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Advances in Schooling and a new hall in Gilford

Fr. John Joseph Lennon, a native of Rathfriland, was appointed Parish Priest on 6th December, 1948. No stranger to the parish - he had been a curate there in 1916-17 - he soon renewed old acquaintances. He always spoke briefly and very much to the point. A life-long interest in the language and culture of Ireland coloured his whole outlook.

In Tullylish, a new primary school was planned for Gilford and an extension to Bann Primary School in Laurencetown. In addition, the parish had to contribute its share to the provision of new secondary schools in Banbridge and Lurgan. In 1955, a site was purchased for £500 for the new school in Gilford and, once planning approval was granted, work commenced immediately. The foundation stone was laid on 16th. August 1956 by Most Rev. Eugene O'Doherty, Bishop of Dromore. On that occasion he visited and inspected the progress being made in building the new Catholic Club hall. 1957 was a momentous year in the history of the parish. On Sunday, 20th January, Bishop O'Doherty officially opened the new hall. The new building - 85 feet by 38.5 feet, with spring flooring - compared favourably with the best halls of the day. In September, St. John's Primary School, Gilford was officially blessed and opened by the bishop, the total cost being £20,000. In the autumn of 1957, work was completed on an extension to Bann Primary School, Laurencetown. A new classroom, staffroom and meals' servery were completed at a cost of £l 1,000. This work was carried out by McConville Bros., Building Contractors, Portadown. Schools in the parish were now of modern design and comparable to any to be found in any sector of the educational system.

Fr. Lennon, along with his parishioners, had achieved his ambition and provided the necessary facilities that he had spoken of so often during his early ministry in the parish. He died on 19th. November 1958 and is interred in Laurencetown Cemetery.

 

 

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