contractor Kilcawley, Maloney and Taylor Ballisadare Co. Sligo, Dr. Gordon, Major Myles T.D. and Brian Brady T.D. The tape of number 77 was then cut by the Minister who inspected the house.




A fuller account of the housing schemes at  Falgarragh,  East Rock , Erne Street, Abbey View Terrace and Cluain Barron are contained in the book “Ballyshannon Genealogy and History” available in local shops. It also contains the biggest housing changes ever in Ballyshannon in the 1930s which I call the Ballyshannon Clearances.  See below for book details. Read also about local incidents in the independence struggle and lots of local history.

Below is an extract from a poem which has twelve verses and a number of verses are parodies of William Allingham’s “Adieu to Ballyshanny”. The poem was written by Dan McCauley who had fought in World War 1 and whose family, were one of a number of families, who left condemned houses in places like Bachelor’s Walk and the Back Street to live in the new houses which had all modern amenities. The McCauleys had lived on Bachelor's Walk.




 The Flight to Falgarragh

‘Twas in an old thatched cabin

With its walls as white as snow,

Where mother dear, (God rest her soul),

Some forty years ago-

Told me of some noble deeds,

How the great Red Hugh did turn

The Saxon from Tirconaill

On the Winding Banks of Erne.



I’ve trod the world ever since,

I’ve ploughed the seas afar,

I’ve seen Killarney’s lakes and fells,

And historic Castlebar.

From County Down to Cavan Town,

Through Fermanagh’s leafy fern,

Till I landed at Falgarragh

On the Winding Banks of Erne.


And now we have a Housing Scheme

To brighten up the town:

We’ll clear out all slum dwellings

And pull the old shacks down,

A brand new house they’re giving us,

              And its Finn Hill turf we’ll burn,

Away in grey Falgarragh

By the Winding Banks of Erne.


Limited edition quality hardback with dust jacket as above available in A Novel Idea and Local Hands Ballyshannon and Four Masters Bookshop Donegal Town. 
Also available signed copies, and inscriptions, for postage or collection from anthonyrbegley@hotmail.com

Topics include: How to go about Tracing your Roots/The first settlers in the area/ Newly researched history of the town of Ballyshannon and the townlands in Kilbarron and Mágh Éne parishes/ Records of the first travellers and tourists to Ballyshannon, Bundoran, Belleek, Rossnowlagh and Ballintra/An aerial guide to place names along the Erne from Ballyshannon to the Bar/Flora and Fauna of the area/  5  Members of Parliament from Ballyshannon/ A history of buildings and housing estates in the locality/Graveyard Inscriptions from the Abbey graveyard, St. Joseph’s and St. Anne’s /Rolling back the years with many memories of the Great Famine, Independence struggle, hydro-electric scheme, Gaelic games, boxing, handball, Boy Scouts, soccer, mummers, characters, organisations, folklore and lots more.

Saturday, 27 February 2021

On this Day. From Ballyshannon to China a Never Forgotten Event

Fr. Tierney Park on the right , the Workhouse in the centre, and Munday's field on the left.

On this day, 28th February, 90 years ago, Ballyshannon was totally gripped by a story unfolding in far off China. This blog tells the story and has a very rare image with Ballyshannon links to an event in China still remembered in Ballyshannon today
The name of Fr. Tierney is still remembered by the Aodh Ruadh G.A.A. club in Ballyshannon who have named their main playing field in his memory. 
At St. Joseph’s Church nearby a commemorative stone records details of his life which was erected by Fr. Munster during his period as curate at St. Joseph's Church on the Rock. Inside the church is a photograph of Fr. Tierney and two framed newspaper articles from “The Donegal Vindicator”  which I donated recounting his  captivity in China. 

 • Fr.Cornelius Tierney was a native of Clones in Co. Monaghan. In 1911 he was appointed curate at St. Joseph’s Church on the Rock, where he was to serve until 1917. Fr. Tierney was the first priest to reside in the present parochial house which still stands above the football field. He was active in supporting Gaelic games and the Gaelic League. Fr. Tierney regularly gave Irish classes in the Rock Hall in the 1916 period
. • At the age of 45, Fr. Tierney had a strong urge to join the Maynooth Missions to China. After some soul searching he travelled to the Columban Mission House in Hangyang, Hupeh in China. He proceeded to learn the language and began the challenging work of spreading the Gospel.
 • Fr. Tierney paid a brief visit to Ballyshannon in 1927 and Bridget Kelly of West Rock, recalled his visit to the local primary school where she was a student. Her mother also told her that in his years as a curate on the Rock, Fr. Tierney was a familiar figure as he cycled to the homes of parishoners
 • On his return to China in 1928 he was put in charge of the mission at Kien Chang in Kiangsi. There was much unrest in China and Communist resistance was prevalent in Fr. Tierney’s region. Fr. Tierney wrote many letters during his years in China and his final letter, on the 1st November 1930, was to Dr. Mulhern, Bishop of Dromore, who had been parish priest in Bundoran with Fr. Tierney as his curate in St. Joseph’s Ballyshannon. He expressed concern about the unrest in China and indicated that the situation was difficult where he was. 

Fr. Tierney served in the Rock Church before
volunteering for China.
Fr. Tierney Captured and died in China
Two weeks after he wrote this letter Fr. Tierney was captured by Communists. His capture is recorded in a letter written by Fr. John Kerr from Kien Chang on Monday 24th November 1930: 

" He was captured on Friday morning, November 14th, at about 6 a.m. at my mission station, Shang Tang Hsu, about 50 li (17 miles) from Kien Chang. He had come to me, some days before, to oversee the building of a house for me, as previously I had been living in the sacristy. ------- The bandits arrived in the early hours of the morning, and lay outside the town to wait for dawn. When they heard the Catholic Church bell ring for Fr. Tierney’s mass they drew up and surrounded the place. At the last minute, a Catholic rushed in to tell the priest to fly. Fr. Tierney was just saying his prayers in preparation for mass. He jumped up from where he was kneeling, snatched his hat and rushed for the door. But it was too late: there was no escape. He was seized by two Communists just about ten yards from the door".
 • Fr. Tierney was held for ransom by the communists and he was treated harshly. During his captivity he was able to correspond with his colleagues in Latin. The final letter recorded from captivity was received in early December 1930 and in it he expressed thanks for medicines, bread, milk, coffee and clothes which his fellow priests had sent.
• According to reliable sources he was released from captivity but was recaptured by bandits. From fellow prisoners it was revealed that Fr. Tierney died on the evening of Saturday February 28th 1931 about 2 p.m. and was buried the same evening about 4 p.m. Finally after lengthy negotiations his remains were exhumed and brought to the city of Kien Chang (Maynooth Mission Headquarters, Province of Kiangsi). He was buried after High Mass on Wednesday 1st April 1931. 





Official Opening of Fr. Tierney Park 9th May 1954 
It was fitting that the Aodh Ruadh Club in Ballyshannon perpetuated the courage of this martyr priest by naming the Fr. Tierney Park in his memory. Fr. Tierney had been a great supporter of Gaelic Games and Irish culture. At the official opening, Canon Mc Quaid of Bundoran, assisted by Fr. Mc Elroy of St. Joseph’s Church blessed the new football field. The official opening saw a match between Donegal and Armagh with Donegal winning on a score line of 1-6 to 0-5.
 A Local   G.A.A. Anecdote
An interesting anecdote concerning Major Myles, a local businessman, and Fr. Tierney, curate on the Rock, occurred in 1914. Major Myles was walking up the Rock Road, prior to the outbreak of World War One, when he met Fr. Tierney near St. Joseph’s Church. Major Myles seemed to be in a melancholy mood and Fr. Tierney asked him what was bothering him. His reply was that he had enlisted in the army to fight in the First World War, and he feared that he might not return to Ballyshannon. Fr. Tierney assured him that he would be alright and years later when the local G.A.A club were building the Fr. Tierney Park, Major Myles subscribed generously to Mick Melly for the Park Development, no doubt remembering his conversation many years previously. 

Fr. Cornelius Tierney is not buried at St. Joseph’s but is interred in China where he died as a missionary priest spreading the gospel message. His memory will live on for generations of Gaelic football players in Fr. Tierney Park and for the local community at St. Joseph’s Church where his memorial is located.

Memorial to Fr. Tierney at St. Joseph's Church


Limited edition quality hardback with dust jacket as above available in A Novel Idea and Local Hands Ballyshannon and Four Masters Bookshop Donegal Town. 
Also available signed copies, and inscriptions, for postage or collection from anthonyrbegley@hotmail.com

Topics include: How to go about Tracing your Roots/The first settlers in the area/ Newly researched history of the town of Ballyshannon and the townlands in Kilbarron and Mágh Éne parishes/ Records of the first travellers and tourists to Ballyshannon, Bundoran, Belleek, Rossnowlagh and Ballintra/An aerial guide to place names along the Erne from Ballyshannon to the Bar/Flora and Fauna of the area/  5  Members of Parliament from Ballyshannon/ A history of buildings and housing estates in the locality/Graveyard Inscriptions from the Abbey graveyard, St. Joseph’s and St. Anne’s /Rolling back the years with many memories of the Great Famine, Independence struggle, hydro-electric scheme, Gaelic games, boxing, handball, Boy Scouts, soccer, mummers, characters, organisations, folklore and lots more.

Saturday, 20 February 2021

From Lover's Walk in Ballyshannon to The Fairy Bridges in Bundoran

This is a visual blog with 6  old local photos  but be prepared to be surprised.  The first image is of the beach in Bundoran  from a postcard in 1905 but have a close look at the second image which is supposed to be of  the same photo. They say the camera never lies but  can you spot changes in this and the other photos. In the Ballyshannon image Lover's Walk I believe was a movable location but perhaps someone can identify it?






Spot the differences in the 2 photos of the Fairy Bridges below.







Limited edition quality hardback with dust jacket as above available in A Novel Idea and Local Hands Ballyshannon and Four Masters Bookshop Donegal Town. 
Also available signed copies, and inscriptions, for postage or collection from anthonyrbegley@hotmail.com

Topics include: How to go about Tracing your Roots/The first settlers in the area/ Newly researched history of the town of Ballyshannon and the townlands in Kilbarron and Mágh Éne parishes/ Records of the first travellers and tourists to Ballyshannon, Bundoran, Belleek, Rossnowlagh and Ballintra/An aerial guide to place names along the Erne from Ballyshannon to the Bar/Flora and Fauna of the area/  5  Members of Parliament from Ballyshannon/ A history of buildings and housing estates in the locality/Graveyard Inscriptions from the Abbey graveyard, St. Joseph’s and St. Anne’s /Rolling back the years with many memories of the Great Famine, Independence struggle, hydro-electric scheme, Gaelic games, boxing, handball, Boy Scouts, soccer, mummers, characters, organisations, folklore and lots more.