Canon James Shryane of Achonry 1891 – 1960 by James Reddiough
Recently I saw a piece in this paper about the possible use of the parochial house in Foxford as a community facility to welcome people who had travelled long distances to masses. They would rest for a while and have a cup of tea and then return home.
This feature reminded me of when my mother went to Foxford for the liturgical festival when she was a pupil in Bofield School in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. the parish priest in Foxford at the time was one Canon James Shryane of Ballaghdereen and my mother remembers him fondly for his welcome, kindness during the visit and his words and wave of farewell and her last memory of him is seeing him stand beside the hedge biding them farewell and a few years later he had passed on and is buried in the cemetery in the grounds of the church.
Some days ago then when speaking with a friend he told me that when he was once in Collooney Co. Sligo this old lady asked him where he was from and when he replied Bonniconlon she asked if he knew of a Canon James Shryane and she then went onto tell him that he cured a person while he was in their parish in the 1940’s – he was a remarkable man she remarked. In Bonniconlon Fr. James Shryane was the stuff of legend in that he is said to have cured a number of people and placated if they were afflicted in mind. I went to visit his grave in Foxford some weeks back and there was a red candle placed over his grave stone.
Mother remembers that she went on a message to him once and he said that he could not call her Irene because it was not a saint’s name so when she told him that her other name was Margaret then he replied that that was the name he would call her. He was that type of man.
Canon James Shryane was born in Ballaghdereen in 1891 and he attended St. Nath’ys College Ballaghdereen from 1903 – 1908 and he was an excellent student. Dr. John Lyster recommended that he go to study for the priesthood in the Irish College at Salamanca Spain and he spent 6 years there until his ordination in St. Nathy’s Cathedral in 1914. For the first nine years of his ministry he was in Cornwall in the Dioceses of Plymouth until his return to Ireland in 1923 when he served as curate in Foxford from 1923 – 1925 and subsequently he served a curate in Banada, Gurteen, Mullaghroe and Collooney 1925 to 1951 until being appointed Parish Priest on Bonniconlon in 1951 and he became canon in 1956 whilst in Bonniconlon. He left there in 1958 and became parish priest of Foxford in 1958 and he was there until his death in June 1960.
He was fondly remembered by all who knew him and he loved the quietness of the countryside and book also. Fr. Shrayne was a saintly man who loved children and young people and they took him to their hearts in a very special way.
He served on the English missions from 1914 to 1923, then curate in Foxford from 1923 to 1925, 1931 to 1941 in Collooney and 1941 – 1951 in Gurteen parish.
It has been written of his time in Bonniconlon where he spent seven happy years for he loved the quiet country places and there he was in the midst of them. He won the hearts of the children and gained the confidence and attachment of the youth of the parish. Here it was that he showed in ta special way his priestly zeal and fatherly care for the spiritual interest of his flock. From this locality very many of the young men go to work in England and then return home. That they might be fortified against dangers which they were likely to meet he arranged with the bishop’s permission that they should have the benefit of a short spiritual retreat each time before they set out. Everywhere he was on the mission his heart went out in sympathy to the aged, the lonely and the sick.
I know for a fact from family history that he calmed my uncle John who suffered from a nervous complaint and he was never really troubled again. May his gentle soul rest in peace. He lays in repose in the Church cemetery in Foxford.