It was fortunate that on the day we called to see Mr
Mick McGinty of Cloghanmore, his brother-in-law Mr
Paddy McGlynn (of Ardbat and Glasgow) was on a visit
and we had the benefit of their combined recollections of
the building of the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour,
Glenfin. What a story of activity they unfolded.
of workmen engaged on the building of the Church in
1928. Also included in the group are Annie Breslin
and Marian Houston. Sadly, no member of this group
According to them, a donation of £4,000 left by Mr
McElwee of Meenlaharry, Cloghan for a new Church in
Glenfin, started it off. There was an annual collection
of four shillings per house being taken up for a number
of years, and then on a day in June 1925, the first burst
of activity reached Glenfin - the foreman came to employ
local labour to assist the tradesmen who were due to arrive
later. There were upwards of one hundred applicants for
ten jobs, but only able-bodied married men with families
were employed. The contractor was Mr McDonald from
Dundalk, and the men lucky enough to get jobs were:
||Jimmie McGlynn (known locally as Himmie)
||Donal Partlan; Patrick McGinty, Letterhillue
||Jimmy Gallagher, known as Jimmie Dubh
||Patrick McDermott of Milltown
||Paddy Boyce of Aughaveagh
And later Johnnie Boyce Junior of Aughaveagh who
returned from America. These men worked with handbarrows
and as the work progressed they carried hods. The nipper
on the job, the man who made tea, fetched and carried, was
Michael McKelvey, Gortness. Also employed were Paddy
McMenamin, Paddy McDermott, Stragally, and James
Over in Mountcharles, they began cutting and dressing stones
and putting them in railway wagons at Mountcharles Station
and railed them thence to Cloghan where they were unloaded
on to carts and brought to the site by horse power. The
quarrying of ordinary stones began in James Bonner's
quarry in Brockagh, Barney Martin was carting sand
daily from Martin's pit in the Milltown. River sand was
brought from the Reelin and from Big Jim Kees of
No matter what it says in records, Mick McGinty says he
and John Boyce of Cloghanmore cut the first sods. The way
it happened was that the two of them were at the site one
day before work began, the contractor Mr McDonald wanted
to have a look at the 'bottom' under the site and he set
the two of them to dig deep holes. Mick started near the
main door and John dug up behind where the altar is now.
They went down till they hit the hard gravel. Mr McDonald
gave them five shillings for their work, which they considered
very generous of him, since a labourer's pay at that time
was half-a-crown a day. The labouring men employed by Mr
McDonald were paid twenty-eight shillings a week.
Names that stuck in their memories of the visiting craftsmen
were Mick Copus, Peter Matthews, foreman's name was
Neil Colburn, there were two McGivern brothers,
Patrick McCann was a foreman mason, Paddy Lawless,
Patrick Plunkett, a Mr Shields and a Mr McKevitt,
both of whose first names were forgotten.
Some of them lodged around in local houses, but eventually
they all finished up in the Brockagh region.
Brockagh took on all the trappings of
a boom town!
The parish priest is reported to have said that the building
might turn out to be damp, because there was as much porter
drunk as would mix all the mortar.
year 1538, the Catholic faith in the Finn Valley was
at its lowest ever ebb when the obligation of Sunday
Mass was not taken seriously, and the average Catholic
made use of the Sacraments of Confession and Communion
only once a year.
Vividly remembered was the man who attended the slaters.
He wore a pad on his head, he put seven of the huge stone
slates on his head and walked up a thirty foot ladder without
touching the load with his hands. He walked down again with
his hands in his pockets.
An artisan came from Belfast to carve the pillars, his
name was Jack May. In true artist fashion he had
very long hair which made it's way out through his hat.
He had a set of carving chisels which needed special tempering,
Conal Harkin did them a few times and then young
Dan Arnold of Kiltyferrigal, who had a portable forge,
kept them in order until his task was finished.
All these men walked from Brockagh to their work every
morning, and walked back again in the evening. It is on
record that the Belfast men said a bicycle was only a one
way vehicle in Glenfin, it was all right for coming down,
but no use at all going up.
Chapel Bell - June 2002
When the chapel bell, which was then in it's present position,
rang, it could be heard all over the parish, but as soon
as the roof went on the chapel, the sound was muffled for
all places above Brockagh
Romances of course entered into the enterprise. The
foreman, Neil Colburn, married Margaret McGlynn of Moneen
and they set up house in Hannas of Corlecky. Mick Copus,
a carpenter, married Rose Ann Breslin of Brockagh, and a
grandson of hers visited Brockagh as late as the nineteen
How all things work together for good is surely demonstrated
in the story of Mr Anthony Carlin, the man who donated
the high altar. He was a very fine looking man who bought
a horse off a neighbour, the horse proved unsatisfactory
and he went to court about it. He lost the case and incurred
costs and expenses which cleaned him out, and left him with
the price of his passage to America. He called in America
at the house of a rich man who had a neighbour girl from
Glenfin employed. The rich man's daughter happened to be
looking out the window, and in no time at all he was calling
at the front door and the rich man's daughter became Mrs.
Anthony Carlin. When the late Very Rev. Peadar McGlinchey
P.P. was visiting America in the twenties, he met the
Carlins and persuaded them to donate the high altar to Glenfin.
One thing the strangers found amazing was the name of
the shop in Kiltyferrigal, now owned by Miss N. Hone. The
shop was owned by Miss Mary Gallagher, whose father was
the first man to bring tea up to Glenfin, and Mary had married
Mr Jimmie Gallagher. Some people would ask the nipper to
go to Mary Harkin's for tobacco and the next person would
say he was to go to Jimmie Gallaghers. It surprised them
no end to find out there was only one shop. Mrs. Gallagher
survived her husband by many years and when she died it
was announced at her funeral mass that she had left their
entire life savings to the church building fund.
The last Mass in the old chapel was a funeral Mass for
Mrs. McCool (nee Foy) of Kinaderry. The grand opening
attracted an overflow congregation, and at the collection
taken up, Mr McDonald paid the biggest single subscription,
Hannigan's plaque in the Church
The first sermon was preached by a Redemptorist, Fr.
Coyle, and Paddy McGlynn (Ardbat and Glasgow) remembers
clearly Mr Peter McMenamin (Peadar Teague Mor) of
Ardlaghan setting out for the ceremony on a saddled horse.
There were twenty side cars and traps, and the rest of
the overflow congregation came walking. Some time afterwards
there was a mission which attracted so many people to it's
closing that it had to be conducted in the open air.
The first baby baptised was James Hannigan, who afterwards
became the first person to be ordained there, and went on
to become Monsignor Hannigan (later
Bishop). One of the first Funeral Masses in the new
Church was for his mother who died shortly after his birth.
The first marriage solemnised in the new Church was
between David Fitzgerald, Cloghanbeg and Rose Magee, Garvan.