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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 on Thursday last, September 13, a week earlier than usual, was again very well attended. Among the maters addressed on a full agenda were – a review of our very successful Heritage Weekend, the Mills and Millers Calendar 2019 with which we will again be involved, out forthcoming Heritage Trip on Saturday, October 6, and our Annual Fundraising Dance on Sunday, October 28 in the Ard-Rí House Hotel, Tuam.
               We extend our sympathy to the family, relatives and friends of the late Bridie Flanagan, Galway, wife of the late Tom Flanagan, (formerly Farm).

 
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.


DVD of Heritage Weekend

       The entire Heritage Weekend programme was recorded on video, and our thanks to Luke and Fiona Mannion for facilitating us in this regard. The DVD of the weekend will be on sale relatively soon, and because of the enormously positive reaction to the events of the weekend, there will be a huge demand for copies of these DVDs. We will let you know full details as soon as they are available, but we are already aware of the fact that copies of the DVD will be making their way, not just to all parts of Ireland, but to the U.K. to the U.S, and even to Australia. We have ascertained that the DVD will be compatible to the disc-playing devices in those countries.

 Membership of Heritage Society 

                     Most of our members have renewed their membership for the current year. All others, including those who may not be in a position to attend our meetings, who would like to renew membership for €20, may do so by contacting any member of the society. New members would also be very welcome at any time.


Annual Heritage Trip
        There will be a Heritage Trip for our members and for all others who may be interested coming up in a few weeks time. The date is Saturday, October 6 and the main attraction of the day is a visit to the superb Cavan County Museum in Ballyjamesduff. If any of those considering travelling have mobility issues, there is a lift to all the floors in this museum. Before that, there will be a visit to Glenview Folk Museum in Ballinamore, Co. Leitrim. There will also be the customary food stops on both the outward and return journeys. The cost per person of €25 covers the entrance fee to both attractions as well as the coach fare. The response so far is encouraging, so to secure your seat, you should contact Leo at 086 1603043 or finneganleo100@gmail.com as soon as possible. Like all of our previous trips, it promises to be very special.

 

 
  

Galway Bay FM in Williamstown

       There was much excitement in the locality on Tuesday, August 21 when The Galway Bay FM Roadshow chose Williamstown as the first of the five venues being visited in this series. From 9 am to 12 noon, Ollie Turner was the presenter and Kevin Dwyer was the floor manager of the programme which was broadcast from the Parish Hall. It was a hectic and action – packed three hours, with a huge number of local people being involved. These included several local business people, members of various local voluntary organisations and local musicians and singers. All of those who contributed to the programme acquitted themselves very well, and it is fair comment to say that the message being sent over the airwaves was that, despite the difficulties being encountered by rural Ireland at present, we have here in Williamstown a vibrant, dynamic community with so much to offer, in terms of business, voluntary activities, leisure activities, sporting activities, a wide range of talented performers and so much more. Large numbers of people, other than those directly involved, also attended on the day and added greatly to a wonderful atmosphere. It is no surprise to find that the feedback to the programme has been overwhelming positive.
        Following the programme, the throng of people then moved to the Carrenderry Bog Road for its official opening. The road has recently been re-surfaced and also fitted with a huge range of top-class exercise machines, with all of these excellent facilities being widely used by the public, not just from the immediate locality but from much further afield. The blessing of the facilities was performed by Fr. Paddy Mooney, P.P., and the tape was cut, to great applause, by longterm community stalwart, Sean Mulryan. Excellent refreshments were served up in the Parish Hall, all through the radio programme, and again following the opening of the Bog Road when many of those attending returned to the Parish Hall.
         It was yet another unforgettable occasion in our community, and, no doubt, it will live long in the memories of the local people. Well done to all those from the locality who participated and also to Galway Bay FM and their personnel for doing a first-class job. We say an extra well done to those who organised the event, the two local organisations who were directly involved being Williamstown Development Company and Williamstown Tidy Towns. Noel Finnegan, Chairman of the latter, played a huge role in the preparation as did his colleagues, while in the Development Company, Noel Tarmey, Chairman and Oliver Lennon, Treasurer, and their colleagues did trojan work also, while the latter two eloquently and suitably thanked all those who supported, not just the events of the day, but so many worthwhile projects over the years. Rath Dé oraibh go léir.

 
     
More Welcome Visitors to Templetogher   
           Not surprisingly, visitors call to Templetogher on a regular basis, and on Sunday last, the visitors included a large group from the USA who are on a nationwide coach tour, and on a fairly tight schedule. They were led by a great friend of our society, Bill Kearns, New York, who was accompanied by his immediate and extended family members. They were greeted on arrival by members of our society, were informed about the history of the area, and were then given a guided tour of the various sections of this Heritage Area by two of our stalwarts, Lar Finnegan and Jim Finnegan. All of them enjoyed their visit thoroughly, and were loud in their praise of all the developments carried out there over the last 18 years. Several of them intend to spend more time here on their next visit.
           Bill's ancestors come from our parish, and though he has made much progress in establishing his line of ancestry, including the fact that his greatgrandparents were John Kearns, Williamstown and Margaret Quinn, Polredmond, he still has some gaps to fill. If anyone has any information on this matter, any member of the heritage society would love to hear from you.
            It was a lovely occasion, with the warmth and appreciation shown by the visitors being matched by the hospitality of the hosts. We wish the visitors continuing enjoyment for the remainder of their Irish holiday.
        
                      
                                                             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
 
                               
              
 
           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.
           
 
 
                 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.