By Kathleen O’Shea

At the turn of the twentieth century and probably before that, St. Brendan’s Church, Corrandulla had two side altars. One was adorned with a picture of Our Lady of Good Counsel where Mrs. Frances Butler, Winterfield House, Tonagurrane prayed. This altar was situated near where the commemorative window to the late Fr. P.V. O’Brien is today. In later times that same picture was hanging in the then childrens’ corner until the 1970s.

Across the aisle, where the window dedicated to St. Francis is now, Mrs. Helen Blake, Cregg Castle had a picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help on her altar. That picture has lingered on and can be seen today hanging on your left as you enter the church by the side door. Those two altars were beautifully adorned with golden-laced cloths, shining candle holders with lighted candles and of course flowers of the fairest. During Mass those two ladies would be praying with their backs to each other and side on to the rest of the congregation. Meanwhile the Reverend celebrant would be on the altar with his back to everyone.

Frances was Captain Butler’s second wife, he having been first married to her late sister Alice (née Jackson). The Jacksons owned a hardware business in Galway. It was also Frances’ second marriage. She had one son from the first marriage, Dr. Arthur Jackson-Brewe. He was one of two first class passengers to drown on the ill-fated Titanic in April 1912.

According to their great-grandson, Tony McCourt, Captain Butler was a Surgeon-Major in the British army and served in the Crimean War of the mid-1850s. Tony McCourt was the architect of the current national school in Corrandulla which opened in 1995.

Captain Butler died in 1887 and Frances died in October 1912, six months after her son.

The six tall candleholders you sometimes see on the altar for special occasions were donated by Mrs. Blake, who died in 1925. Her remains reposed in the oratory in Cregg Castle and it is said that seven masses were said for her happy repose during the course of the day.

Mrs. Butler presented a sanctuary lamp, which is not the present one. At one time the pews only extended half way down the church. Mr. Patsy Furey, Bunatubber, donated pews for the rest of the church.

In the 1920s, the principal in the girls school, Miss Mary E. Comer, a native of Williamstown presented a set of vestments and the four brass vases that are still used on the altar. Each vase is engraved underneath with ME Comer.

Miss Comer’s assistant teacher was Miss Nora Loughnane of Shanaglish in south Galway. She was a sister of the ill-fated Pat and Harry Loughnane who were arrested and brutally murdered by the Black and Tans in November 1920. During the time of their incarceration the Tans came to the Girls’ School and took Miss Loughnane away for interrogation as they falsely claimed that her brothers had escaped. The school children spent the whole day praying for her safe delivery.

Meanwhile a Crossley tender had arrived at Pat and Margaret Stauntons, Mullaghadrum, where Miss Loughnane had been lodging. They ransacked Stauntons house and poured petrol around the outside, threatening to burn it. They only relented when Margaret Staunton promised not to keep Miss Loughnane as a lodger anymore. When the Black and Tans arrived at Staunton’s they blocked the road on the brow of the hill with more than one Crossley tender. I heard from Mrs. Mary (Mom) Hynes (1894 – 1998), that on her way from Corrandulla she came upon the blockade.

A machine gun was placed on the wall and she saw them putting the petrol around the house. She had to stand there terrified until a policeman from Cloonboo RIC Barracks said she was alright, that they could let her pass. She had to climb up on the side of the road and hold on to Cahills wall in order to do so.

After that Miss Loughnane lodged at Wades cottage beside Cregg Mill. Whilst identifying the bodies of her dead brothers she is alleged to have said:

“Their souls are in heaven, they died for Ireland so it doesn’t matter how their bodies look.”

Sometime later she joined the Our Lady of Apostles order of nuns in Cork and served in Africa, being known as Sister M. Patricia. Her last days were spent in Castlemagarrett Nursing Home near Claremorris which was then run by the OLA Sisters. She died in 1984.

The statue of St. Therese of Lisieux inside the main door of the church was presented by Fanny Saunders. She had come from the north of Ireland to serve as a governess to Emily and Marcella Ryan of Mace House. When she had completed their instruction, their mother Mrs. Ryan, (Helen Blake’s sister) kept her on as her lady’s maid. During her long stay at Mace House, she converted to Catholicism.

Author’s note: A lot of this information came from my mother Julia O’Neill (née Lally), November 1900 – 3 February 1971.

Note: This article originally appeared in our Winter 2018 Newsletter.

Reflections on the Past

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