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Micheal O’Cleirigh School

Micheal O’Cleirigh School

Two wartime Nissan huts which formed the first Franciscan church in Rossnowlagh will be recalled when the Micheal O’Cleirigh Summer School opens this Friday(May 27).


UCD folklorist Dr Kelly Fitzgerald will report at the school in the Rossnowlagh friary hall on a local history project when she interviewed people who remember the arrival of the Franciscans in Rossnowlagh.


They celebrated their first mass in the resort in 1946 in a tiny church built from two wartime Nissan huts.


Six years later came the opening of the big, airy church which now stands sentinel above Rossnowlagh’s golden beach facing the Atlantic.


Even before that day the man who was to become the public face of the Franciscans in Rossnowlagh for more than half a century was already making his mark as the order’s local Mr Fixit.


Brother Paschal, who is buried in the friary grounds, was a layman recovering from pleurisy when he was visited by Franciscan priests at his cottage a mile from their tiny church.


He had an organ in his home which they borrowed for a service.


“They got a donkey and cart to carry the organ down,” Brother Paschal recalled for a national newspaper some years ago.


Some years afterwards he decided to be a Franciscan brother, and spent the rest of his lifetime in the service of the order.


These details and other aspects connected with the Franciscans in Rossnowlagh will feature in an address at 6pm on Friday by Dr Fitzgerald before the school is formally opened at 7pm by Marian Harkin, MEP for Midlands-North West.


Although the Franciscans arrived in 1946, their links with the area go back many hundreds of years to the time when Micheal O’Cleirigh, born in Creevy near Rossnowlagh, was a brother in the order.


He was chief of a small group of men who chronicled Ireland’s history in a work known as the Annals of the Four Masters 400 years ago.


The theme of the school this year, the third since it was founded by a local committee, is “Refugees & Strangers – Being Irish in Europe.”


Tickets for the events over three days and a dinner in the Sandhouse Hotel, Rossnowlagh, on Saturday night are available at 087 978 6566 and [email protected]


*The school is part-funded under the Community Tourism Disapora 2016 managed by Failte Ireland and Donegal Council.


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