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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 

2024 Calendar

           For the third successive year, Williamstown Heritage Society is joining forces with Williamstown Tidy Towns to produce a local calendar. Following the great successes of the 2022 and 2023 calendars, it looks as if it will be a similar story this time. A nice collection of local photographs has been assembled and much of the preparatory work on the project has been completed. In addition, the response to our requests for sponsorship from local businesses and groups has been extremely positive, and our warm thanks go to all of them for their support. It is expected that the 2024 Calendars will be available by mid November.

Heritage Grant

           We have been awarded a Cultural Development - Heritage Grant of €450 from Galway County Council towards the cost of a Portable Amplifier. This will be of great benefit to us at our future activities and events, and we express our gratitude to Galway County Council for their assistance in this matter.

Our National Award 

Now that the enormity of our achievement in being awarded the National Heritage Award for the Development of Templetogher Heritage Area when the results of the National Tidy Tidy Towns Competition were announced recently, has started to sink in, we can look forward to the presentation of the Award, which will take place, most appropriately, at Templetogher. The date for the event will be agreed jointly by Galway County Council, the Heritage Council and ourselves, and it is expected to be held very soon. There is, naturally, great excitement and a strong feeling of pride throughout the entire community on being selected for this prestigious National Award.
This Award makes the huge effort which has gone into this project for the past twenty years very much worthwhile. It is always a source of quiet satisfaction when one’s efforts are recognised by others, and particularly, when the recognition comes in such a well known, nationwide competition. All are invited to the Presentation/Celebration Day, including all our members, all those in our community and all in our neighbouring communities also, all of whom have been so supportive of our efforts over the years. Once the date becomes known, it will be announced.
You can also check on all the society’s  activities on our Facebook page - www.facebook.com/heritagewilliamstown.

Our Annual Heritage Tour

       Our Heritage Tour on Saturday last was another outstanding success, as it again proved to be a most enjoyable and interesting day. The weather was beautiful and everything ran on time. Between the pre-ordered snack in Mac’s Shack, (Kenagh), the visit to Corlea Trackway, the stopover at Casey’s Bogwood Sculptures and our pre-ordered meal in Gleesons, Roscommon, there was so much to enjoy. 
Kevin Casey has a superb display of Bogwood sculptures in his showroom. It is easy to see why he sells pieces to celebrities and dignitaries all over the world. 
The Ancient Roadway at Corlea is brilliantly presented also. The visitor centre is excellent and actually seeing the ancient roadway was very special. 
The day was a most fitting occasion through which we engaged in Stage One of the Celebrations to mark our recent winning of the National Heritage Award under the Tidy Town competition. 



                          International Webinar on Michael McGovern

   A special online conference on Michael McGovern was broadcast on Youtube on Saturday, March 13. McGovern, who was born in Castlefield in this parish in 1847, went on to achieve great fame as “The Puddler Poet” in the US in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The main speakers were Jim Fahy and Leo Finnegan (Williamstown Heritage Society), while leading members of the AOH in the U.S., including its National President, Danny O’Connell, and National Historian, Daniel Taylor, were also involved in the discussion. McGovern was a prominent member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in Youngstown, Ohio where he spent most of his adult life. Members of Williamstown Heritage Society and the former RTE broadcaster, Jim Fahy, have been researching McGovern’s life and times, and are working on a biography of the once famous poet.The video link was transmitted live around the world on the Youtube Network, and at the end of the discussion, there was a facility for taking questions. 
In addition to bringing the unique story of Michael McGovern to a much wider audience, it was also lovely to meet, face to face, (though on the other side of the Atlantic), a number of those people who have helped us so much with our research. The  feedback received from so many people following the webinar continues to be very positive and is greatly appreciated, and warm thanks to all of you who contributed to this. For those who did not have the opportunity to see the webinar, it is still available on Youtube with the same link as before, which is https://youtu.be/Qu8PeZ9Tm50. Even without the link, if you key in Michael McGovern on Youtube, the webinar will come up.


  Talk on Fr. Michael O’Flanagan

   In recent times, Williamstown Heritage Society has established an informal link with the Suck Valley Way organisation, in order to promote tourism in the communities along the Roscommon-Galway border. As part of this effort, the West Galway T.D., Eamon O Cuiv gave a very interesting and informative talk on the life and times of Fr. Michael O’Flanagan, the well-known Ballintubber born priest on St. Patrick’s Day at 7pm. Fr. O’Flanagan was born in Cloonfower in 1876, and he had an extraordinary career as an Irish scholar, inventor, republican leader and socialist, who had a major role in the Irish struggle for independence between 1914 and 1923. He was a fluent Irish speaker, and he spent several years in the US promoting Irish industry. He was an excellent orator, as a result of which he was in great demand as a valued speaker.  
Mr. O Cuiv’s talk was part of an event highlighting the tourism and enterprise of this region. The main organiser, Cllr Tony Waldron, says the virtual event was a celebration of the many tourist attractions along the Suck Valley Way, and local points of interest in the various parishes were featured on the day. The talk coincided with input from various communities and highlighted facilities throughout the region and along the Suck Valley Way. The talk can still be seen on the Suck Valley Way website and also on the Facebook page of the Suck Valley Way at www.facebook.com/suckvalleyway.


Mr. Paddy Forde, Moneen

                 There was much sadness and sorrow throughout our community as news spread recently of the death of Paddy Forde, Moneen. Paddy was a very well-known and highly-respected personality, not just in our own community, but also in several of our neighbouring communities, and, indeed, much further afield. Though not enjoying robust health for some time, his comparatively sudden passing caused much shock in the locality.
Tall and well-built in stature, Paddy’s natural strength enabled him to carry out his many farming activities efficiently and successfully. He and Lena raised three sons and two daughters, all of whom meant so much to them. With the passing of the years, as various members of the family settled down and the grandchildren arrived, Paddy and Lena continued their wonderful relationship with all of them. They enjoyed the regular visits by their family members and grandchildren to the family home in Moneen, while Paddy and Lena also made frequent trips to the various homes of their family members. Faith was a very important aspect of the lives of Paddy and Lena, and they regularly attended Mass and the Sacraments, so much so that one particular seat in the church was always associated with them.
Paddy, who was friendly and kind by nature, could enjoy any and every occasion, big or small, and was always ready to join in with whatever activity was taking place, whether singing a verse of a song, telling a story or reciting a poem. He and Lena loved going on trips, even long-haul ones, in addition to those already mentioned. Among these, they went in the 1980s on a fundraising trip to the USA, organised by the local GAA Club, and in 2007, they went on a parish trip to Rome, one of the activities organised to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the opening of St. Therese’s Church, Williamstown. They regularly went to various locations around Ireland on outings, organised by the local Heritage Society, an organisation which became a huge part of Paddy’s life.
Unfortunately, sadness came into their lives when illness struck Lena at a comparatively young age. She battled it bravely and tolerantly for as long as she could, and when she died, Paddy’s life was never the same again. Though missing Lena very much and visiting her grave every single day, Paddy still continued to live an active life. Over the years, he was involved with various organisations, but especially with the local Heritage Society. He was a dependable, hard-working and very generous member from the foundation of the Society in 2000, and in recent years, he held the position of President of the Society. He performed various ceremonial tasks for the Society, including, along with his neighbour and friend, the late Sara Agnes Lennon, Derryvode, the unveiling of the Memorial at Templetogher in 2013 in memory of all those who had contributed towards the purchase of Templetogher Mill, and then, in 2016, the unveiling of the upgraded 1916 Monument at Williamstown Church.
In recent years, Paddy has been battling illness intermittently, and had numerous spells in hospital. He continued to bounce back each time, and was quite content in his own home where he was so well cared for by Patricia and by other family members. It was thought that his most recent stay in hospital was just another routine one, but, sadly, this was not to be. Paddy will be greatly missed, not just by the members of his own family, immediate and extended, but also by all his great friends and colleagues in Williamstown Heritage Society, and by a great many people everywhere, who knew, respected and loved Paddy Forde.
We extend sincere sympathy to his daughters Patricia and Maura, sons Michael, John and Chris, and their various spouses, grandchildren, sisters Delia and Alice, sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews, relatives and friends. Ar Dheis Dé go raibh sé.   







Lynda Collier 

  All of us in Williamstown Heritage Society are extremely saddened at the death, after a very short illness, of Lynda Collier, our much-loved member of many years. She and her husband, Steve Pilgrim have been outstanding and hard-working members of our society since joining us some years ago, and her sudden passing is a great shock to all of us. From the moment they joined us, they immediately bonded with all of us and were more than colleagues, they were very dear friends. Lynda had many outstanding characteristics, and among those which immediately come to mind are her unfailing good humour, her infectious enthusiasm, her constant willingness to help, and above all, her loving, gentle, caring manner towards everyone. Though never robustly strong, she enjoyed every minute of her life, especially with her beloved Steve, and also in all company, because that is the kind of person she was. She always remained young at heart, and continued to maintain her interest in music, films, television, reading, community activities and so much more. Her passing is a massive loss, not just to her beloved Steve, but also to all of us in Williamstown Heritage Society, and to all the many people who had the privilege of knowing her. We extend our sincere sympathy to Steve and to all of Lynda’s loved ones.

(See the tribute to Lynda on our Facebook page)                     
Ar Dheis Dé go raibh sí.




Annual Heritage Dance

             Our Annual Fundraising Dance in aid of Williamstown Heritage Society, was held as one in the series of Della’s Benefit Tea Dances, in the Ard-Rí House Hotel, Tuam on Sunday last, November 24. The event was an outstanding success in every way, with a huge crowd in attendance, excellent music served up by Just Two, and a wonderful party atmosphere present all through. 
 Warm thanks go to all those who helped towards the success of the function, including our own members who sold a great amount of tickets over the past few weeks,  those who purchased tickets, those who attended on the day and those who generously donated raffle prizes. A special thank you to Della and her team for their great co-operation and help, as a result of which our task was relatively easy. Thanks also to the Rural Transport Initiative for making a bus available, free of charge, to transport some of our patrons to the dance. 
Go raibh míle maith agaibh go léir. 



Heritage Tour
A group of 20 of us went on this year’s Heritage Tour, organised as always by Williamstown Heritage Society, on Saturday last, October 12. Our first call was to Rathcroghan Visitor Centre, Tulsk, Co. Roscommon where we all enjoyed a pre-ordered breakfast in the adjoining Táin Cafe. Then we were given an excellent guided tour of the very impressive Heritage Centre by our guide, Daniel. The huge amount of history and heritage in the locality was made so obvious to all of us. The day was bright but cool, so we were then able to go by bus to our field trip at Rathcroghan Mound, again led by Daniel. He gave us additional information here before bringing some of us up to the top of the mound, from where we could see where several other historic sites in the area  were located.  
       We continued on then to the Arigna Mining Experience and again partook of the very welcome refreshments in the restaurant there. We then got our guided tour of the old coal mines, and this was another fascinating experience. Gerry, our guide, is an ex-miner, so he was able to give us first hand, with suitable witty anecdotes, all the details of the mining process, the working conditions of the miners, and the implements and aids used. It was so enlightening to be in the actual mine, and see close up how the miners carried out their daily work.
After a short period of relaxation, we returned to Tulsk where in the Friary Restaurant, we enjoyed a delicious dinner, which again was pre-ordered. Following this most enjoyable meal, we made the final leg of the journey home to Williamstown. There was unanimous agreement among our group that, in terms of enjoyment and experiences, the day was on a par with the other great Heritage Trips which we have had in the past
Warm thanks to all those who came along and made the occasion into such an enjoyable one, not forgetting our reliable bus driver, Bosco Smyth.


Heritage Night in the Parish Hall

                Saturday night, September 8, 2018 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.


   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.