1954 January to June.

National Events.

The Flags and Emblems Act in Northern Ireland (6 April) bans interference with the Union Jack and effectively prohibits the public or private display of the tricolour
Michael Manning (aged 25) becomes the last man to be executed by the state in the Republic of Ireland: he is hanged on 20 April at Mountjoy jail, Dublin, for the murder of a nurse
General election in the Republic (18 May): a second coalition government takes office on 2 June with John A. Costello as Taoiseach
The IRA raids Gough military barracks, Armagh (12 June)
Brendan Behan’s The Quare Fellow opens at the Pike Theatre, Dublin (19 November)
A four-month bank dispute commences in the Republic (4 December)
The last issue of The Bell appears
Christy Brown’s My Left Foot is published
A record 84,856 people watch Cork beat Wexford in the All-Ireland hurling final at Croke Park

Births.

Jimmy Barry Murphy (hurler and Gaelic footballer) in Cork (22/8)
Ollie Campbell (rugby player) in Dublin (3/3)
Maud Cotter (stained-glass artist)
Síle de Valera (Fianna Fáil politician) in Dublin
Bob Geldof (rock musician, charity organizer) in Dún Laoghaire, Co. Dublin (5/10)
Richard Kearney (philosopher and writer) in Cork
Ger Loughnane (Clare hurler and manager)
Thomas McCarthy (poet) in Cappoquin, Co. Waterford
Kevin Moran (Dublin Gaelic footballer; Manchester United, Sporting Gijon, Blackburn Rovers and Republic of Ireland footballer) in Dublin (29/4)
Brian Mullins (Dublin Gaelic footballer) in Dublin (27/9)
Éilís Ní Dhuibhne (writer and lecturer) in Dublin
Julie O’Callaghan (poet) in Chicago
Mary O’Donnell (writer and broadcaster) in Monaghan
Dennis O’Driscoll (poet) in Thurles, Co. Tipperary
Bobby Sands (IRA member and hunger striker) in Belfast
Mikey Sheehy (Kerry Gaelic footballer) in Co. Kerry (28/7)

Deaths.

John Collins
Margaret Cousins
James Green Douglas
Denis Fahey
Henry Harrison
Elinor Price
Robert Smyllie.

Local Events.

2-1-54 Enniskillen new Fire Station, now completed, will be opened shortly. The brigade consists of 20 members under section leader Robert McCutcheon.

2-1-54 There is no need for alarm in Fermanagh says Dr. Brian Moore, Chief Medical Officer for the County, speaking about the four cases of infantile paralysis reported in Fermanagh in the past month.

2-1-54 A youth named Patrick Barron of Derryrona, Leggs PO, Belleek is in Fermanagh County Hospital suffering from head injuries suffered on Christmas Day while riding a motor cycle.

2-1-54 A Donegal youth, Johnston Morrow of Derrybrick, Clonelly was sentenced to one month imprisonment for driving a tractor while disqualified and without insurance or licence and also for obtaining a license while disqualified. He had been employed by David George Noble of Derrybrick.

9-1-54  St. Mary’s Hall, Devenish, was packed for “The Message of Fatima,” Pageant by the local school children. An enthralled audience drawn from four counties saw unfold scene by scene the wonderful miracle which shook the world only thirty six years ago. I take of my hat to Fr. Marron and his brilliant galaxy of juvenile stars and I think it only fair to hand a special bouquet to little Nuala Gilbride of Rosinver, who played the part of Our Lady of Fatima in a manner worthy of the highest commendation. The parts of the children to whom the apparition appeared were played by Bridie Neilan, Agnes Burns and M. J. Flanagan.

16-1-54 Irvinestown’s unbelievable plight to end soon. For years past they have had the water turned on for only two hours per day and only one hour in the Summer. In January they are to join up to the huge Lough Braden water network.

16-1-54 An application to have the Ballinamallard – Mossfield – Sydare closed for the annual “Enniskillen 100” motor cycle race this year was granted by Fermanagh County Council. Owing to a late application last year there was no race – the first occasion this happened since the war.

16-1-54  Lawyer and cattle dealer summonsed at Belleek as a result of accidents at a bad bend at Keenaghan, Belleek within five days of each other. The defendants were cattle dealer Maurice Leonard, Pettigo and Thomas T. Montague, LLB, Irvinestown. Leonard’s cattle lorry demolished a length of stone wall and had the front axle torn from the vehicle was fined £1 for driving without due care and 10s for not producing his insurance within five days. Evidence was given that the front tyres of the lorry were smooth. In his own defence Montague said that there was no evidence that he was driving without due care and that the skid marks and damage to the wall were just as likely to have been those caused by the lorry. Case dismissed for insufficient evidence.

16-1-54 In a sequel to a row over admission to a dance hall at Brollagh, Frederick Brock was fined £1 and bound over for a year on his own bail of £5. Sydney Brock who was trying to take his brother from the police was fined £3 for obstruction, £3 for disorderly behaviour and bound over for a year for £5. John Dolan was fined £3 for disorderly behaviour and £1 for obstruction and also bound over and Thomas Murphy was fined £1.

16-1-54 It was with regret that his many friends heard of the death of Mr. Patrick Eves, Kesh, one of the oldest and most respected residents of Kesh. Until he retired from business due to failing health he had carried on a long and successful business as a spirit merchant and farmer and had earned a fine reputation as a man of sound judgment, a good counselor and neighbour and the respect of men of all creeds.

23-1-54  Mrs Mary Mc Garrity, (49) wife of John Mc Garrity, tenant of apartments in the old Workhouse, Townhill, Irvinestown, gave her life on Friday night in an effort to save her two daughters, Josie (24) and Veronica (19) who were returning from the cinema at 11.00 when they became entangled in a live electricity cable in the darkness of an enclosed yard in front of their dwelling place. The wire had been broken in the storm. Hearing their screams their parents rushed down to help them and were aided by Samuel Gillespie, an electrician, who helped the father and two daughters get clear. Unfortunately Mrs Mc Garrity was fatally shocked and died on her way to hospital.

23-1-54  Garda William Melly, Dublin Metropolitan Police has retired after 39 year’s service from 1st January 1954. He was stationed all his time in Dublin and was attached to the Dublin District Courts for over 30 years. He served through all the troubled years in the city during his service. He was a native of Castle Caldwell, County Fermanagh.

23-1-54  It was with regret that the people of Devenish heard of the death of Mrs Ellen Feely on January 5th. She had been a member of the Total Abstinence Association since 1911.

6-2-54  Mr. S. Hernon, Secretary of Devenish GAA Club said in his report that last year was not an outstanding success although the Minor team had got to the County final only to be defeated by a very good Lisnaskea team.

13-2-54 The Annual Fermanagh County GAA Convention was held in Enniskillen on the last Sunday in January with 74 delegates present, the greatest ever number. Not counted were Mr. Denis Hogan and Denis Leonard of the newly formed Knocks club who were not allowed to vote since their team did not compete in the last championship in 1953. All three nominees for chairman were unwilling to put their names forward but this was not accepted and Mr. Thomas Campbell, Belleek, was retained in office for a fourth time. The most far-reaching motion to be decided was to reduce the number of players on Senior teams from 15 to 13. This probably suits most Fermanagh pitches better and should lead to a more open brand of football.

27-2-54 Lack Farmer, 54 year old, Francis Mc Cusker, Largy, Lack, was killed while loading trees on to a lorry from an embankment on his farm. A verdict of accidental death was returned at the inquest. He was a brother of Nurse McCusker, Ederney.

27-2-54 Regret has been occasioned by the death of Mrs F. Campbell, wife of Mr. Francis Campbell, Aghoo, Devenish, after a long illness.

6-3-54 A fine of £3 was imposed on Bernard Mc Kenna, Ardees, Roscor, Belleek for stealing an Exide battery from a motor cycle parked at Mahoo. District Inspector Wolseley said that the defendant had previously been convicted of stealing cattle.

6-3-54 The Belleek V Enniskillen Gaels football match was abandoned at half time due to snow with the score Belleek 0-4, Enniskillen 0-1.

6-3-54  Death of Leitrim-Born Christian Brother, founder of Australia’s Boy’s Town. Regret is felt in Kiltyclogher and district by the death of Rev. Bro. Paul Francis Keaney, which occurred suddenly at his Christian Brothers College, Perth, Australia last Friday, 28th February. Known all over the great Australian Continent as the founder of Australia’s Boy’s Town and beloved for his charity and kindness towards the flotsam and jetsam of humanity with whom his social activities brought him into contact. His death is mourned by hundreds of orphaned and abandoned boys who owing to Br Paul’s noble work are today happy and prosperous citizens.  He was born on a small farm at Corraleskin, Kiltyclogher in 1888 he was one of a family of nine of whom seven still survive. He joined the RIC in 1909 and served two years before emigrating. He received the OBE in the Coronation honours list. When he decided recently to return to Ireland after an absence of 42 years he was presented with a cheque for £1,500 by the Australian Prime Minister, Mr. Menzies, on behalf of a group of businessmen as a tribute to his services. However his return to Ireland was not to be. (Another view from the Internet)

Brother Kearney, of Bindoon notoriety, was a saint to the Catholic Church and a monster to the boys placed in his “care”. The Catholic Church erected a huge statue of him at Bindoon. In a case of typical Aussie larrikinism, former boys at the Home knocked its head off one day. Reports indicate that they were observed attempting to use it as a football.

One of the six Royal Commissioners, former Senator for Western Australia, Andrew Murray, once described Kearney as “a sadist who indulged in criminal assault and who knowingly protected rings of predatory Brothers engaged in systemic, long-term sexual assault on defenceless children (Hansard 2001, p.27275 – Matter of Public Interest). Presumably, Mr. Murray will be eager to revisit the matter during the course of the Royal Commission.

Former inmates of Bindoon also pull no punches with regard to “The Orphans’ Friend” (as the plaque on his statue reads) Kearney, an abuser who stood 6ft. tall and weighed 17 stone. Laurie Humphreys says that “I guess you could call him a sadist”. John Hennessy, also from Bindoon, speaks with a stutter which he says is a legacy of being stripped naked and publicly flogged by Kearney. He notes that “At Bindoon, the threat of violence was ever present. The Brothers carried a strap consisting of leather stitched together and a metal weight.”

In a glowing tribute to Kearney, even the Christian Brothers had to acknowledge that “Conversely, some former inmates remember him as a brutal disciplinarian with an ungovernable temper, who neglected their education, exploited their labour and turned a blind eye to sexual abuse of them by other members of the staff.” Note the use of “some” rather than “all” in that statement. The paragraph concludes, for some reason, with the statement that “An enthusiast, Keaney was easily depressed by criticism.”

The 2001 Australian Senate Community Affairs and References Committee Report, titled “Lost Innocents: Righting the Record – Report on Child Migration”, detailed evidence which revealed the “depraved, violent and abusive nature” of Brother Keaney and his role in the “systematic abuse of children under his care”. In submissions to the Committee report, individuals who had been abused by Keaney described his brutality; “I lost my teeth at Bindoon – my face kicked repeatedly by Brother Keaney”. Similarly – “Br. Keaney was a very sadistic, perverted and deviant paedophile. He abused many of the boys… in his care. Tragically, there was just no one that we victims could go to for help. Who would have believed us anyway?”

Another former Bindoon resident stated that “The Christian Brothers used to walk around with a thick 18in leather strap hanging from the waist of their long, black outfits, and they’d give you a wallop at the slightest opportunity. They’d hit you wherever they could – be it on the backside or sole of the foot – and boy, did it hurt. Once I was on the receiving end of a real hiding from one of them. He was giving a younger lad a hard time and I must have said something under my breath. He lashed out with his strap and put in his boot. I ended up cowering under my bed, trying to escape him, and was left covered in bruises.”

Yet another noted that “He liked to prod us with a walking stick, and was one of the cruelest people I’ve ever met.”

A secret church report about Christian Brothers’ institutions such as Bindoon in Western Australia from the mid-30s right up to the mid-60s refers to:

  • brothers who were “odd or mentally unstable”,
  • of a “sex underworld”
  • of brothers who “shared boys” for sexual purposes
  • and that often the church hierarchy knew of the abuse and did nothing about it.

Kearney’s Bindoon was billed as an educational institution, but as one former resident claimed, “There was no teaching at Bindoon, and I know of several former inmates who still cannot read or write.” Another reported that “there wasn’t much in the way of schooling. I’d always been good at school in England but it pretty much ended overnight. A lot of the boys at Bindoon never learnt how to read or write.”

A CBS Television documentary aired in the U.S. claimed that, at Bindoon, “The priority was construction. Brother Francis Keaney, an imposing, white-haired Irishman who ran the place, was obsessed with building the largest Catholic institution in Western Australia. He used his charges as labor. From sunrise to sunset, the boys built Brother Keaney’s shrine, with no shoes, and no questions asked.”

When the Christian Brothers arrived in 1939 with the first group of seven boy labourers, the only building on the property was a mud-brick homestead which became their home. After the work of a generation of boys, the facility is grandiose and has been listed by the West Australian Government as a heritage-listed property.  The “Statement of Significance” refers to “The design, use of local materials, use of child labour, relationships of the buildings, and period during which they were constructed, make the places exceptionally significant, both individually and in their precinct setting. The place has an exceptional ‘sense of place’ for the ‘boys’, and their families.”

When Kearney arrived in 1940, with another eight boys, foundations were dug and one wing of the first building, the dormitory block now known as Edmund House, was officially opened by 1941. Most of the building work was completed by 1953. During construction, two boys died in accidents and a third died from an undefined cause. They are buried in simple graves on the site, while Br. Kearney’s grave has a large marble headstone, and, of course, a (headless) statue.

Not only did Kearney use forced child labour to build his edifice, he treated the boys badly in ways other than sexual abuse and violence. One of his slaves remembered that, on arrival, “We were immediately put to work. I learnt how to milk a cow within a week, and then we began constructing a new building. By the time I was 14, I was driving a truck. We’d work, sleep and eat. That was it.”

He also reported that “We slept on open verandas all-year round – and when a wind blew up, it got pretty cold. Foodwise, we’d get crushed wheat or porridge for breakfast, followed by bread in dripping (cow fat). The rest of the meals were similarly plain: we seemed to subsist on a diet of swedes and turnips.”

For his efforts, Kearney received Imperial Honours awards, known as an MBE and ISO. Despite all of the evidence of his unworthiness for such prestigious awards, attempts by many people to have the awards rescinded have, so far, been unsuccessful.

6-3-54 A Chemist Shop is now open at Mill Street, Pettigo under the management of M. T. Egan, M.P.S.I.

13-3-54 During the weekend telephone engineers started to erect telephone poles from Pettigo village to Tievemore Post Office where a Post Office telephone is being installed.

27-3-54 The Belleek Erne Drainage Strike over the sacking of a fitter who complained about their conditions of employment especially at the Marion crane at which he worked.

27-3-54 Devenish Pioneer Social on Sunday last in St. Mary’s Hall was a great success. The Sligo Pantomime Players provided the entertainment. Rev. Fr. Brennan, C.C., Pettigo was the guest of honour and was welcomed by Rev. Canon Coyle, a member of the Association for 33 years. The Association was first set up in the parish in 1945 and three Councils were established at Cashel, Toura and Devenish. The parish now has 242 Pioneers and 105 probationers and the juvenile section is being especially catered for in the schools.

27-3-54 The residents of Pettigo village and district deeply regret the transfer of Sergeant M. J. Mc Donagh, Garda Siochana, from Pettigo to Newtowncunningham during the week. Sergeant Mc Donagh was a very popular member of the Garda and for his brief stay in Pettigo village had endeared himself to everyone. Of a retiring disposition he was genial and had a most efficient manner in the discharge of his various duties. During his term as Sergeant in charge of Pettigo Garda Station lawlessness had completely disappeared in the area.

27-3-54 During blasting operations in a quarry at Cashelinney a small piece of rock from the quarry travelled 500 yards landing on the roof of Lettercran School and broke a few slates.

3-4-54 The opening of the Adelphi Cinema, Irvinestown on April 5th with the first film “Ivanhoe” with Robert and Elizabeth Taylor. Telephone Irvinestown 242.

3-4-54  Donegal defeat Fermanagh at Glenties. The ex-Fermanagh player Matt Regan (Belleek) was in sparkling form against his old colleagues. Many strange decisions by the referee almost led to the Fermanagh team leaving the field on several occasions in the second half. Sean Gonigle (Belleek) was the best player on the Fermanagh team.

17-4-54 Garrison man, Thomas Murphy, of Knockaraven, was fined £2 for assaulting another youth, Walter George Carson on March 14th. Murphy had caught hold of Carson’s bicycle by the carrier and bounced it up and down several times.

17-4-54 Very Rev. E. Canon Coyle, PP, Devenish paid tribute to the Anti-Partition League after an anti-Partition film show, concert and meeting in St., Mary’s Hall, Devenish on Sunday night. After thanking the speakers, Mr. Cahir Healy and P. J. O’Hare he said, “No other movement is doing anything only talking.”

24-4-54 Junior Football League – Holywell 2-11 – Devenish 1-7.

24-4-54 Garrison Publican, Patrick Casey, of Casey’s Hotel, was fined £1 for allowing the consumption of intoxicating drink on his licensed premises and his wife Margaret was fined £1 for aiding and abetting. Four persons found on the premises were each found 8 shillings. They had drink on the counter in front of them when the police entered at 10.00 p.m.

24-4-54 The O’Donnell Rally opens in Ballyshannon with glorious weather for a memorable occasion. It was attended by Mr. Aiken, Minister of External Affairs, Count O’Donnell and The O’Donnell.

24-4-54 Ballyshannon Notes. The town was gaily decorated with flags and bunting during the Easter weekend. This was to celebrate the opening of An Tostal and the O’Donnell Clan Rally. The Power House was illuminated with bright yellow lights, and viewed from the bridge, was an inspiring sight.

1-5-54 On Friday morning when travelling to her place of employment at Waterfoot, Pettigo, Miss Maggie Mc Caffrey, Mullinagoad, heard a fox barking and on investigation found a young fox which she promptly killed with a stick from the roadside.

1-5-54 Tievemore Post Office was on Thursday officially opened as a telephone call office.

1-5-54 The cuckoo was heard for the first time in the Pettigo area during the weekend, and also the corncrake, which is late compared with previous years.

1-5-54 The “Robe” at the Regal Cinema, Enniskillen. Enniskillen is this week enjoying its most stupendous cinematic treat. And when I say “stupendous” I know I am employing one of the superlatives that Hollywood blurbs have largely made meaningless. But using it with a due sense of proportion, one can only say of the magnificent drama, “The Robe” brought to the Regal, Enniskillen this week, in the new screen medium, cinemascope, that it is a stupendous achievement. Many feel that a wonderful religious performance like “The Robe” should finish only with a suitable religious air at the conclusion. There are three performances daily – Balcony 2/-, stalls 1/-.

1-5-54 In the Junior League Derrygonnelly defeated Devenish by 3-3 to 1-2. Devenish had a grand full back in J. Mulrone, who gave a sound display while others to impress were P. Keown, R, Mc Dermott and J. Treacy.

8-5-54 Enniskillen Unionist majority on the Town Improvements Committee which has Council powers in the allocation of houses voted to give four new Council houses in Derrychara to Protestants. This makes a total of 77 houses let at Derrychara, all to Protestants. There are 18 left to be let.

8-5-54 On Wednesday morning the wedding took place at St. Patrick’s Church Belleek of Mr. George Johnston, Pettigo and Miss Molly Monaghan, daughter of Mr and Mrs Edward Monaghan, Aghafoy, Pettigo. Mr. Edward Monaghan, brother of the bride was best man and Miss Mona Flood, “The Hotel” Pettigo was bridesmaid. Afterwards the happy couple set off for Bundoran for their honeymoon.

8-5-54 The wedding took place of Mr. John J. McGurl, Farrancassidy and Miss Maureen Doogan, Corry, Belleek.

8-5-54 The death is reported of Mr. John Dolan, Drumnasrene who was one of the most respected residents of Devenish Parish.

15-5-54 Ballyshannon’s new GAA Park opens with a Donegal win over Armagh in a challenge game.

5-6-54  The death is announced of Mr. James Maguire, Seemuldoon, building contractor, responsible for the erection (and of the design) of many fine schools, halls, churches and buildings. He had erected the curates house and Ederney Hall in his own parish.

5-6-54 A 22 mile dash by Enniskillen fire brigade saved the world-famous Belleek Pottery from possible destruction on Sunday. They reached Belleek in a record time of half an hour. Workmen and others, including police under Sergeant John Mc Michael, formed a bucket chain which confined the flames to a limited area of the kiln polishing room where the outbreak started. Fire fighting units from Ballyshannon also attended the blaze and Customs formalities were waived as they crossed the Border.

12-6-54 By attaching a wooden frame behind his motorbike, Mr. John O’Connor, Mulleek, was able to “top” two acres of potato drills in a few hours. When done by hand this usually took several days. Miss Rita Dolan, a nurse, of Killybig, Garison, was fined £2 for allowing a juvenile to drive her car without being properly licensed, and covered by the insurance, and she was disqualified for driving for a year. The RM suggested an early application be made to the court for the removal of the disqualification on Miss Dolan.

19-6-54  Daring Raid on Armagh military barracks. Fifteen khaki-clad men seize 700 guns from the Armory. Officers held up at pistol point.

19-6-54 For the second time in a fortnight the River Erne between Belleek and Roscor will be drained of all water.

19-6-54  Juvenile Football League. Ederney’s Grand Win over Gaels by 4-13 to 1-1. Ederney proved to be far too good for Gaels Juveniles. It was a pleasure to watch the Ederney team and especially their grand nippy forwards with their well-worked and constructive moves, and their beautiful finishing. Practice, training and constructive coaching were apparent in every movement. All were splendid but M. Maguire, Joe Turner, J. Moohan and especially A. Mc Grath, a grand little player with a great “pick-up” and a delightful body swerve merit special mention. J Wylie, N. McClurg, H. Herbert, V. Henderson and Nolan in goals were best for Gaels.

19-6-54  Mr E. Thompson, Castle Caldwell had a narrow escape from injury when, swerving to avoid an auto-cyclist, his car mounted a ditch and overturned. After treatment for injuries he was able to resume his journey in a friend’s car.

19-6-54 Senior Football Championship. Enniskillen Gaels qualified for the Divisional Final with a narrow victory over Ederney by 4-2 to 3-4. Best for Ederney were Jim Eves, B. Sheridan, B. Mc Hugh and the McKervey brothers. The stewards had the excellent idea of clearing the goal lines before the game started, thus leaving the two umpires at each goals free to carry out their duties more efficiently. Referee Mr. Bill Thompson.

26-6-54 In the league Irvinestown 1-4, Belleek 1-4. Best for the home team were O’Hanlon, Charlton, McGrory, Lennon (Joe who played for Down) Mahon, Maguire and Hegarty. The visitors were well served by McCann, Gonigle, Rooney, and Tinney. The match was refereed by Fr. Tom Marron, Ederney.

26-6-54  On next Sunday, June 27th, Pettigo village will be en fete for the annual Memorial celebrations which it is hoped will be a success. There will be a fancy dress parade led by Ederney and Irvinestown Bands to the new Memorial Park, where many football teams will compete for the Memorial Cup.

26-6-54 Irvinestown mid-week Tournament, 13-a-side for wristlet watches valued at £120 at St., Molaise Park, Irvinestown. Fixtures include Pettigo V Derrygonnelly Thursday 24th June and Trillick V Ederney Thursday 22nd July.

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