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History of the Parish of Banagher, Derry Diocese
...The Material Works of Fr. McCullagh.


Fincarn Hall was begun by Rev. M.Gildea and completed by Rev. John McCullagh PP in 1981 on the site of the school (built 1774).

With the blessing of Fr. McCullagh, Rev. John P. Forbes undertook the refurbishment and extension of the parochial house at Ballymonie with voluntary labour by parishioners in 1987, and the storm-glazing of the church in 1988.

Major refurbishing of buildings was undertaken by Fr. McCullagh. He began by lowering and restructuring the wall along the main road at St.Joseph’s Church.

The entrance to St. Mary’s PS. Altinure was refashioned and re-tarred.

He addressed himself to the problem of re-organising the sanctuary of St Joseph’s Church in accordance with the new liturgical requirements, a difficult task because of the stone altars set into the mosaic. In a compromise solution he removed part of the top step to make the climb less daunting and replaced the temporary altar installed by Rev Bernard Kelly with the wooden altar of the church at Carncorn, Ardstraw, which had closed, and laid carpet on the sanctuary and aisles.

He planned with architect Donald Forrest and built by direct labour in 1982 two new parochial houses at Fincarn and Altinure, acting as contractor and clerk of works himself at Fincarn and overseeing Rev. Kieran Devlin in a similar capacity at Altinure, both houses being built to the same plan. To help defray the heavy costs of such a programme he sold the parochial house and parochial farm at Fincarn (Tullygoan) which Fr. Walshe had bought for the parish from Fr. O’Donnell’s estate for £220 about 1894.

He initiated an ACE scheme to level and tidy up the graveyards at Altinure and Fincairn, planted ornamental trees at Fincarn and supported a plan to use the stone of the demolished parochial house at Altinure to build a retaining wall between church and graveyard at Altinure, and to construct stone walling around the house and graveyard at Fincairn. The walls were built by James O’Kane, Francis O’Hagan, Tom Ball, James McCloskey and Patrick J.McGrellis (and by Fr McCullagh). Under this scheme he also developed the football field to the rear of Fincarn PS.

He restored the grotto hall (formerly the stables) and re-roofed it with old slates from the church. He re-roofed St. Joseph’s with “Bangor Blue” slates, dealing directly with the slate quarries. He had interior painting done at all three churches. The exterior of St Joseph’s was sand blasted and repainted and stained glass windows and storm glazing were installed. The sacred vessels and tabernacle door were re-plated. In 1987 he installed a system of electronic bells, and was proud of the recording of some Christmas Carols he played over it. He saw it also as a means of encouraging the saying of the Angelus during the Marian Year.

To cure rising damp in St. Joseph’s he had the base of the internal walls picked and re-plastered, dug up the surrounding tar, on discovering that drainage around the church was non-existent, to make good the deficiency, and planned the resurfacing of the walks.

He decided to have the seats cleaned down and re-varnished, the mosaic washed down, the church interior repainted and new external doors installed, the electrical wiring and light fittings renewed, and carpet laid throughout the church.

With Tom Ball he was building a low curtain wall to tidy up the edge of the graveyard near the church. Tragically he was not to see his plans come to fruition. On 12 April 1988 he was killed in a car crash on the way to visit sick parishioners in hospital, and it was left to others, particularly Patrick J. mcGrellis who best knew his mind, to complete the renovation. Because the drainage problems had necessitated the lowering of levels around the church it was necessary to construct steps with a granolithic finish to the main doors.

He has indeed left a monument “more lasting than bronze”. To most people he will be the absent host of the centenary celebrations.


More Historical Inforation


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PARISH OF BANAGHER, 42 Glenedra Road, Feeny, Dungiven, Co Derry BT47 4TW | Tel: 028 - 7778 1223