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A Church for Gilford

Fr. John Byrne was now in charge of the parish of Tullylish having become Parish Priest in 1849 after the death of Fr. Edmund Magennis.

In 1849 a site for a Parochial House was purchased beside the church in Laurencetown. The land was obtained from Samuel Law. The new presbytery was to replace the house previously occupied by the priests in Knocknagore, locally known as "The Priest's Hill." However, the most important acquisition of land was that portion containing 2 roods and 23 perches on Castle Hill which was to provide sites for a church and national school. This land was donated by Mr. Hugh Dunbar, mill owner. Originally the church was designed to accommodate a priest above the sacristy at the rear of the building. There is no evidence to suggest that a priest did take up residence there and it must be presumed that priests who served the entire parish lived at Laurencetown, Hallsmill or, later, at Drumhorc.

Laurencetown of bygone days

St. Colman's Church, Laurencetown, was further reconstructed in 1869-70 and on its completion in 1870 it was dedicated by Most Rev. Dr. Leahy, with Fr. Tom Burke O.P. as the preacher. No evidence survives as to the extent of the reconstruction but it appears it was mostly confined to internal work for, as we shall see later, Dr. Leahy was concerned about the potential danger of the roof of the building, as stated in a letter to Fr. O'Hagan. On 6th. June 1877, Fr. John Byrne P.P., died after labouring in Tullylish for 33 years. He is interred in Laurencetown Cemetery.

 

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