Parishioners of Magheraculmoney Parish, Ardess, along with individuals from
throughout the Diocese of Clogher, the wider community and beyond, gathered
together to fill to overflowing the Parish Church of St Mary’s, Ardess
for the institution of the Revd Henry Blair as Rector, who succeeds the Revd
Chancellor Eric McGirr. The service took place on Thursday 17th February
2011 at 8.00pm. The service of institution was conducted by the Bishop of
Clogher, the Rt Revd Dr Michael Jackson, the organist was Mr Glenn Moore,
and the singing was led by the Parish Choir.
A large number of Parish and Diocesan Readers and Clergy from across the
Diocese attended. Representatives from the local Methodist and Roman Catholic
Church were also in attendance, as were a number of local civic representatives.
The procession was led by the Churchwardens, Mr Bob McCurry and Mr Alan Spence,
and the processional hymn was Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father.
The Old Testament Reading, Isaiah chapter 61 verses 1-6, was read by Mr Robert
Beare, a Sunday School Teacher in the parish. Psalm 119 verses 105-114 was
led by the Rural Dean of Kesh, the Revd Glenn West, and the Epistle, James
chapter 1 verses 22-25, was read by Ms Jill Parkinson, Principal of Kesh
Primary School. The parish worship group, led by Mr Willy Balfour and Mrs
Helen Blair, led the singing of the gradual hymn, My heart will sing to you
because of your great love. The Gospel reading, St Matthew chapter 7 verses
24-28, was read by Mr Brian Ross, Parish Reader. The sermon was preached
by the Revd Canon Sam Wright, Rector of Lisburn Cathedral, Diocese of Connor,
a former rector of Cleenish and Mullaghdun parishes in the Diocese of Clogher.
Having been presented by the Archdeacon, the Venerable Cecil Pringle, Revd
Blair was instituted by the bishop, who was assisted by the Diocesan Registrar,
the Revd Canon John Stewart. The Act of Institution was followed with the
hymn I, the Lord of sea and sky and the Commission, during which a number
of readings took place. Those reading during the Commission included Mr Maurice
Lee, Scouts Leader, Mrs Frances Knox, Mothers’ Union Branch Leader,
Miss Megan Vance, a member of the Confirmation Class, Mr John Entwistle,
Select Vestry Member and former Parish Treasurer, and Miss Edith Knox, Assistant
The hymn Jesus, all for Jesus followed the Commission, and the offertory
hymn was Crown him with many crowns. The Blessing was said by the Bishop,
after which the Aaronic Blessing, The Lord Bless You and Keep You, based
on Numbers chapter 6 verses 24-26 and set to music by John Rutter, was sung
by the choir. The final hymn was To God be the glory! Great things he has
Everyone was invited for a superb tea after the service in Ardess Parish
Hall, where a number of speeches were made under the chairmanship of the
Revd Glenn West, Rural Dean of Kesh. Mrs Sandra Ross, Parish Reader, spoke
on behalf of the Parish, the Revd Eleanor Haydn on behalf of the local Methodist
Church, and the Revd Brendan Gallagher on behalf of the local Roman Catholic
Church. The speeches concluded with words from the Revd Blair and the Bishop.
In addition to the kind words expressed to Revd Blair on his appointment
as Rector, warm words of appreciation and congratulations were extended to
Bishop Jackson on his appointment as Archbishop of Dublin and Glendalough.
Other institutions forthcoming in the Diocese include the institution of
the Revd Noel Regan in Clogher Cathedral on Thursday 31st March and the Revd
Rosemary Logue in Kilskeery Parish Church on Monday 4th April. Also Mr Jonny
Phenix will be commissioned as Diocesan Youth Officer at a special service
in Enniskillen Cathedral on Sunday 13th March at 7.30pm.
The name, Magheraculmoney, has been translated to “the plain of the
back of the shrubbery” and “the plain of the peaty angle.” An
Order of Council was issued on 27th February 1770, dividing the parish into
two, with the second parish being called Drumkeeran. The first rector of
Magheraculmoney was recorded in 1439, and records state that the Church,
also previously known as Templemaghery Church, was originally built during
the fourteenth century and was subsequently burnt in 1484. Part of today’s
present stone built structure can be dated as far back as fifty years before
the Reformation. In 1622 it was noted that the Church was lately roofed,
but not glazed. It has since undergone extensive alterations and enlargements
during the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Ardess Church
with its three stage tower now stands proudly as a distinctive landmark.
Directly beneath the Church lies the family vault of the Archdales, once
one of Fermanagh’s significant plantation families.
The graveyard surrounding the Church is immediately recognisable as an ancient
pre-plantation graveyard and it is estimated that there is a total of 433
marked grave headstones, flat slabs and crosses, with the oldest visible
date being 1679. From 1608 until 1903 the graveyard served both Protestant
and Catholic families in the district. All these graves face east with the
exception of the priests’ who, according to local folklore, face west
reportedly overlooking their flock.
Running right across and dividing the pre-plantation graveyard in two is
a huge fourteen foot wide trench grave. Described locally as the Famine Pit
the huge long narrow sunken grave of 120 feet was used for burial during
the Great Famine of 1845 – 1850. In 1997 Ardess Community Association
marked the 150th anniversary of 1847 by restoring the unmarked famine pit
and creating a sensitive memorial commemorating the many forgotten famine
victims from North West Fermanagh, and in 2000 an ecumenical service of dedication
and commemoration was held in the churchyard.
A former incumbent, the Revd Canon F.A. Baillie, Rector from 1979-1987, published
Magheraculmoney Parish: A Short History in 1984.
Located across the road from the church, Ardess Parish Centre, which opened
in 2001, provides excellent facilities to support the many activities which
the parish run. The parish also have a small Church Hall which it established
in 1957 in the townland of Mullaghfarne, located approximately five miles
The Old Court House located on Kesh Main Street, adjacent to the Rectory,
was recently purchased by the parish to provide a venue for church meetings
and activities in the village of Kesh. On the outskirts of Kesh, the Fountain
Youth Centre which was established in 2000 provides a range of youth activities.
Work will shortly commence on a substantial replacement building providing
drop-in facilities, meeting rooms, sports hall, toilets, showers and kitchen
provision. It is anticipated that the new facility will open in September
Each Sunday morning, two services take place in the parish church, a more
traditional service and a more contemporary service, and Evening Prayer is
held once a month in Mullaghfarne Hall. Over 300 worshippers attend the various
services in the parish each Sunday. In addition to the organist and choir
leading the worship at services, a number of worship groups are drawn from
15 musicians and vocalists, and short dramas are written and performed at
Proverbs 29v18 reminds us that growth comes as a result of a clear vision
and the parish vision can be summed up as "Love God, love each other,
love the lost” that finds its outworking in four words win, consolidate,
disciple, send. To win people to Jesus Christ, to consolidate people in the
faith and into the Church, to disciple people in the Word of God, and send
people as leaders.
Prayer is at the heart of the life of the parish and includes a monthly 24
hour prayer, a weekly ladies prayer morning, Sunday morning prayer prior
to church services, weekly revival prayer, prayer walking, and a text prayer
request system. Each Friday night a ministry of healing takes place from
7.30 to 8.30pm praying for the specific needs of those who come along, and
also following the Sunday services, prayer ministry is available, for those
The parish encourages discipleship through small group meetings that are
based around the cell group ministry concept, where biblical values are taught
and experienced. The cell groups focus on Jesus being at the centre of all
that we do, and meet weekly in each other’s homes.
The Mothers’ Union meet each month, and Friends in the Afternoon, which
is the parish’s senior citizens group, meets twice each month.
Other activities in the parish include Divorce Care, the Alpha Course, Walking
Group and Historical Society.
Youth is an important focus of the parish, in addition to Sunday School and
the Confirmation Group, young people are involved in Waterworks after school
Bible Club in the primary school, Ardess Little Lambs Mother and Toddler
Group, Sunday morning Crèche, Girl Guides, Boy Scouts and the Fountain
Youth Centre. A number of young people from the parish also attend Summer
Madness and the Diocesan J1 weekend each year.
A number of parishioners are involved in overseas mission on a regular basis,
around the world.
Parishioners are kept informed through a weekly news sheet and the parish
website, www.ardess.org, where a Podcast carries recordings of the previous
six sermons. CD recordings are made of all services and are distributed to
the housebound and other listeners.
Bishop Jackson and Revd Blair