Sisters of Mercy Contribution Recognised By Muckno Parish (Castleblayney and Oram), Co. Monaghan, Ireland
Blayney Blades Women’s Group were delighted to be part of the celebration of the work done by Sisters of Mercy in Castleblayney when, at a special Mass of Thanksgiving on Friday 22nd March, the Parish of Muckno, (Castleblayney and Oram), Co. Monaghan honoured the various contributions of the Sisters of Mercy to the life of the parish and wider community. Afterwards, the Bishop of Clogher, Most Rev. Larry Duffy, unveiled a specially designed commemorative plaque in St. Mary’s Church Castleblayney. The liturgy was followed by refreshments and short performances by the three convent schools in the Íontas Centre.
The chief-celebrant of the Mass was Canon Shane McCaughey PP, Castleblayney, who also preached the homily. The following is the text of the homily:
“Some of you may be familiar with the French Philosopher Paul Ricouer who died in 2005. He was a lecturer and writer of books and essays, the most recent of which was titled “Memory, History, Forgetting” published in 2004. In it he posed the question as to why do some historical moments occupy the forefront of our collective consciousness while other profound events are forgotten. Why does history “overly remember” some events at the expense of others?
‘He gives a number of illustrations of this. In the west everyone is conscious of the genocide of the Jewish people during the Second World War, known as the Holocaust while at the same time few recall the genocide of the Armenians decades earlier, also a holocaust.
Historians and commentators put their own perspective, their own slant on our history, he claims, often to the detriment of our wellbeing.
‘I believe we can today add another illustration to this revisionism in the way that the Catholic Church and particularly the religious orders in Ireland have had their record of dedicated service completely and comprehensively ignored to be replaced with a narrative that insists that all our religious orders should be demonised and totally condemned for the failings of individual members...'
Before the Rite of Blessing and the unveiling of the plaque, Bishop Duffy recalled his years in Castleblayney, during which he served as a chaplain to Our Lady’s Secondary School. He spoke glowingly of the vast contribution made by the Sisters to the people of the area and how their legacy is still evident today.
Following the unveiling, the Provincial Leader of the Sisters of Mercy in the Northern Province, Sr Ann Brady, addressed the gathering. She spoke of the hope which the first five sisters had when they arrived in Blayney in 1905 and how that hope, rooted in faith, manifested itself over the years and does so today in the life of the community.
She thanked the local committee, headed by John Gallen, which organised the event, Bishop Duffy for his presence and Canon McCaughey for his homily.
All of the different schools, St Marys Hospital, Íontas, the Blayney Blades and the Castleblayney Trust, were represented in the liturgy on Friday evening, making it another event of note in the long history of the Parish of Muckno.
The attendance also included many visiting priests, some of whom had served in Castleblayney. Special guests included Rev. Neale Phair, Church of Ireland Rector of Muckno, Clontibret and Ballybay (who will be leaving Castleblayney shortly to take up an appointment as Rector of Swords in Dublin); Diane Anderson, representing her husband Rev Colin Anderson of First Castleblayney Presbyterian Churches and Daphne Holmes Greer, Clerk of sessions.
The Sisters of Mercy came to Castleblayney from Enniskillen in September 1905. They immediately began their ministry in education and soon afterwards they established a girl’s national school and later, a secondary school at Laurel Hill in the town. The secondary school was to become Our Lady’s Secondary School in 1971 when it merged with St Marys Boys Secondary School on the Dublin Road.
Today, Our Lady’s Secondary School, the Convent Girls School and the Junior School continue to fulfil their mission in the tradition of the Sisters of Mercy.
In addition to education, the Sisters of Mercy also played an important part in the local town and parish through pastoral care and social work. While the convent itself closed in 2013, there is still a small community of sisters living at Laurel Hill in the town.