Gortletteragh

Leitrim Guardian 2014

Leitrim Guardian 2014

The 46th edition of the Leitrim Guardian was launched on Friday night last in the Standing Stone Hotel in Ballinamore. This is another fine production by editor, Blaithin Gallagher. As usual it is a bumper journal with something for every taste.

It was fitting that singer, Eleanor Shanley was chosen as the Leitrim Guardian Person of the Year for 2014 as she has been and continues to be a great ambassador for the county wherever she performs. Congratulations to our own Chloe Cunningham, Drimmeen on winning a literary award in this year’s Leitrim Guardian. She won first prize in the Poetry Category (Primary) for her lovely composition ‘My Leitrim Home’. William Burn’s award winning short story ‘Two Angels’ features the Carnival at Cornageeha, where the main character of story found himself a wife.

Susan Slott, from the series Glenroe, in her article ‘Sweet Leitrim’ brings us back in time as she reflects on her visits to her mother’s home in Clooncahir and the Lough Rynn area in the 1970s. The Drumgownagh Reunion book also features in new publications section as does Tommy Leslie’s vintage Jaguar car in Tony O’Reilly’s piece ‘Memories of Yesterday’. The Guardian still sells at €12 and is well worth the read. It can be purchased in Fox’s of Tooman and in Mohill and Drumlish.

Wedding Invitation

You are cordially invited to the marriage of Delliala Dolan, only daughter of Vinnie and Mairéad to Sheamie Bohan, youngest and only son of Tommy and Carmel at Gortletteragh Community Centre on 13th December, 2013 at 8pm.

All enquiries to the Wedding Planner, Franc!!

Christmas Party

The annual Christmas party for the senior citizens is on December 8th at 2.30pm in Fox’s Lounge. The committee look forward to a good turn out and you can be sure of comfortable surroundings and meeting old friends.

A 5K with a difference

On Sunday afternoon, November 17th as we started the Gortletteragh NS 5km journey, one could feel a sense of place and a sense of history about the chosen route. This was a stretch of road that had already been well travelled and down the centuries had been witness to its fair share of local and national history. For some, this was a race against the clock, for more it was a jog or brisk walk to tone up their bodies for the Christmas. For more of us it was just a leisurely autumn stroll, taking all the time in the world to appreciate what the journey had to offer. We kicked off from St Mary’s Gortletteragh, a church which attracted worldwide news coverage in 1860 when Lord Leitrim denied the faithful access to their place of worship in a dispute over rent with the then parish priest. A few perch up the road, at the parochial house entrance, King Edward V11 is still remembered, some 103 years after his reign as English monarch ended. His crown still adorns the post box. The straight stretch of road from the church to cemetery is a real harvest eye catcher. The seasonal beauty of the trees that lined this part of the route couldn’t but touch your heart and soul.

The Old National School has stood the test of more than a century and still plays its part in school and parish life. The first homestead of historical interest to catch the eye was the old Murray household, sited at the first turnoff for Farnaught. It tells the story of the parish’s connection with the literary genius, James Joyce. His maternal grandfather, John Murray was one this family. Indeed literary Gortletteragh is still alive and well. One of the young runner, Chloe Cunningham from Drimmeen has just been received a literary award from the Leitrim Guardian for her beautifully written poem ‘My Leitrim Home’. Yards down the road you come to McGarry’s lane which is steeped in history. It formed park of the old road from Mohill to Drumlish. Lord Cornwallis led his British army on this road on their way to the Battle of Ballinamuck. Later the Baroni Stagecoach, the first public transport in Ireland, travelled this route. McGarry’s residence was once a Coaching Inn where the stagecoach picked up and let off passengers. By the time we reached Farnaught cemetery, with its stately lych gate, we were now entering an area that in the late 1800s and early 1900s was the innovative commercial hub of the parish and the county. This new agricultural thinking of that time was spearheaded by the local Farnaught Church of Ireland rector, Rev. Joseph Digges. He set up an Agricultural Bank and many more projects to supplement farmer’s incomes. He did much to advance the well being of his fellow men and women of all religions. The mysticism writer and Coop organiser, George Russell (A.E.) cycled his bike on this same road to help with the setting up of the bank in 1902. It was on one of his visits that led to the unearthing of the little monastery at the back of the church. Rev Digges’ influence is still felt today, 80 years after his death. One of his publications is still used as a reference book in beekeeping. Easterbrooks’ bicycle repair shop brings back pleasant memories for children that passed this way on their way to school as does Betty Higgins’ country grocery shop. The fine cut lime kiln building stands as a monument to the stonemasons from the famine era. We pass the Gate House, the once dividing line between the ordinary folk and the aristocracy. Farnaught school, a few yards further on could tell it own story. It was here that Horace Plunkett, head of the Coop movement addressed a meeting of the local bank in 1907. It was also synonymous with Florrie Geddes-Thornton N.T., who diligently taught her Church of Ireland pupils here from it opened in 1923 until it closed in 1952. On passing the old dispensary we think of the many doctors who serviced this health centre down the years. Thoughts of the Bonfire Dances at Farnaught Cross flooded the memory and we felt like dancing ‘The Stack of Barley’ once more to the music of Gusty Murray and Tommy Joe and Mickey Reynolds. The school here was the one first National School to be set up in the parish in 1843. It later became a dancehall and would hold fond memories for some of the walkers, especially those who found husbands or wives there. On the other side of the road stands Farnaught RIC Barrack which was built in the famine times to keep a bit of English law and order on us peasants. At the founding of the Irish State it became a Garda station and later became Christie’s Post Office. As we start on the home straight we glance at the old curate’s house on the hill. It was at a meeting in this building in the early 60s that it was decided to buy and develop the present GAA pitch at Annaghmore. It was once a doctor’s residence.

Moffit’s Crossroads once boasted of having a shop and was a popular meeting place of old where young people gathered to play pitch and toss and to socialise. We can still feel the ringing in our ears of the hammer on the anvil as we pass the little triangle patch that once housed Hand’s forge. Every step of the journey felt as if you were walking in the foot prints of history.

On finishing our interesting stroll and ascended the steps of the old school, we thought that our historical trail had ended. However on entering the newly renovated school, we were treated to boxty brunch and an array of all types of delicious food by local chef, John Gerard Reynolds. John Gerard is descended from the very noble McRannaill clan who owned all South Leitrim in the middle ages and had their castle on the shores of Lough Rynn.