St. Joseph’s Church, Leitrim.
Prior to 1888 the people from the vicinity
of Leitrim Village had to travel to Carrick-on-Shannon or
Gowel to attend Sunday Mass. On rare occasions Mass was celebrated
in Harringtons or O’Connors (later Moffats) depending
on the availability of a Priest.
Canon Hoare was appointed to Kiltoghert Parish
in 1887, and very soon recognised the hardship people suffered
walking he long distance in all kinds of weather. He decided
to build a chapel in Leitrim. A suitable site was essential
and one was generously donated by Tom McDermott and his wife,
who was formerly Barry of Ballinwing. The Barrys were popular
land owners in the area. The local people were delighted with
the news. Canon Hoare had the mammoth task to raise the money
necessary to start the project. Times were bad and people
had not really recovered from the disasterous results of the
Famine period. However, the business people of Carrick-on-Shannon
were very generous as were the other parishioners. We are
told that a number of Protestant people from the village area
gave substantial donations. John Black and Dominic Noone were
two of the door-to-door collectors. About £1,000 was
required altogether. It was in 1892 that the debt was cleared,
or, so it is stated.
Enough money was available in 1888 to start
work on the site. The stones were quarried on the Green and
in Port and were conveyed by horse and cart, donkey and cart
to the field. Sand was carted from Aughnaslane an dlime from
near Drumshambo for the mortar. A large number of local people
gave their services voluntary with the foundation as well
as mixing mortar. The women filled the barrels with water
from the canal. Paddy Campbell, a noted stonemason, was one
of the masons who did the work on the walls. Two well-known
Drumboylan craftsmen, Sweeney and Gilboy and Mickey Lannon
of Fawn were with the team who createdthe lovely Pitch Pine
ceiling. The work was eventually finished and the Consecration
and Dedication took place on the Sunday before Christmas,
December 23rd 1888.
The Ceremony was performed by Most Rev. Dr.
Woodlock, Bishop of the Diocese. Master of Ceremonies was
Canon O’Farrell, Professor in St. Mel’s. Mass
was celebrated by Rev John Kelly, Drumsna Deacon and Rev.
Gabriel O’Farrell O.P., Tallaght preached the sermon.
Other Priests present were Fr. Reddy, Keadue, Fr Kelly, Cootehill
and Fr. Allen, Mohill. Micky Lannon was the first man to receive
Holy Communion that morning and Frank Irwin, Ballinaboy served
Mass. The Marist Sisters Choir rendered the music. The Church
was filled to overflowing. A very special day for Leitrim.
Two days later, nearly as big a crowd gathered
for Christmas Morning Mass. Hymns were sung with great enthusiasm.
A special Prayer was said for Canon Hoare. After Mass people
greeted each other warmly with the usual ‘Happy Christmas
and Prosperous New Year’ salutation. Most of them went
back into the church to have a good look around and great
compliments were paid to the constructors.
A Historical Note
In the Spring of 1923 – Eamonn
DeValera while on the run attended Mass in Leitrim Church,
from his safe haven in Drumhierney House.