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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 for constructing such an attractive and professional website.
Current Activities  


      In light of the current situation with regard to the Coronavirus, there will be no meetings of our society until further notice. We wish good health to all our members, to all in the community and to everyone everywhere. All are asked to follow the most recent Guidelines issued by the Relevant Authorities with regard to the Coronavirus.
 As we ordinary citizens continue to do our best in following the Guidelines advised by the Relevant Authorities with regard to Covid-19, it is so reassuring to witness, day after day, the wonderful competence and professionalism of those in positions of authority dealing with this unique situation, and to know that we are in the safest of safe hands. The positive reaction from the world media in relation to our country’s response to the pandemic is a source of quiet pride for all of us.
           It is, again, so uplifting to see the utter dedication and heroism of the health workers in the front line of this challenge, as they perform their invaluable work away above and beyond the call of duty. Equally, it is heartwarming to see the spirit and selflessness of the thousands upon thousands of health workers who are returning from abroad, out of retirement etc to join in the fight against the virus. It was most appropriate that the entire country showed its great appreciation for the efforts of our front line workers in a wonderful manner at 8pm on Thursday, March 26 with a nationwide round of applause. With each passing day, the sense of pride that we all have in our health workers, and in all categories of front line workers involved in this massive effort, just grows and grows.
As always, times of adversity tend to bring out the very best in people, and this is evident again, in our own community as in all other communities. We commend, among others, our local GAA Club for taking on the initiative of responding to any call for help from the elderly, the vulnerable, the isolated etc, for the careful and safe delivery of essential food, fuel etc. The local service providers are really stepping up to the mark also, including the food stores. Just as all our neighbouring communities are being well served by their local shops, so, too, in our community, Martin Smyth and his Daybreak staff have been brilliant in meeting the needs of those whose movement is restricted in the current situation.
        The countless community initiatives that have sprung up all over the country, and the tremendously generous response to all of these, show that, as a people, our traditional characteristics are as strong as ever. Long may this continue.
Very importantly, we can all continue to take quiet pride in the exemplary manner in which the vast majority are responding to the Guidelines which we are advised to follow. As these unprecedented times continue, there is the danger that complacency may set in, and that we will relax in our efforts to follow the guidelines. We all know that this is a situation that we must avoid, so that we can continue to say that, as a community and as a people, we have played our part. The latest restrictions, which came into effect on Saturday, may limit our movements even more, but this is a very small price which is well worth paying for the greater good. Keep safe and well, everyone.
We extend our sincere sympathy to the family, relatives and friends of all those  in our country who have died due to the coronavirus, with a special mention going to the family of any late health worker included in the above.
      Naturally, the only tasks being undertaken currently by our members are home-based, involving continuing research on our relevant, ongoing  projects. The current situation means that there is more time to piece together the few remaining sections in the life of Michael McGovern, the Castlefield-born poet, with significant discoveries having been made in this area recently.
On Friday last, in Darlington, Yorkshire, England, her loved ones said an earthly farewell to Mrs. Pilgrim, the mother of one of our staunchest members, Steve Pilgrim, who, just a week previously, said the same farewell to his beloved wife, Lynda Collier, another of our staunchest members, who is so greatly missed by all of us. We, once again, send our warmest condolences to Steve and to all the members of the Pilgrim family on their second sad bereavement in such a short space of time. We look forward to welcoming Steve back into our ranks when the general situation allows.  Ar Dheis Dé go raibh a mháthair.



   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.


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.