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‘Local Gossip’

St Johnston and Carrigans News

Merry Christmas To All Our Readers!
December 1999

Greetings Readers,

As this is the last edition of the Newsletter for 1999 and for the Millennium, we would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy Christmas. We would also like to express many thanks to everyone who helped out with activities throughout the year. There are far too many to name, but thanks…YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE! Don’t forget to check out what’s happening for the New Year’s Celebrations on P.4.

Wishing you all the very best for the festive season and the New Year,

Best Wishes,

Resource Group AGM :

A New Committee for A New Year

By all accounts, the 1999 AGM of the St Johnston and Carrigans Resource Group was a huge success. The AGM is something people usually try to avoid, to minimise the risk of actually being elected to a committee. The usual dread associated with an AGM was nowhere evident on Thursday, December 2nd when a new committee was elected to manage both the project and the new Resource Centre.

After many years struggling to raise funds to build a resource centre for the community, the end line is, at last, in sight. The Centre is due to be opened by St Patrick’s Day and judging from the turn out at the AGM, we have finally begun to see the importance of the project both to ourselves and to our children.

The following people were elected to the committee on the night:

· Derrig Higgins; Chairperson

· Mary Crossan; Vice –chair

· Frances Browne; Secretary

· Deirdre Browne; Treasurer

· Deborah Toland; PRO

· Nora Browne

· Peter Hickey

· Maureen Higgins

· Mabel Porter

· Mary Browne

· John McCartney

· Susan Duffy

· Nan Lynch

Inside This Issue


AGM : A New Committee for a New Year


Memories are made of this…


Killarney Bound – NOT


When Home is where the hurt is


Youth Drama Group Star Performance


Christmas and Millennium Celebrations

St Johnston and Carrigans Resource Group

As we stand on the edge of the twentieth century, I find myself looking back and reminiscing on times gone by. St Johnston will never be in the league of famous places but to a child growing up in the latter half of the century it was an exciting, safe place to be. The sense of belonging was ever present. Child rearing was a communal task, there was always some one watching over you. A village of guardian angels, although this was not always appreciated by the child in question.

The Railway station was a hub of activity, with constant comings and goings. The trip to Derry was a scenic journey spanning the widest part of the river Foyle. The train seemed to glide over the river in parts. As a child, it was magical to view the wild life and fauna close up and to observe the colours and changes of the river. How many stories never told of emmigrants leaving home with heavy hearts, some never to return, happy couples honeymooning, shopping trips with a bit of smuggling to add to the excitement. I often wonder at the lack of vision of the people who took the decision to close the railway. For the villages of Carrigans, St Johnston and Porthall it was a severance of their life-line, the beginning of the end to prosperity.

School was a necessary part of life, the mod cons like central heating and indoor toilets were far from where we were educated. Each child brought sticks to school to provide what little heat there was. Before lunch the tea bottles were lined up in front of the fire to heat. When the corks popped, it was time for lunch. Singing class was the highlight of the day, all the old tunes got a blast. We didn’t realise how lucky we were being taught by a famous poet and song-writer, Sean McBride. I thought that he was ancient as he had taught my mother in the old school house at Brown’s, opposite the chapel.

The village itself was seldom still. It’s hard to imagine, but it once boasted fifteen shops all flourishing, providing for


every need; sawmills, butchers, tailors, DIY, shoe-makers and grocers. On the day of a funeral the pubs would be packed; occasionally there would be a row that would spill out onto the street, but it would soon be resolved and everybody would return to finish their drinks.

The fishing season was a very exciting time with the comings and the goings to the shore. Talk of shots, weights, prices, boats, nets and bailiffs was the order of the day. The river was prosperous then, men could earn enough to keep their families for the lean winter months and some even managed to invest in land or property.

Saturday was like a scene from a story book with the horses and hounds from the hunt. The boys would run after the pack opening and closing the gates to be rewarded with half crowns, tickets for the Carricklea Races in Strabane and rides on the horses.

The excursion to the Letterkenny show and Portrush were the highlights of the Summer. Martha Gilchrist would have been first on the bus with about twenty children in her care. There was always crack on the street from the local characters, including Willie Stephenson with his famous rendition of Stumpy’s Brae. People seemed to have more time to enjoy each others company and still managed to get their day’s work done.

If I have one wish for the Millennium, I would like for every child growing up in St Johnston to have as happy a childhood as mine.

- Mary Crossan


Two introductory courses in computers are scheduled to begin early in the New Year. These courses are fully booked. If you have registered for one of these courses, you will receive a letter early in the Jan. with details of dates, costs and venues.

· John O’Donnell

· Phonsie Browne



The Christmas Period should ideally be a time of happiness, but sadly for many families it can become one of the most stressful times of the year with many women and children dreading the festive season because of domestic violence.

In houses all over the country this Christmas, some women will be trying to do their beas, often on a limited budget or maybe heavily in debt, to provide a good christmas for the children while walking on eggshells themselves, trying to placate an abusive partner. He may be seen by outsiders as a lovely man and a good provider and ‘doesn’t she know how lucky she is’. This attitude in itself can be enough to stop a woman seeking help as she fears that she will not be believed.

With the children on holiday from school over the Christmas period, they will, no martyr how much the mother tries to keep them out of harm’s way, witness more of the abuse that is occurring in the house. Seeing, hearing their mother being physically, emotionally, sexually and mentally abused by their father.

This can lead to bed wetting, withdrawn behaviour, being destructive of surroundings, becoming abusive to mother and to the other children, being angry with mother for not stopping the abuse, ‘keeping in with’ father by telling tales about mother in order to keep themselves safe. With these traumatic experiences occurring in their home life they may feel safer in school dreading weekends and holidays.

Alcohol, especially over the festive season, is frequently blamed by men who abuse their partners and children, stating that they were drunk, can’t remember what has happened and so are not to blame for their actions. They will often place the blame on their partner for ’naging’, for ‘not keeping the children quiet’, for spending ‘too much money’, for ‘flirting’ with other men at parties, etc. etc. Abusive men will always find and excuse for their behaviour.



Are you or anyone you know a victim of physical, mental, sexual or emotional abuse at home? If you feel you need confidential support/information, emergency accommodation or just someone to talk to ; contact the Women’s Refuge

Do not suffer in silence. Talk to some-one. Contact the Women’s Refuge. Tel. (074) 27591 or (074) 26267.


Two young ladies from St Johnston who wish to remain anonymous, were caught hook, line and sinker recently when they decided to go on a day trip. They were told by their father that he had heard that there was a bus leaving Lifford for Killarney, but what made the trip all the more tempting was that the return fare was only £6. The two girls dolled up to the ninties, headed for Lifford and boarded the bus. Shopping and the Killarney scenery was an exciting prospect, with the added incentive that they might find a partner on the bus. However, that notion quickly faded when they noticed that the bus was full with pensioners. One man was so excited to see ‘two nice wee things’ on the bus, the two girls become so preoccupied by his comments that they failed to notice the direction the bus was travelling in.

Their father had mis-heard an advertisement on the local radio. He heard correctly that the return fare was £6, but the destination was Kincasslagh and the trip was targeted at O.A.P.’s.

It was not until the P.A. announced that the bus would be stopping at the Viking Hotel for tea and scones that the two girls asked ‘What are we stopping here for?’ They quickly received the answer!

- Mark McCrossan


The Resource Office will be closed for Christmas from Monday, December 20th until Jan. 5th, 2,000. See you all in the New Year!






SAMARITANS 074-27200

FR. CARR 074-48203

REV. JONES 074- 48194

CANON CROOKS 074-40135


WOMEN’S REFUGE 074- 26267

Christmas and Millennium Celebrations

The last Christmas of the Millennium has witnessed a surge in community spirit and the placing of Christmas Trees in both Carrigans and St Johnston. Despite unsuccessful attempts to get funding from the Millennium Fund, a number of people have been working very hard to plan a fireworks display to celebrate the new Millennium.

At 6pm on Friday, December 31st there will be a Millennium Prayer service involving all the different churches in the area. This will be followed by a New Year’s Eve Fireworks display at 7pm. This is a family event and is being planned at this time so that all members of the community, young and old, can come along. Where you are at mid-night is up to you but don’t miss the celebrations on New Year’s Eve……



The Grianan Theatre in Letterkenny is the largest and newest theatre in the North Western region. Since its opening earlier this year, the Theatre has played host to a variety of professional drama, dance and music performances, including the RTE Chamber Orchestra and the Blue Rain Coat Theatre Company.

On Sunday, December 5th, 1999, the St Johnston and Carrigans Youth Drama Group took to the stage for their first public performance.

The group’s performance of ‘Villa in Venus’ was very well received and gained huge applause.

The group, who have been working together for over a year, showed a level of talent, professionalism and humour which left all of us fortunate enough to be there on the day, looking forward to their next performance. The cast were;

John Paul McCartney

Aileen Crossan

Noleen McBrearty

Cathy Peoples,

Patrick McBrearty,

Clive Peoples,

Margaret Gillespie,

Suzanne Gillespie,

Clive Peoples,

Susan Crossan

The performance was part of ‘Youth fest’, the first Youth Theatre Festival for the North West which the organisers hope to continue as an annual event.

Well done to all who took part!

- Paula Leonard