St. Joseph’s Church, Leitrim. By W.Downey.

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.

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