Church on the border prepares to celebrate 175th anniversary


Officials from Drummully Parish prepare for their anniversary service this weekend.

A border church which lies in the Republic of Ireland but has most of its congregation living in Northern Ireland will celebrate its 175th anniversary this weekend.

St. Mary’s Parish Church, Drummully, was built in the townland of Clonooney in Co. Monaghan in 1844 and this Sunday afternoon, 24th November, will mark its special milestone.

The special anniversary will be marked at a joint group service including the parishes of Galloon and Sallaghy on Sunday, 24th November at 3pm, the Feast of Christ the King at which the service will be led by the Bishop of Clogher, Right Revd. John McDowell and Mr Roy Crowe, the Diocesan Reader and Diocesan Pastoral Assistant who has been leading services during the vacancy.

Interestingly while Drummully Church is situated in Co. Monaghan, the majority of its congregation are from Co. Fermanagh.

As the Revd Nigel Baylor wrote for the 150th anniversary, “Since the church was built, the world as it was then, has changed enormously and many people have come and gone from the area. The church, however, has remained and is a continual witness to the Christian faith in the district.”

Church officials outside St Mary's Church Drummully Co. Monaghan.

The parish church of Drummully remained in the Newtownbutler area throughout the 18th Century when during an Act of Privy Council in 1804, Drummully lost a number of townlands and because the loss included the parish church at Newtownbutler. As a result, Drummully took over Drumkrin Church which was dissolved at this time.

When Drummully built their new church on the present site, dated 1844, they named it St. Mary’s, Drummully, after Drumcrin.

A vestry meeting held at St. Mary’s Drumcrin in 1828 resulted in a decision to build a new church rather than repair Drumcrin and also because it was often surrounded by water during floods. A site in the land at Clonooney was acquired for the new church built in the 1840’s.

The building of the church also coincided with the Famine and the population of many parts of Fermanagh and Monaghan was decimated but the parish of Drummully was largely unaffected.
Drummully church is designed in early English Gothic style. One of the characteristic features of this style is the use of the single lancet window, long and narrow in proportion.

The roof is supported by Queen-post trusses and wall brackets.

Drummully’s fine old silver plate dating from 1776 is still in use in Galloon Parish Church and the oldest silver in Drummully Parish Church is from the former parish of St. Mary’s, Drumcrin.

The lectern was a gift presented in 1891 and the Font made in Dublin was a gift in 1890.

Following Partition in 1921/22, Drummully Parish was cut off from the United Kingdom by the new border. However an area known by Drummully Salient, an area of Co. Monaghan surrounded by County Fermanagh and inaccessible by road except through County Fermanagh was not policed until May 1924. Then police from the Free State were allowed to pass into the 16 cut-off townlands through Northern Ireland.

Rural depopulation resulted in a decline in the number of parishioners of Drummully Parish, not only as a result of the Troubles but the lack of employment in the area as well.

Drummully Church has the smallest congregation in the group of Galloon, Sallaghy and Drummully with 36 people on its register but its parishioners have continued to preserve this place of worship for many others to share.

However this weekend, the church is expected to be filled to celebrate this special event.

A selection of fine silver at Drummully Church.