Newry: A look back in time – Bessbrook Canon Golden Jubilee
Friday, February 7th, 2014
Community, Old Newry
In our new column Newry Times columnist Sean O’Siridean takes a look back through the Newry of old. He takes a step back in time and looks at how history reported on Newry and the surrounding areas through past decades. Today Sean delves into the history of Bessbrook.
Taken from the The Freeman’s Journal Sydney Australia dated 13th July 1911 with the headline ‘NEWS FROM IRELAND. A GREAT PRIEST AND PATRIOT HONOURED.—CARDINAL LOGUE’S TRIBUTE.’
Although he was the Parish Priest of Camlough, it would seem he had quite a significant hand in the building of the Convent in Bessbrook, and the schools that adjoin them, a school I attended myself until 1991 under the stewardship of Sister Finbar (those were the days).
The news clip stated, ‘He had erected a new convent at Bessbrook, which was one of the most magnificent edifices in Ireland, and he had attached to that convent schools which had no parallel throughout the whole country.
‘In addition, he had succeeded in making the teachers of his schools comfortable by building residences for them.’
Quinn was born in the highlands of Kildress, of an old County Tyrone family, who trace their ancestry back to the royal line of the O’Neills. On being ordained a priest he was appointed a curate in Cookstown, and having served in the ministry in Dungannon and Armagh was promoted to the pastorate of Lower Kiileavy in 1874.
He seemed to be a man that was to the fore in the community, however he was outspoken too. From one article I unearthed he threatened to ban Irish from the schools of his parish because he claimed that ‘Sinn Fein turned the Gaelic League into a political machine.’
Whilst reading into Canon Quinn’s family history, I found this on his family tree: CANON CHARLES QUINN.P.P.V.G. born 1833, BEAGHMORE CO.TYRONE, Occupation: PROMINENT CLERIC (ARMAGH), BURIED CARRICKRUPPEN CAMLOUGH CO ARMAGH.
Canon Quinn died 4.5.1925, LOWER KILLEAVEY CO. ARMAGH, buried MAY 1925, CARRICKRUPPEN NEAR CAMLOUGH CO. ARMAGH. Charles ordained Maynooth 14.6.1862. Appointments: 1863 Curate Drumglass.1864- 1872 curate Armagh. 1873 administrator Armagh.1875-1924 P.P. Lower Killeavey.
He celebrated his golden jubilee in Bessbrook on Sunday 4th June 1941. A separate folio of papers exist on this man which is worth reading. Charles and his brother Bernard crashed on their pony and trap on September 18th 1902 and as the local newspaper said “the venerable pastor hurt his legs”.
A man I knew very little about if truth be told, but a man no less worthy of mention as we look back at historical moments and figures from the Newry and Mourne area.
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