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Chairperson of Creggan Historical Society, Michael McShane
Author and Treasurer of the Society, Geraldine Hanratty,
Secretary of the Society and Mons. Réamonn Ó Muirí,
Editor of Seanchas Ard Mhacha.
More than 60 people packed into the Cardinal O'Fiaich Centre on Thursday night for the launch of Michael McShane's book on the tombstone inscriptions in St Patrick's Cemetery.
Michael explained that the original intention had been to publish the guide as part of the 2001/2002 edition of the Society's journal - 'Creggan'. However, the amount of material on the cemetery was such that it warrented publication in its own right. He explained the layout of the cemetery and how this was mapped in the book. When the new church was built in the early 1890's the bodies of five priests who had been buried in the old church were reinterred under the bell tower. Michael recounted some aspects of the life and work of these men. One of these was Friar Paul McDonagh who had returned from the mission fields in France at the time of the United Irishmen Rebellion and was loved by the parishioners on the one hand and feared in equal measure on the other by the local forces of law and order. He was reputed to have magical powers to confound his enemies; one became insane when he came to arrest him, a troop of yeomen were drowned in a bog on a similar occasion. He wore neither cloak nor footwear and was noted for his long uncut silken hair. It was this hair, untouched by decay, that identified his body during reinterment.
Mons. Ó Muirí spoke of the importance of this 'beautiful book'. It was sometimes forgotten how important these 'little publications' were as a source of information on local matters. Over time there would be changes that oblitered these records in stone and these books would be invaluable in the future. So it was advisable to buy it now as it would soon enough be out print and unavailable anywhere. Reading through the book brought back in spirit those who had gone and made them live again. The names rang down over the centuries of those who had lived and worked among these hills. The area was of historical importance - the place of the MacMurphys and the O'Neills. He commended Michael and the Society for the production of this work of historical importance.
NOTE: A list of Society publications (including this book), price and how to obtain copies, is available HERE.