Tag Archives: Creeslough

Donegal Danders: Creeslough Church

St Michael’s Church Creeslough (Image Thesilvervoice)

I can well recall the total astonishment and indignation when the new Catholic Chapel was being built in Creeslough, County Donegal almost 50 years ago. For years after it opened whenever we drove past, my father would say – ”Just look at that! How can that be a chapel?” (We never actually referred to a Catholic ‘Church’ in this part of Donegal. The word ‘Church’ implied a different denomination, so we had ‘Chapels’) We knew what a real Chapel looked like and this new building was not remotely like anything we had seen before.

A ‘proper’ Chapel in my home parish : Church of St John the Baptish , Mevagh (Image Thesilvervoice)

Many churches constructed in Ireland after Catholic Emancipation in 1829 were imposing, cut stone buildings with high ceilings and sometimes even with soaring elegant steeples reaching heavenward. Frequently visible from a great distance, they were instantly recognizable – you just knew what you were looking at. The more modest church buildings without lofty steeples, at the very least ‘looked holy’. And so, when Doe Chapel was to be demolished and a new Chapel built in Creeslough there was some bemusement at the design of the new building.

The village of Creeslough is nestled under Muckish Mountain, a mountain that dominates this area and villages for miles around. This new building was to be in the image and likeness of the mountain. To add to the dismay, the name Muckish, or in Irish, ‘An Mhucais’, had the meaning of ‘pig like’ or ‘the back of a pig’. To say that there was a level of consternation in the local discourse would have indeed been an understatement.


Muckish or ‘An Mhucais’ on a hazy day (Image Thesilvervoice)

Church architecture has changed dramatically in the last half century and what looked strange to our eyes then, is quite acceptable nowadays. I have since learned that the Creeslough Chapel was designed by Liam McCormick, (1916 – 1986), who has been described by the Irish Heritage Council as “one of the most important church architects of his generation”. So while back in the area on holiday this year, I decided to take a closer look at this strange looking chapel, this ‘hulk of a building’.

St Michael’s, Muckish and the Presbetry (Image Thesilvervoice)

The Presbetery or ‘The Parochial House’ as we in Donegal would call it, was designed by the same architect, Liam McCormick. He was born in neighbouring Derry but had strong Donegal family connections. He had his early education in Greencastle and has many iconic buildings and churches to his credit, including several in Donegal and the headquarters of the Met Office in Glasnevin, Dublin.

St Michael’s Church Creeslough. (Image Thesilvervoice)

In the adjoining grounds, there is a very nice metal Cross, incorporating a Crown of Thorns – One of the few clues as to the purpose of the building! From this viewpoint too, approaching from the car park, there is a water feature to the side of the building with what resembles a primitive cross as a backdrop.

Near the door stands a chapel bell– I like to think that this is originally from the old chapel in Doe, although I could not make out either the date or the foundry on the bell. This bell may have been heard by generations of worshippers in the parish, ringing the Angelus, celebrating marriages or pealing in mourning .

The windows on the front of the St Michael’s Creeslough (Image Thesilvervoice)

A very interesting feature of the building is this group of 6 very small windows. Apparently McCormick drew inspiration for his design, not only from Muckish, but also from the many vernacular cottages in this part of Donegal, mostly whitewashed buildings with small windows.

The light bright semi circular interior. Note too the lovely colourful work on the altar, possibly also by Helen Moloney. (Image Thesilvervoice)

The true joy in this building is inside! The doors lead into a semi circular auditorium with large windows at one side framing a view of Muckish and filling it with natural light.

Inside looking out – or outside flowing in? (Image Thesilvervoice)

The colourful medal-shaped Stations of the Cross are unusual and sit well with the most spectacular stained glass windows I have seen in a long while. These are set into the 6 small windows and funnel vibrant light through the thick walls. They are the work of Helen Moloney (1926 – 2011) who worked with McCormick on a number of his churches. They have to be seen to be really appreciated.

Passing through the heavy doors on the way out, you just know you will be back to see this wonderful creation again, with its many exciting parts – a truly spiritual work of art! If you are passing, why not drop in?

*** It would be very nice to see the architects and artists credited in church sites such as this. This is a tourist attraction in itself, in the same way as the great cathedrals across the world, so what would be amiss about adding information about the design, the architect and artists whose work is here and having a donations receptacle for the upkeep of these great works of art on site?

Note: ‘Dander’ is an Ulster word meaning ‘wandering’ !

 

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Silver Surfer Awards 2013 with Google and Age Action

I was delighted to receive an invitation  for myself and a guest to the award ceremony for the Google Silver Surfer Awards with Age Action, which took place in Dublin  on Wednesday last. I was thrilled to be back in Google, with Louise, for the first time since I won the  Social Networking Award in 2011, and to meet again with the stalwarts of Age Action – Robin Webster, Eamon Timmins and Pauline Power.

Google  epitomizes everything that is young, innovative and fun. This is clear from the moment you step through the front door! All the more wonderful then that they sponsor the annual Silver Surfer Awards that celebrate older people and technology. A perfect marriage in many ways.

The ceremony took place in the spacious and comfortable state of the art Google auditorium. We were entertained by the talented Bugle Babes with their Andrews Sisters type repertoire and  harmonies, and their (perfectly straight) seamed stockings (George Hook checked them out).Their singing was beautiful and well enjoyed by everyone!

The ever young George Hook, broadcaster, journalist and rugby pundit hosted  the ceremony with great wit and humour, and Mr Pat Rabbitte, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources attended – both of whom are, appropriately enough, Seniors.  Minister Rabbitte expressed the wish that no senior citizen be left behind in this era of  instant communication.  Sinead Gibney, Social Action Manager with Google, and Robin Webster, the indefatigable Chief Executive of Age Action were also present. Sinead  treated us to a reading of the poem ‘When I am old’, which can be seen on my blog page here . Pauline Power who operates the Getting Started Programme with Age Action and Anne Marie Walsh, the Event Manager, ensured that things flowed smoothly.

And so to the fabulous people whose terrific achievements were to be honoured at these awards. There were several categories as follows:

New to IT Award
A person over the age of 50 who is new to technology and has overcome challenges to become an IT user

Finalists were:

Austin was the winner of this category. His story is inspirational – having left school early he had some catching up to do in later life and this he did using technology. He has written a biography for his family.

Hobbies on the Net Award was next with 5 finalists

An older person who uses the Internet to pursue their passion or hobby or who uses IT for communication and social networking

I was particularly interested in this category as my ears pricked up when I heard the name Seamus Harkin from Creeslough. Creeslough is 7 mile s from my home village of Carrigart, Co Donegal.  On an all-too-rare visit back to my roots this summer, we were in search of the site of  a former 19th Century  Revenue Barracks in Creeslough. We were given Seamus Harkin’s phone number. Seamus Harkin is all things Creeslough and is a highly respected fountain of all sorts of historical knowledge in this particular area   He was most helpful and accommodating. We spoke several times by phone, but I had not met him until today, so that was a particularly pleasant meeting!  Thanks again Seamus for sharing your knowledge  and time with us.

Seamus is known as the Singing Undertaker at home and he fixes fiddles  as a hobby- how interesting is that!  Well done on this achievement Seamus agus  Tír Chonaill Abú!

IT Tutor(s) of the year 

An individual or group of any age who provides voluntary support to older learners. Anne won this award for her work in upskilling some 40 tutors. Anne is from Louth and were other nominees – Drogheda & District Support 4 Older People.  Small county with big hearts for older people!

Golden IT Award
An individual over the age of 80 who uses technology to enhance their lives

 

I love the Golden category – here are people of advanced years who have engaged with what can be a challenging medium – perhaps they came to it after losing a life partner –  and here they have found a new way of doing things, new ways to keep in touch, and have enhanced their lives.  Michael was the winner this year. He has long been an advocate of technology and encourages older people especially to use it . Michael has a blog  The Commonplace Book that is worth a visit for the quotes alone!  The judges for all of these categories had a challenging task to pick just one from each of these categories as they are heroes all!

Google Silver Surfer Award

An older person who embraces the Internet or technology with a sense of fun and adventure.

The winner of this over arching award was David,  who has become something of a techie since his retirement and has indulged his passions for music and digital photography, and entertains his grandchildren with his technical expertise!  With Apologies to Maura and Fred for the blurred photographs. Michael in this category was an inspiration to all of us – he suffered a stroke but then used his experience to help others and technology is a perfect medium for him. Well done to you all!

This is an appropriate place to give a huge shout out for Age Action Ireland   This is a n Irish Charity that promotes positive ageing and  better policies and services for older people. Age Action is regularly in the news headlines speaking out about issues that affect all of us who are older and more vulnerable. Ageing is an issue that hopefully will affect all of us of every age.  Do drop in to their webpage  here to see the wonderful work that they do, – work that enhances the lives of thousands of people and of society as a whole.

At a delicious and beautifully presented  lunch afterwards ,entertainment was provided by the excellent  and splendidly named barbershop quartet, the Sea Sharps .

It was a great event and hearty congratulations again to all the finalists  – winners all!

As  we left the premises,I couldn’t resist taking a shot of the decoration in the washrooms.

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The very colourful landing  with floor, walls and ceiling covered with faces – after all that is what Google is all about –  people of ALL ages!

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Further biographical info  on the winners can be found here

Thank you Google, and thank you Age Action!

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October 6, 2013 · 1:15 pm