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Our Website
    As a very special event to mark National Heritage Week 2010, we launched this website.  Means of communications are changing very rapidly in the 21st century and we must keep in line with those changes.  We invite you to visit this site on a regular basis and keep up to date with the activities of our society.  Our warm thanks to Fergal Donlon at www.glicnet.com for constructing such an attractive and professional website.
 
 
Current Activities    
               
            There was a very large attendance at our monthly meeting in the Parish Hall on Thursday last, December 13. As is now traditional for the final meeting of the year, it was a very informal occasion, with the main items on the agenda being - a relaxing chat, an enjoyable helping of tea and home cooking, and the traditional singsong. After another successful and busy year, we took a break for one night from the various projects which we have under way and entered the festive season in the right spirit. The delicious food on offer went down a treat and the enthusiastic singsong went on for some considerable time.         
           Though there was no formal agenda, the members were brought up to date on recent developments, including sales of Books, DVDs and Calendars, continuing progress on the Thatching project, ongoing work on the Michael McGovern research, and the very positive feedback from the recent meeting of the Ireland Reaching Out Organisation in Moneygall, attended by some of our members.
              Though our community, like so many other similar communities, has seen many changes as regards local business in recent decades, it is good to see that the spirit of this lovely season remains as strong as ever in our locality. The impressive, tasteful displays of Christmas lighting and imagery, including those in and outside the parish church and on the town square, add greatly to the atmosphere of this special time.            
         
                We extend every good wish for a Happy Christmas and a Healthy, Peaceful New Year to all our members, associate members, supporters, parishioners at home and away, and to all readers everywhere. Rath Dé oraibh go léir.   
     

               


Heritage Weekend DVDs

The DVD of Williamstown Heritage Weekend (2 discs) is now available at €15 from Fiona (09496 43414/086 8125411) or Leo (086 1603043/finneganleo100@gmail.com). Disc One features A Night of Storytelling (about emigration and reconnection where the descendants of a number of local emigrant families succeeded in tracing their roots, perhaps several generations later). Disc Two features the story of Michael McGovern, the poet from Castlefield, Williamstown (with a huge input by Jim Fahy RTE) and also the Open Day at Templetogher Mill. 

Mills and Millers Calendar 2019

           The Mills and Millers of Ireland Calendar for 2019 is now available. As in previous years, it is a most professional production and represents great value at €7. What makes it particularly attractive for people in this locality, is the fact that one of the excellent photographs included in it, is a somewhat different but most engaging shot of Templetogher Mill. Going by our experience in previous years, the calendars are bound to be in great demand. You can book your copy of the calendar by contacting Leo (086 1603043)/finneganleo100@gmail.com as soon as possible.

Annual Fundraising Dance

            The main fundraising event of the year by Williamstown Heritage Society was, as ever, our Afternoon Teadance in the Ard-Rí House Hotel, Tuam, as one of Della’s Social dances. The date this year was Sunday last, October 28 from 3 pm to 6 pm, with music being provided by the excellent group called Harmony, who filled in at short notice, when our scheduled band Tommy Flaherty and Francis Fahy had to cancel due to a family illness.
         The dance was an outstanding success in every way. This event has always been very well supported and this year’s function was no exception. The response to our ticket-selling efforts was generous in the extreme, as a result of which the financial success of the venture was assured. As regards the dance itself, there was a huge attendance present and, as ever, it was a most enjoyable occasion with a very special atmosphere. Our warmest thanks go to our members who, again, took on, with such great success, the task of selling the tickets; to those who purchased tickets but weren’t in a position to attend; to those who were present on the day and who contributed greatly to the enjoyment of the occasion; to those who generously donated prizes for the raffle on the dayto the Rural Transport Initiative who once again laid on a free bus to the dance from Williamstown for our patrons: and, most importantly, to Della and her team, whose huge amount of background work, as usual, meant that we had very little to do apart from selling the tickets. Go raibh mile maith agaibh go léir.



 
Heritage Night in the Parish Hall

                Saturday night, September 8 in the Parish Hall was another of the great occasions in our community, and without a doubt, it will live long in the memory of all those who were present. The nationwide theme for National Heritage Week this year was “Sharing Stories – Making a Connection”, and our programme was very much in line with this theme. In the first part of the programme, we had seven emigration – based stories from our own locality, in which, against all the odds, family members succeeded in re-connecting with each other, in some cases after several generations.  These unique and almost unbelievable stories, each one being assisted by a Powerpoint programme, received a great hearing from a full house on Saturday. To say they are fascinating stories is putting it mildly. Each story was linked to a relevant song, performed by a number of local singers.
           Then, in the second part of the programe, we had the remarkable story of Michael McGovern, from Castlefield in our parish, who became a household name as a labour poet in the USA in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Jim Fahy, the well-known RTE journalist, who has helped us immensely with our research on Michael McGovern, and Leo Finnegan jointly presented this story, again with the assistance of a Powerpoint programme. This item also went down a treat with the large and most appreciative audience, all of whom were amazed to learn about the great achievements of the man who liked to be known as “The Puddler Poet”. Again, relevant songs linked to the story were sung and a number of his poems were recited, some of them by McGovern’s own descendants, which added a lovely touch. The beautiful selections of traditional music from Katie and Patrick Murray and the generous helpings of home-cooked food rounded off a most memorable event. The deluge of instant, spontaneous, positive and very complimentary remarks from so many members of the audience on the entire programme showed clearly that they had just witnessed something very special. Needless to say, it was most encouraging for the organisers and participants to hear such warm and genuine acclaim.
             There was another very significant element to the night’s programme. We were delighted to have among the audience, and indeed, among the participants, people who, because of hearing difficulties, use Sign Language, and in what was, undoubtedly a landmark occasion, the entire programme of three and a half hours duration, was relayed in sign language at the same time. It was just wonderful to see this. By any standards, it was a most memorable evening.


Open Day at Templetogher Mill

             Then, on the following day, Sunday, September 9, for the second event of our Heritage Weekend, we had an Open Day at Templetogher Mill. This event was also an outstanding success, blessed with favourable weather conditions, and there was an excellent attendance. There was a huge display of old photographs, and these never lose their appeal, a large exhibition of old farm machinery and several other artefacts, and a continuous showing of heritage slides, with tea and refreshments served all afternoon. The mill, forge and miller’s cottage were all open to the public, and the milling process took place during the afternoon. It was lovely to see the mill wheel turning, and operating the various parts of the mill’s machinery on all three floors, one more time, and again the main man behind this process is Heritage Society stalwart, Lar Finnegan. What made this action most enjoyable for the large crowd present was the excellent description of the entire milling process given by another Heritage Society stalwart, Jim Finnegan. During the afternoon, there was more excellent traditional music from Patrick and Katie Murray, a number of songs were sung, and, yes, we even had some dancing on the roadway. It was another very special occasion, and hearing the warm comments by the many visitors on the day about the entire development in this unique area, was again very encouraging for the members of our Heritage Society.

 



Annual Heritage Trip
       The Annual Heritage Tour by members of Williamstown Heritage Society and their friends on Saturday last, October 6, was an outstanding success in every way. The popularity of the event over the years is reflected in the fact that, this time, we had, by far, the biggest number ever to travel. Following our departure from Williamstown at 8.30 am, we stopped for a superb, pre-ordered breakfast in Cryans’ Hotel, Carrick-on-Shannon.
      Then it was on to the Glenview Folk Museum, Ballinamore, Co. Leitrim where our host, Brian Kennedy, gave us a guided tour of the entire complex. The collection of items here, covering all aspects of our past, is so impressive that, after an excellent tour lasting one and a half hours, we felt we had only scratched the surface of all that was on offer.
Our next stop was the Cavan County Museum in Ballyjamesduff, which again was very impressive, and in total contrast to the Ballinamore venue. Our guide in Ballyjamesduff was Michael Finnegan, who gave us an overview of what was in the museum. In the outdoor section, there was a reconstruction of a World War One trench, a reconstruction of aspects of the 1916 Rising with both visual and sound effects and a huge façade of the GPO, and also a Peace Park. In the indoor section, there were three floors of exhibitions of various aspects of our past, including history, sport and music, all presented in a most professional manner.
       On our return journey, we called to Cryans’ Hotel in Carrick once more where we availed of a pre-ordered dinner, of which, without exception, all members of our group had the highest of praise. Following our group photo session in the hotel and the traditional sing-song on the journey home, our happy, though somewhat tired band of travellers arrived back in Williamstown just before 9 pm, with all having thoroughly enjoyed a very special occasion. The summer-like weather conditions, which prevailed all day, were an added bonus.
      Warm thanks to all those who travelled and made the day so enjoyabe, including not just our huge group of local people, but also friends from our neighbouring communities of Glenamaddy, Dunmore and Castlerea.


 
  AGM on January 18, 2018
 
            At our AGM on January 18, 2018, the following officers were elected for the coming year -  
                                        President : Paddy Forde
                                        Vice-President : Maureen Lyons
                                        Chairman : Leo Finnegan
                                        Vice-Chairman : Johnny Collins
                                        Joint Secretaries : Violet Walker, Kathleen Conneally
                                        Assistant Secretary : Eileen Finnegan
                                        Treasurer : Michael Gannon
                                        Assistant Treasurer : Michael Tarmey
                                        Delegate to Mills and Millers of Ireland : Steven Pilgrim
                                        PRO : Leo Finnegan
 
                               
               Local 1916 Commemmoration Event
All the hard work which our members, and our many colleagues who so willingly joined us for the occasion, put into the preparation for our Local 1916 Commemmoration Event, was more than worthwhile as the event was such an outstanding success on Saturday, April 23.
      Since the first part of the evening's programme was out of doors, we were fortunate that the weather was so favourable for the occasion. A great crowd assembled at 8 pm at the 1916 Monument beside the Parish Church for the unveiling of the new plaque on this monument. Leo Finnegan, Chairman of Williamstown Heritage Society, welcomed all to the event, outlined the background to the occasion, indicating that it was not just the 1916 Leaders that were being honoured, but also those involved, including the people in our own locality, in the subsequent struggle for independence. He referred to the great strides which our country has made in the past 100 years, but also mentioned the many problems which remain. Then, Paddy Forde, President of Williamstown Heritage Society, unveiled the new plaque on the monument to great enthusiasm from the large attendance. This was followed by the Reading of the Proclamation by Sean Finnegan. The attendance included a number of our Public representatives, Eugene Murphy, T. D., and Councillors Des Joyce, Peter Keaveney, Donagh Killilea and Pete Roche. In his capacity as County Mayor, Pete gave a short, meaningful address, in which he paid tribute to the local community for the above development, and during which he also made the very relevant point that it was people, not issues, that were being celebrated. The ceremony at the monument concluded with a blessing of the plaque and some words of encouragement from Fr. Paddy Mooney, P.P.
       Following this, all then moved to the Parish Hall where the celebrations continued. Once again, there was a great crowd in attendance which added very much to the celebrational atmosphere. All of the five Public Representatives mentioned above joined us yet again, in addition to some other very special invited guests. In the War of Independence 1919 - 1921, among the Volunteer Leaders very active in this locality were Paddy Dunleavy, Ballyglunin, Thomas Mannion, Brackloon, Dunmore, and Roger Rabbitte, Lissyconnor, Dunmore. We were thrilled that sons of those three men joined us for these celebrations, both at the Monument and in the Hall. In fact, it was the same Paddy Dunleavy who had unveiled the original Monument near the Church in 1966, so it was most fitting that his son, Dom Dunleavy was present, along with his wife Mary and other members of the family. It was also most appropriate that the son of Thomas Mannion, also Thomas Mannion, was in attendance with his wife Nollaig, and that Teddy Rabbitte, the son of Roger Rabbitte, was present with his wife Elizabeth and members of the family. We were also delighted to welcome Josephine Glennon, Ballinasloe (and formerly Polleagh North) and her niece, Maura Mulry, Loughrea, since members of the Glennon family, Polleagh North had been very active in the struggle also. The night's programme included the personal accounts of the three Volunteer Leaders mentioned above insofar as they related to our own locality, as in a similar fashion were the accounts of three other prominent Volunteer Leaders of the period, Martin Ryan, Kilsallagh, Ballymoe, Patrick Treacy, Kiltullagh, Glenamaddy, and Thomas Nohilly, Corofin. The seventh personal account was that of local activist and County Councillor for many years, Sean Glynn, Williamstown. On display on the night were personal memorabilia, including photographs and medals, of four of the above, Paddy Dunleavy, Thomas Mannion, Roger Rabbitte and Sean Glynn.
   The programme, which was in three distinctive parts, was an attractive and effective mix of the spoken word, songs, poems and music. Part One dealt with the People and Events of the period nationally, and in this, the parts of the seven signatories of the Proclamation and Countess Markiewicz were acted out by local people, all in full uniform. Part two dealt with the People and Events of the same period locally, with the Witness Statements of the six Volunteer Leaders mentioned above featuring very prominently here. Part Three also dealt with the local situation, but in a more informal way, with local stories from the period being told by various contributors, many of them descendants of the people in question, and it was in this section that Sean Glynn's account was featured. A rousing finale brought a most successful and enjoyable night's programme to a fitting conclusion. The manner in which the members of the audience joined in the singing of each song with such gusto all night long added significantly to the very special atmosphere.
     We extend our warmest thanks to all who helped towards the success of this great occasion. We include in this : all the members of our society, both those who were in action front of house and backstage, all those other participants who were more than willing to play their part, again on and off stage, all the other local people who generously shared their knowledge and stories of the period in question with us, and those who attended on the night, both at the Monument and in the Hall, for being such an attentive audience in both instances. A warm thank you also to our special guests, the Rabbittes, the Dunleavys, the Mannions and the Glennons as mentioned above, whose presence meant so much to us all. Thanks, too, to the Public Representatives, Eugene Murphy, Pete Roche, Donagh Killilea, Peter Keaveney and Des Joyce,  for joining us on the occasion. We say a special thank you to Pat Deane and EMP Furniture, Williamstown, for manufacturing and donating to us two beautiful speaker stands, which looked so well on the night. We are also very grateful to our local Credit Union for the free use of their most efficient sound system. Thanks, too to Maurice Sirr, Ballymoe for recording the occasion on video, to Eileen and Jimmy Flynn, Derreentigue, for looking after the catering, and to Paul Murphy, Glenamaddy for manufacturing the new plaque and for touching up the original lettering on the monument.
     The DVDs of the occasion are now available, as you can see above.
     Míle Buíochas daoibh go léir. 
 


 
Pat Patterson R.I.P.
        
Our community in general, and our society in particular, has lost one of its very special people with the untimely passing of Pat Patterson, Roscommon and Islands, Williamstown, one of nature's gentlemen.  Though in failing health for some time, he fought it with the quiet determination which was typical of him, so his passing still came as a great shock to all of us.  For one of such a quiet, gentle disposition, he touched the lives of so many people and impacted positively on all of them.  
       He had a long and distinguished career in the Public Service, initially in Dublin before moving with decentralisation to Roscommon.  He reached a high and responsible position in the General Registry Office where he was so highly regarded by all of his colleagues.
         He was a man of deep, quiet faith, to whom prayer, Mass and the Sacraments meant so much.  He became involved in church activities and, at the same time, he lived out his strong Christian values and beliefs every single day of an exemplary life. 
         His family and friends were very important to him and his warmth, wit and loyalty cemented his relationship with all of them.
         He made a huge contribution wherever he lived, in Dublin, Roscommon and Williamstown, joining various organisations and working efficiently for them.  His beloved Islands, needless to say, had a special place in his heart, and until his health failed, how much he enjoyed his regular visits there, to see and help care for his mother Kathleen until her death, his father Owen having died when Pat was only seven, and later, to keep in close touch with his brother Michael, enjoying thoroughly the help he gave him on the farm. 
           On his return to the West, in addition to becoming involved in activities in Roscommon, he also became very active in his native parish, joining and contributing hugely to a number of organisations including the Parish Council and, of huge significance for us, the Heritage Society.  With us, he made an outstanding contribution as a most efficient, dedicated and visionary secretary from our founding in 2000 until his death, and he was centrally involved in all the major achievements of the society during those years. 
           He was very close to nature and loved all species of flora and fauna, all of which was so obvious from his lifestyle and actions.  He was modest, unassuming and most unselfish, never wanted the limelight and avoided at all times imposing on anyone.  He was extremely appreciative of all that was done for him, including in a very special way, the wonderful care he got during his illness from his family members, friends and carers. He was tolerant, patient and accepting and complaining of his lot just wasn't Pat's way.
           Perhaps his greatest characteristic was his gentleness, and when the memory of some of his other wonderful traits has faded ever so slightly into the mists of time, the memory of his gentleness will endure.
            We extend sincere sympathy to his brother Michael, sister Mary Howard, brother-in-law Dermot, nieces Aideen and Stephanie, nephew Eoin, relatives and friends.
           Ar Dheis Dé go raibh do anam uasal a Phádraig, agus go gcumhdaigh Dia do chlann, do mhuintir agus do chairde.  Ní bheidh do leithéid ann arís.