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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      

           Our monthly meeting is on this Thursday, December 14 at 8pm and will, as is now traditional, be a very informal athering over a cup of tea and some home cooking. Some of our ongoing projects will be referred to briefly, but the main focus of the meeting will be on relaxation. 
            We extend our sympathy to Michael and the Reilly family, Windyhill on the death in Manchester of Michael's nephew, Sean Reilly, son of the late John Reilly;  to Jo and the Cullinane family, Kilnalag on the death in Northampton of Jo's nephew, Joe Bailey (formerly Ballybane, Ballinlough); to Linda and the Connaughton family, Springfield on the death of Linda's mother, Eileen Gardiner, Kilkerrin; and to the family, relatives and friends of the late John Tobin, Coventry, nephew of the late Tommy Tobin, Farm. 
 
Mills and Millers Calendar 2018

The Mills and Millers 2018 Calendar, which features a beautiful local photograph and is again of the highest quality, is now available. At €5, it represents excellent value, and all those interested in a copy should contact Leo (086 2603043 or finneganleo100@gmail.com) without delay, as they will be in great demand. In fact, the original batch received is practically sold out, but as a new consignment has been ordered and is expected to arrive soon, we will be able to meet the demand.
           
  Famine Talk in Tuam by Leo

        Though much is known about The Great Famine of 1845-47, the little-known Famine of 1879/80, known as "An Gorta Beag", is seldom mentioned. Williamstown was one of the areas greatly affected by it. Leo Finnegan from Williamstown Heritage Society was invited to give the talk "1880 - A year of Great Hardship and Suffering for the People of Williamstown Parish" to the Old Tuam Society in Tuam Library on Thursday, February 23. 
        The hospitable welcome shown by the Tuam people to the group from Williamstown and the warm and enthusiastic reception from the very large attendance for Leo's talk, is gratly appreciated by those of us who travelled. Our two communities forged even stronger heritage links than before, and these will continue into the future.
           Also, as a result of the Tuam talk, a further number of copies of our book "Williamstown/Templetogher Parish - Our People and Landscape" were sold. Though it is now almost four years down the road since publication, the bok continues to sell. Just as remarkable is the fact that our Famine DVD from 2014 and our 1916 DVD from 2016 are both still  in demand also, with a number of copies of both being ordered this week.
           
 
 
AGM of Heritage Society

        Our first meeting of the New Year was held on Thursday, January 26. This was also our Annual General Meeting and there was an excellent attendance.
        In her Secretary's Report, Violet Walker dealt with all the major activities with which the Society was involved in 2016, including our local 1916 Commemmoration, the major refurbishment of the kitchen space at Templetogher Heritage Area, the planting of two Rowan trees and the positioning of two plaques at Templetogher in memory of two of our great servants who have gone to their Reward, Pat Patterson, Islands, our secretary and Mickie Kearns, Ballyroe, our president, and the ongoing work, including the thatching, being carried out on the miller's cottage there. She also covered some of our other activities such as our Annual Dance and our Annual Heritage Tour, both of which were very successful.
           In his Treasure's Report, Michael Gannon dealt in detal with all our many expenses as well as our incomes during the year and answered any relevant questions. He had the welcome news that our society remains very comfortably in the black despite all the developments.
           In his Chairman's Address, Leo Finnegan referred to the huge amount of work that went into our 1916 Commemmoration, not just by our own mmbers, but by several other volunteers also, but the great success of the event made it all worthwhile, and the DVD of the occasion sold very well. He also spoke of the importance of the tree planting and the plaque erecting in memory of Pat Patterson and Mickie Kearns. Among the other matters he referred to were the ongoing developments at Templetogher, both functional and traditional, our Annual Dance, our Annual Tour, the local Computer Course which followed as a result of that tour, and the Famine Talk in Lackagh which he was invited to give and to which he was acompanied by a large number from our own society. In a general way, he spoke of our many achievements over the past 17 years and of the strong legacy of heritage which we are leaving to future generations. He thanked all the members for the great work which they continue to do, all others who came to our assistance, especially with our 1916 Commemmoration, the public and the community at large for continuing to support our many undertakings, and the local press for their ongoing coverage of all our events. He sympathised with all who suffered bereavements during the year, he congratulated all who had happy events to celebrate during the year, and he wished continuing success to the society, to its members and to their families.
           Then the Election of Offixers for the coming year was held and the line-up for 2017 is as follows :
                 President - Paddy Forde
                 Vice-President - Maureen Lyons
                 Chairman - Leo Finnegan
                 Vice-Chairman - Johny Collins
                 Secretary - Violet Walker
                 Assistant Secretary - Eileen Finnegan
                 Treasurer - Michael Gannon
                 Assistant Treasurer - Michael Tarmey
                 Delegate to Mills and Millers of Ireland - Stephen Pilgrim
                 PRO - Leo Finnegan
The meeting then continued.
 
 
 
  Annual Heritage Tour
     One of the highlights of the year, the Annual Tour by members of Williamstown Heritage Society and their friends, took place on Saturday last, 10th September and all agreed that it rates as one of our best yet. A large crowd left Williamstown by coach at 8.30 am and our first stop was for breakfast in the Square Kitchen, Mountbellew. Then we visited the Battle of Aughrim Visitor Centre where the film shown was most impressive as were the various exhibits, while the complimentary tea/coffee and scones were much appreciated. We then made the short trip to Dartfield Horse Museum, Kilreekil, for another very enjoyable and informative experience. Seeing the various types of horses and the many artefacts associated with the equine industry was fascinating, as was the demonstration given by resident blacksmith, Stephen Quinn. Nor did we leave without sampling the lovely food on offer. Before leaving, we had the pleasure of meeting owner, Willie Leahy, returning on horseback with a large group of fellow riders. We continued to Athenry Castle where we were given an excellent guided tour of the the various floors in the beautifully restored castle. Our second last stop was Lackagh Museum/Heritage Centre and again, the welcome given to us here was second to none. In addition to viewing the great display of exhibits and the tastefully restored cottage, we were treated to yet more delicious home cooking. In addition to the local activists who greeted us, it was lovely to meet up with our former P.P. Fr. Des Walsh, who was delighted to see us. We then made the very short trip to Claregalway Museum/Forge where again we were afforded the warmest of welcomes.The forge and the recently developed museum were extremely interesting. We finished off the day with a lovely meal in the Ard-Rí House Hotel, Tuam, before completing the journey home to Williamstown. The day was thoroughly enjoyed by all who travelledand it was also a small source of pride that all the locations visited were within our own county.
  
 
 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.