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July 23rd 2003

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Home Town Heroes

At a time when our young people are getting bad press, with almost daily reports of youthful drunkenness, vandalism and public order offences, there is a group of people who are trying their best to provide responsible leadership for our kids as an alternative to them being on the streets or in the pub. They go under various titles - manager, coach, group leader - but no matter what you call them the fact is, they provide an invaluable voluntary service - using their own time to supervise a wide range of activities for the youth put under their care, a function probably largely unappreciated by the parents who happily deposit their offspring at field, hall or community centre.
No need to name names, we all know them - whether it be community games, GAA, soccer, athletics, or whatever, these people sacrifice their own interests and pursuits to provide a community service and install basic disciplines and values in our young people. On any weekend you can see cars and mini-buses full of excited youngsters heading off to play a game, run a race, maybe just visit a cinema, go to an open farm or enjoy themselves at an adventure centre. The one thing all these activities have in common is that they are supervised by people who have given of their own time to look after them. These are the unsung heroes - and they don’t just appear in the sport and recreation sector - they are also to the fore in all sorts of voluntary positions from civic groupings to care for the sick and underprivileged. We owe these people a big debt and a salute for their dedication and sacrifice - it is time that the appreciation of our community was expressed.
But, on a lighter note, it is not just at home that the role of manager is unappreciated. It was enjoyable to read Sean Diffley’s article in a recent Irish Independent that shows the gaffers in a less flattering light. Part of his article: ‘Willie Pep, who was World Featherweight Champion years ago, put affairs into perspective “I had” he declared “the bravest manager in the world - he didn’t care who I fought.”
Vince Lombardi, coach to the Green Bay Packers, was once described thus by one of his players “He was very fair - he treated us all the same - like dogs.”
It was said of Ally Mc Leod, who once tried to manage the Scottish soccer team, that he believed tactics were a new kind of peppermint!
The famous Bill Shankley, legendary manager of Liverpool, was once reported to have brought his wife to watch Rochdale playing as an anniversary present. This he disputed, “It was actually her birthday and it wasn’t Rochdale - it was Rochdale Reserves.”
And we remember the loquacious Tommy Doherty, describing a fellow manager about whom he didn’t think much “Pick a team - he couldn’t pick his nose!”
But those boys were a different kettle of fish - well paid and pampered. Our men back home perform similar tasks - only difference - unpaid and under-resourced, they are basically taken for granted by a sizable segment of the community that they serve so well.

Theresa McDonald and Micheal Murphy were married on 21st June in Kilbeggan, Co Westmeath. Pictured is the groom (second from left) along with Seamus Campbell (Bestman), Shane Mc Cauley (Groomsman), Aidrian Gallagher (Groomsman). Indeed same Aidy later caught the garter and was so excited that he proceeded to do a Full Monty, much to the joy of young ladies present

Laghey Barr Residents to Fight Church Closure
Parishioners reserve right to worship locally

Take a trip up the Pettigo road. Just three miles from the village of Laghey, take a left turn and you will come across the unique little area of Laghey Barr. This community is cradled amongst the Hills of Donegal - the spiritual island of Lough Derg sited just five miles across the moors. The area also boasts it’s own mountain Chapel - where generations of residents have worshipped for the past 60 years. In times gone by, Laghey Barr also had it’s own national school - St. Colmcille’s - which unfortunately closed in 1969 - the children of the area transferring to St. Eunan’s, Laghey.
In recent days the community was dealt a further blow when it was announced by the Raphoe Diocese that Sunday Mass in their beloved ‘Mountain Chapel’ was to cease. A spokesman for the Diocese attributed this to a shortage of priests and the fact that there have been very few vocations in recent years. Prior to this announcement Sunday Mass was celebrated by priests from Ballintra or seconded from members of the Franciscan Friary, Rossnowlagh.
In the 1800’s Laghey Barr Chapel of Ease was a hedge school - becoming a national school from 1877. In 1946, the building was extended and dedicated as a chapel, blessed by the late Fr. Francis P. Gallagher who was home on holiday from Australia. In 1987, the chapel was completely refurbished and fitted with new altar and seating. Bishop Seamus Hegarty re-dedicated the building.
Now the congregation of Laghey Barr Church have been informed that there will be no further Sunday masses in the small chapel because the Fransciscan Friary in Rossnowlagh can no longer supply stand-in priests. The cancellation means that parishioners have to make a 12 mile round trip to attend mass in the other church of the parish. However local people say they will not accept this decision and the following press statement was released by a recently formed committee.
“In the light of the comments made by Fr. McBrearty, Fr. Adrian Peelo and the Bishop’s representative, we, on behalf of the Laghey Barr community, have decided to explain our position. Mass has been celebrated in Laghey Barr chapel since 1941 - except for a period of months during 1973. In that year, a decision was also taken to close Laghey Barr chapel and it was due to the determination of the people and the withdrawal of their weekly parish contributions, that the chapel was re-opened.
In the early 1950’s when St. Brigid’s Church, Ballintra, was being renovated, wedding masses were celebrated in Laghey Barr Chapel - a testament to the importance of this chapel within the parish.
On Sunday 8th June at 10.30am Mass in Laghey Barr, Fr. Adrian Peelo, Franciscan Guardian, Rossnowlagh, announced the cessation of Sunday Mass in Laghey Barr chapel. Following this announcement it was decided at a open meeting to elect a committee. It is the wish of the committee to explore all avenues through consultation with the church authorities, rather than inviting controversy by approaching the media. We are still attempting to pursue our objective through discussion with the clerical hierarchy. In particular we would ask them that the Parish Priest assigned to Drumholm, Ballintra, say two Sunday masses - one in Ballintra and one in Laghey Barr.
On Sunday 13th July, after four Sundays without mass, a mass, attended by 85 people, was celebrated in Laghey Barr chapel by both Fr. McBrearty and Fr. Adrian Peelo. This mass was immediately followed by an open meeting with both priests. Despite this, the general feeling of distress, hurt and perplexity has not abated.
We would like to stress the personal input we as a close knit community have put into our chapel down through the generations. We are determined, as we have proven in the past, that Laghey Barr chapel will remain at the heart of our community”. This ends the statement.

On Thursday 17th July, a letter was sent to Most Rev. Philip Boyce Bishop of Raphoe, requesting an urgent meeting with the Laghey Barr Chapel Committee. On Thursday 17th July the committee were contacted by RTE Radio 1 Derek Davis, inviting live air discussion - but this was declined, as members would prefer to have this problem resolved amicably through dialogue with church authorities. The committee has put forward a solution - the Parish Priest say one Mass in Ballintra and one Mass in Laghey Barr on Sunday mornings - at times convenient to him.
Since the cessation of Sunday Mass - every Thursday at 7.30pm the community comes together in the Chapel of Ease to recite the Rosary. The Laghey Barr Chapel Committee is still awaiting a reply from the Church authorities.
According to these authorities the situation will be reviewed in September - but the committee is sceptical about this. Said one member “If the church closes now it will not re-open - and we are determined that this will not happen.”

The Donegal Times, The Diamond, Donegal Town, Ireland

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