These sisters were:
Sr. Aloysius Martin,
Sr. Agnes Ryan,
Sr. M dePazzi McDermott and Sr. Stanislaus Tunney.
They had come at the invitation of Right Rev. Dean Eivers, P.P. Mohill, who through lack of funds could offer but scant accommodation to the Sisters. He had renovated and raised a second storey on the existing one-storey school.(The North West wing of the existing convent).
The upper portion was to be the sisters living quarters for the next ten years, while the school work continued downstairs
Mission & Purpose
In November 1890 this less-than-adequate school was replaced by the much-needed new two-storey building on the opposite side of the road. (The present Primary School) The school was officially blessed by Rev. Dr. Woodlock. It was thus that St. Joseph’s Primary School began. In 1936 a new addition was made. Owing to the decline in rural population in the 70’s, the rural schools of the parish were closed but their pupils and teachers continued their work in the town schools. In 1976 a special school was added to the existing primary school. All of this led to a need for further extension of the Primary School. The difficulty was quickly overcome, however, when the sisters offered a good existing building, which was converted into a three roomed infant school. (St. Oliver’s). The year 1979 saw this building much improved by the addition of a general purpose room and other amenities. In 1997/98 a further extension was made. This consisted of three modern classrooms, a Basket ball court, and a playing field. All of these together with the beautiful Arboretum planted on the occasion of the Schools Centenary celebration in1990 leaves our students with a very beautiful school and surroundings today. Thanks to the foresight and dedication of Sr. Celine who accomplished all of these during her principalship. The successive principals were: Sr. M dePazzi, Sr. Aloysius Martin, Sr. Berchmans Bermingham, Sr. Michael Condon, Sr. Stanislaus, and Sr. Celine. Mrs Brid McMahon carries the torch into this new century.
St. Mary’s church Eslin is located in the townland of Cavan and was built by the late Canon John Evers P.P. Mohill in the year 1844. The Reynolds family who were freeholders gave the site free. In its construction, a great amount of free labour was given. Only a few tradesmen were paid such as stonemasons and carpenters. Their wages were made up of pennies and halfpennies that were taken up at the weekly collection. The remainder was drawn from Parish funds. Its high-pitched roof was supported by three queen posts trusses.
These were made of pitch pine assembled on the ground and lifted into place where they were anchored into the walls.
Eight tall lancet windows, three on either side and one on each gable brought an abundance of light into the building.
A short distance up the road stood an old thatched church when penal laws against Catholics were being relaxed.
Subsequently, a national school was built on the site bearing the date 1869. A priest by the name of Thomas Smith lived in the townland of Cavan. He travelled from place to place on horseback attending to the needs of the people. St. Mary’s was refurbished by Fr. Brendan Manning in 1912. A bell tower was constructed and the present bell was installed which bears the name of Canon Felix Doherty the then Parish Priest of Mohill. Renovations were carried out throughout the years. Bishop Cahal Daly rededicated the church in 1980. Within its sturdy beams and walls lie the thoughts and prayers of the many generations of people that came to worship there.
St Joseph’s church was built around 1837 in the townland of Corrabeagh on a site donated by Lord Leitrim. J. McGreal, a grandfather of the late Frank McGreal, was the stonemason and the stones came from Wynnes’s and Canning’s quarries in Corgar. The roof of the chapel was taken to Gorvagh from Sligo by Thomas Wrynne, Corgar and Michael Murphy, Selton. It was a remarkable achievement for the people of the area considering the poverty that afflicted them at that time. The original Church was a simple barn-type building with a door on the north side. In pre-famine Ireland the house station was the principal form of religious practice in rural areas. Baptisms and Marriages were celebrated in the home or in the priest’s house. Funerals were also from the home. In the early years of Gorvagh Church with nearly 4,000 people living in the area, it was always overcrowded. Many people were so poor and badly dressed that they would not come the whole way to Mass, some came as far as Moran’s Hill and prayed there. The church was likely used as a school and for meetings in the early years. The synods of Thurles in 1850 and Maynooth in 1875 saw religious Practice become Church centred. The Thurles synod decreed that all Baptisms and Marriages take place in church and it urged priests that confessions be heard in church and women’s confessions to be heard in a confessional. The Maynooth synod put restrictions on house stations. To comply with those decrees 2 side aisles, a confessional and an altar were added to the church. In 1916 Fr. John Kiernan erected a small sacristy and a bell. William McGuiness and his father erected the stone walls around the church and hung iron gates, which were made in Kellegher’s Forge, Bohey. In 1928 Paddy Kennedy erected the two galleries in pitch pine and placed the statue of the Sacred Heart, donated by Charley Flynn N.T. in memory of his wife Teresa, on the left-hand side and the statue of St Anthony, donated by Kate Bohan in memory of her Mother Maria Higgins, on the right-hand side. Felix Cannon made the railings to protect the base of the statues. In the 1930s porches were added to protect the 3 doors and the Statue of St Joseph was placed on the front porch. Around 1960 the Kennedys put a new wooden floor in the church which was donated in memory of Mrs Teresa Murphy, Gorvagh. Some years after Vatican II Tommy and Joe Flynn, Drumlowan, transformed the Altar, which was originally donated by John McWeeney, Breandrum, in memory of his parents. In 1974 Jimmy Stenson, Carrick-on-Shannon, along with local voluntary help re-constructed the Church including a new roof at a cost of £10,000. Bishop Cahal Daly performed the re-dedication ceremony. The stone wall was removed in 1981 to make way for a car park. Sonny Whelan assisted by Michael Logan, John Patrick and Malachy Canning and Mickey and Johnny Wrynne erected a block wall around the church.
In 1987 under the guidance of Fr Columba McCole a large number of volunteers were cajoled to carry out extensive repairs on the Church including a new Sacristy, toilet, ceiling and wiring. Local tradesmen who worked at the Church were Sean McWeeney, Sonny Whelan, Paddy Flynn, Gerard Conefrey, Tony Donnelly, Michael Logan, Padraig O’Neill, Noel Whitlow, Don and Steve Flynn. A new grotto was erected beside the church. On Sunday 11th October 1987, St Joseph’s Church was re-dedicated by Bishop Colm 0′ Reilly with Fr Cyprian Conefrey preaching the sermon. Mrs Catherine Flynn and Mary Kate McGarty, Corrabeagh, were caretakers of the church for many years. After Mary Kate’s death, an altar society was formed. Paddy Kelly provided the music for the choir for many years.
St. Joseph’s is unique in that its congregation has always come from 4 parishes and because of the serious decline in population around Gorvagh it is only with the support of the people from Fenagh, Cloone and Kiltubrid that the Church can stay open.
Many Priests and Nuns who were born in the neighbouring parishes would have attended Mass regularly in Gorvagh including Sr. Anne Donnelly, Sr. Anthony Donegan, Fr. Brendan Heeran, Cornagun, and his 6 sisters who joined the convent, Sr. Rita, Sr. Christine, Sr Margaret, Sr. Sheila, Sr. Zita, Sr. Fidelma.
We always had a great variety of priests to celebrate Mass in Gorvagh during the summers of former years, among them were: Fr. P. and Fr. Pat Joe Moran, Fr. Jim Tubman, Fr. Naos McCool, Fr. Cyprian and Fr. Willie Conefrey, Fr. John Flynn, Fr. Berney Heeran, Drumcollip, Fr. Tom McLoughlin, Drumroosk and his wonderful sermons. Perhaps Johnny Wrynn was right to say we had great priests in Gorvagh long ago.
In the early 1800’s the Catholics of Mohill worshipped in a rural church on the outskirts of the town. The site of the old Parish Church is now the Convent Cemetery. By the year 1885, it had long been considered that this old church should be replaced by a building which would be more in accordance with the needs of the parish. The undertaking was not attempted until Fr. Francis Donohoe P.P. succeeded to the parish in 1881. He immediately set to work on the arduous task of fundraising in a town which housed at least 200 people in its workhouse at the time. On St. Patrick’s Day 1885, the then Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois, Most Rev. Dr. Woodlock, presided at the laying and blessing of the foundation stone for the new Parish Church, which would be erected in honour of St. Patrick. It would be a House of Prayer “suitable for the workshop of the Great Architect”. Sufficient funds were not available at the time for the completion of the edifice, but Fr. Donohoe was liberally assisted by his parishioners who contributed generously despite the social and economic hardships of the time. A collection at the foundation-laying ceremony yielded an August sum of between £400 and £500. Immediately after the laying of the foundation stone, work commenced on the building under the supervision of the distinguished builder, Mr Hughes, with Fr Donohoe acting architect on the site. The parish priest was never absent from the scene of operation except when parochial duties demanded, and owing to his outstanding zeal and dedication, the splendid building for Divine worship was raised in twelve months- an outstanding accomplishment even by today’s standards. The Leitrim Advertiser of March 18th, 1886 commended the trojan work of the parish. “Never has the erection of a building of such dimensions and beauty been so energetically proceeded and it is a fact to be wondered at that Mohill Roman Catholic Church was erected in twelve months.”
The people of Mohill were justifiably proud of their new church and they had the gratification of attending its consecration exactly one year to the day after work had commenced on the building. The Ceremony of Consecration was performed on March 13th, 1886 by the Most Rev. Dr. Woodlock, with Fr. Martin celebrating High Mass, assisted by the local curates Fr. Farrell C.C., Fr. Geraghty C.C. and Fr. Casserly. Fr. Gabriel O’Farrell O.P., a native of the parish, presented the sermon. He hailed the new church as “a monument of self-sacrifice”, which celebrated a great religious revival in a country which had suffered “an avalanche of persecution … tortures and the most infamous of laws at the hands of British soldiery.” The new church of St. Patrick was indeed a magnificent building situated behind a frontage of trees and commanded a pleasing prospect on a hilltop site overlooking the town.
The nave was capable of accommodating five hundred persons with the two side aisles affording accommodation for another five hundred. From the dedication day successive parish priests carried out the necessary repairs and improvements to the church. In 1936 the parish celebrated the golden jubilee of the dedication to divine service of St Patrick’s Church with Very Rev Canon Reynolds P.P. Ballinahown, Athlone, (a native of Gortletteragh, who was present at the laying of the foundation stone) celebrating High Mass in the presence of the Most Rev. Dr. McNamee, Bishop. After fifty years the church was in need of repair and renovations. To mark the jubilee, the then Parish Priest, Very Rev. Canon M.J. Masterson, announced plans to erect a bell tower and steeple, a new sanctuary and altar rails. The marble sanctuary was added and a grand organ was presented to mark the occasion- this organ was removed in later years. Various improvements, interior and exterior, were carried out in Canon Wall’s time as P.P. in the sixties. These included replacing the floor and ceilings, the addition of a side door, new confessionals and a Mortuary chapel was donated.
The priests were buried outside the main entrance but when the church was renovated they were re-interred at the side of the church.
The tree-lined grounds were levelled and replaced by a carpark and the Marian Shrine was removed. Later, in May 1966, a commemoratory Baptistery was erected at the rear of the church. In 1982, to mark the golden jubilee of the ordination of the then Parish Priest, Rt. Rev. Monsignor Thomas Sheeran, born in Mohill in 1907 and ordained in Maynooth in 1932, the people of Mohill installed chimes in the belfry. In 1986 Mohill Parish celebrated the centenary of St. Patrick’s Church. In the not-too-distant past and in accordance with ecclesiastical rules, the altar rails were removed and the altar was set in a position where the priest can face the congregation while saying Mass. There were also extensive and desirable improvements carried out to the church and its environs under the zealous Parish Priest, Canon Hubert Fee. The late Monsignor T. Sheeran was the first P.P. to be buried in the local cemetery amongst his own beloved parishioners with whom he had a very genuine affinity. The faith of the parishioners of Mohill is very strong and St. Patrick’s Church is a magnificent edifice, a truly fitting and reverend place of worship and a perpetual monument to all Mohillians, many of whom have gone to their eternal reward.