from the Souvenir Booklet on the celebration of the Gowel Church Centenary.

Gowel Church was built just over one hundred years ago at a cost of just fifteen hundred pounds. But that was quite a considerable sum then, and it involved considerable generosity on the part of the people of Gowel, their neighbours in the rest of the parish and relatives and natives of the area who had been forced to make their livings in foreign fields of England, Scotland and America.

Emigration was as much a part of Irish life one hundred years ago as it is today. Many of the people who lived in the Gowel area existed on holdings so small that they were unable to pay rents to the local landlord, and were forced to visit England or Scotland regularly to earn money at Spring sowing and at Harvestime digging of the potato crops.

When Canon Hoare and Father Hourican began the work of raising funds for the new Chapel in Gowel a new site at Annaghearly was generously offered. However, the people of Gowel were determined that their church would be built on the site of the much older Penal Church which was then in use.

While it might have seemed desirable to move as far away as possible from what had become a miserable and decaying ruin, the Christians of Gowel had a strong sense of history and a true appreciation of the Faith of their forefathers who had built the old Penal Chapel.

The old ruined Chapel had once been the finest Catholic Church in Ireland, a Church which was built at considerable risk and with considerable sacrifice in tiems of persecution by a people of Faith. Those who had built the chapel had risked not just the threat of eviction but even the loss of life as they erected their simple barn like structure as their place of worship. There for many years people had come to join in the offering of the Mass, there they had prayer, there they had come to receive the Sacraments and there they brought their newborn children to be Baptised in the Faith of their Fathers. No other site no matter how suitable or how central could replace the sacred spot on which they would worship their God.

We know that a Dublin Architect, William Hague drew the plans for and supervised the buidling of the Church. The builders were local tradesmen Thomas Earley and James McKeon. No doubt they were assisted by others from the locality, Earley and McKeon worked in partnership on a number of buildings in the area including the building of Kiltoghert School. Thomas Earley was Grandfather of Tom Pat Earley who with some of his sons was involved in the re-construction of the Church a few years ago.

While the location of Gowel Church is now a quiet spot apart from the times when people come to pray, it was not always so. In the early part of the century there were no fewer than three shops in the vicinity of the Church, one in front of where the present Curate’s house stands near the well in the lawn and two on the other side of the road.

A local hall also stood almost on the site of the present house. This house was burned by Crown Forces (the dreaded Black and Tans) during the War of Independence. One of the witnesses of the burning, Mrs McLoughlin of Driney nee Ward of Gowel died just a few months ago.

The Church given to the people by the generosity of the people of Gowel one hundred years ago has survived because successive generations while holding on to the Faith handed on in the true Irish tradition have themselves maintained and refurbished the building.

As mentioned elsewhere Fr. Patrick Moran who built the present Curate’s House, with the help and generosity of the people of Gowel and of Leitrim then renovated the Church just about fifty years ago, when most if not all of the present windows were installed. The Contractor on that occasion was Michael McLoughlin, Effernagh who had also designed and built the imposing Curate’s Residence.

More recently the Church has been completely refurbished in 1986 under the guidance of Fr. Michael Rigney the then local Curate. The Contractor on that occasion was Peter (Sonny) Moran, a native of the area, like the other builders who have been employed on the Church over the years.

On all occasions when any work was undertaken it was made possible by the continued generosity of the people of the area and their friends in the rest of the Parish, and by the generosity of many of the emigrant sons and daughters of the area.

When the people of Gowel gather to celebrate the centenary of the Church appropriately enough on Emigrant Sunday, they celebrate the Faith of their Fathers who have faithfully lived and handed on the Faith from one generation to the next and given generously to the provision, maintenance of their place of worship from Penal times to the present day.

May future generations continue to be as faithful and generous.

  Carrick-on-Shannon, County Leitrim - Telephone : 071 96 20118