Recalling the Liturgical Festivals of Yesteryear with Jimmy Reddiough

 In Feature

On the Western People pages of the 7th June 1958 there is a short piece with the head line 500 Children Take Part in Big Display.  The event or display was the Foxford Liturgical Festival when children from all the schools of the Deanery of Foxford in the Diocese of Achonry took part in a High Mass and singing in St. Michael’s Church Foxford and people recall that Canon James Shryane the parish priest of Foxford and former priest in Bonniconlon was most kind to them and he treated them to a meal and they saw a film in the Brown Memorial hall afterwards. They remember the Madeira cake and lovely treats that the beloved Canon had for them. There are photographs of the classes from the different schools also.

The Western People tells us that Five Hundred children representing choirs from the Deanery of Foxford took part in the annual Liturgical festival which was held in Foxford Parish Church on Tuesday Morning. From this area the schools of Attymass and Bonniconlon were represented there were four small schools in the parish of Bonnicolon at that time and there were three to four in Attymass also, this shows you what the population was like in this area of north Mayo at the time.

The teacher in Bofield at the time was one James Brennan or Master Brennan as they called him and he had taken the classes to a tour of Ballaghdereen the previous year and onto the School at Banada in Co. Sligo. After they left Foxford they went to Pontoon that beautiful scenic part of north mayo between Lough Cullin and Lough Conn. This all took place on the whit weekend of the 3rd June 1958.

The paper tells us that the festival was organised by Rev. M.J. McLoughlin the CC of Foxford and the massed choirs were conducted by Very Rev JM Higgins of Toulestrane with Maura Deasy at the organ. The paper also tells us that the proper of the mass was sung by the Foxford parish choir. James Canon Shryane was among the singers in the choir along with other members of the clergy from the Deanery. Fr. Higgins addressed the children afterwards and thanked and complimented them for their singing. The chief celebrant of the mass was Fr. Gerard Hannan the then parish priest of Attymass.

People recall these days with fondness and remember that they saw Healy’s Hotel Pontoon and also got sweets in a local shop to round off the day. Some of the pupils said that the scenery was lovely and the rhododendrons were in bloom in the summer sun.

Another day they recall with some nostalgia was the June day in 1957 when they went to the Liturgical festival in Ballghdereen for the Dioceses of Achonry. This was held on the 13th June 1957 and the event was reported on in the Western People of

the 15th June 1957. Bofield school pupils were among the 1,000 children from around the Diocese who sang at the mass and the procession was lead from St. Mary’s hall to the Cathedral by St. John’s Monastery Band and the High Mass and the proper of the mass was celebrated and sang by a number of Clergy from around the diocese the mass of the Blessed sacrament.

These liturgical festivals were common in the nineteenth and well into the twentieth centuries and are recalled by people who were in national school at that time.

On a personal note one person recalled going to the orphanage at Banada in Co. Sligo after the festival in Ballaghdereen. Also this writer used to go on the pilgrimage bus to Knock when there were few cars in the early 1970’s and one day we saw swans on the lake a most beautiful and sacred sight to set the scene and mood for the day ahead.



Written by James Reddiough (Copyright 2017)

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