Celebrating 150 years at St. John’s

Anniversary celebrations come and go, but 150th gatherings are, if nothing else, unique occasions.

Anniversary celebrations come and go, but 150th gatherings are, if nothing else, unique occasions.

Yet for the committee members of St John’s Church, on the outer fringes of Lanesboro, this Friday can’t come soon enough.

For the past number of weeks, parishioners have been busy putting the finishing touches to a weekend of historic resonance and quiet reflection.

One of the organising members, Philip McGarry this week spoke candidly of the occasion and how it has attracted worthwhile contributions from locals of all ages.

“We are starting things off with a drama service on Friday at 7pm by the children of Lanesboro Primary School and St John’s Sunday School. We have a stage and backdrops put in place to add to it all,” he said somewhat excitedly.

However, it is the presence of a specially manufactured time capsule, due to be presented on the same evening, which has captured the imagination of Mr McGarry and those associated to the parish of Rathcline church.

“The capsule will be presented by the children of the Sunday school to our two church wardens,” Mr McGarry succinctly revealed.

Despite not being entirely briefed on the capsule’s contents, Mr McGarry paused to confirm that front pages of both the Longford Leader and Irish Times were likely to be included.

Plainly satisfied with how preparations have steadily advanced in recent weeks, he said trawling through vast reams of historical documentation presented openings as well as challenges in equal measure.

“What spurred it (anniversary celebrations) on was when we went back through old newspaper records of the Longford Journal where we found old newspaper records which proved very helpful,” he added, confiding archaic coins dating back to the church’s original formation 150 years ago were also recovered.

Whatever about obtaining key archival material, Mr McGarry was pleasantly honest about securing vital additional information.

“Going back to the fifth century was quite tough,” he confided. “But we do know that it (church) was under the control of Saints Island in Lough Ree. George Lane, the first Viscount of Lanesboro more or less rebuilt the church on the site.”

Hailing from Tulsk, Co Roscommon, the former viscount is expected to feature heavily in an all day exhibition, scheduled from 10am-6pm this Saturday.

Less than 24 hours later, a special ‘Service of Thanksgiving’ (3:30pm) takes centre stage under the guidance of Bishop Ken Clarke.

Following the service, refreshments will be served in the nearby St Mary’s Hall in what Mr McGarry believes will provide a noteworthy insight into the church’s rich historical past.

“So far so good. The church was first dedicated on April 23 1862 and our service is actually on April 22 2012,” he pointed out, stopping to quietly joke: “I suppose you can’t have everything.”