READING Annagh Magazine’s wealth

Staying In
Image from Annagh 2009 Magazine

Plenty to savour in Annagh Magazine

Local Chronicle
Daniel Carey

THERE’S a photograph in the 2009 Annagh Magazine featuring three men from Ballyhaunis at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Last September, James Mulrennan, John Prenty and Brian Kilcourse climbed Africa’s highest peak to raise funds for the Irish charity Bóthar, and all three are pictured at the base of the mountain – holding a copy of last year’s Annagh Magazine.
The annual parish magazine has become part of the staple winter-reading diet for those in and around Ballyhaunis, and the range of material covered in this year’s publication is breath-taking. Local community and sporting organisations look back on what 2009 involved for them. There are some nostalgic trips down memory lane, and photographs to beat the band – old and new, of young and old. And the competition inviting readers to take pictures of themselves reading Annagh Magazine anywhere in the world has clearly captured the imagination, if the image that accompanies James Mulrennan’s account of his mountain-climb is any indicator!
The 140-page magazine opens with Mike Byrne’s comprehensive round-up of the first ten months of the year, while Canon Joseph Cooney, PP, details the history of St Patrick’s Church, which celebrated its centenary in 2009. He notes that when Canon Joseph Canning was told in 1894 by Archbishop McEvilly that he would have to build a house, a school, a convent and a church, ‘it is said that he fled’! But he ‘was persuaded to return and assured that it didn’t all have to be done at once’.
Reflecting on the laying of a blocked floor in 1961, the parish priest notes: “It may be just as well that the late Fr Rushe is not around today to see the re-emergence of stiletto heels on which he waged unrelenting war!” The article is accompanied by a ‘team photograph’ of all the men of the cloth who concelebrated the centenary Mass – 19 in total, including the Archbishop of Tuam, Dr Michael Neary.
Jimmy Cribbin covers a large number of topics in his article. He touches on the history of eircom, noting: “The phone company is up for sale again for the fifth time … would you buy a yoke that had five previous owners?” And he offers his take on the departed Celtic tiger – or should that be Celtic cuckoo – ‘who arrived with great publicity shouting his name from tree-tops, exploited others by laying its eggs in borrowed nests, and getting naïve foster parents to rear its young while their own perished’.
Noel Lyons takes us back to the Knox Street of his youth – from John Gilmore’s yard (“our eighth wonder of the world”) to the Johnstons’ modes of transport – ‘a four-wheeled trap-like contraption with rubber tyres drawn by a pony’, followed by ‘a Ford 14.9 with the accelerator on the steering wheel’. He recalls battles on the hill of the Fair Green between the young lads of Knox Street and Upper Main Street, where James Lyons ‘was our Cúchulainn’ and Jimmy McArdle ‘their Ferdia’.
The nine-strong editorial committee (Joe Keane, Jim Lundon, Paul Waldron, Sinéad Freyne, Maisin Meath, Martin Forde, Seamus Mulrennan, Maura Griffin and John Halpin) have clearly cast their net wide. Ballyhaunis man Vincent Keane, president of a community health care centre in Washington DC, gives an account of life in Obama’s America. Paddy Waldron looks back on the winter of 1963, when he worked on London’s tallest building during the so-called ‘Big Freeze’. Ted Maughan details the life of a travelling tinsmith in his own words, and Sister Helen Regan’s work among the poor in Brazil is given prominence.
Photographs are dotted throughout, perhaps none more evocative than a shot of Patrick O’Reilly standing in the doorway of his shop at Main Street. There are shots of reunions, old school classes, weddings from both recent months and yesteryear. Truly, all human life is here.
Annagh Magazine is available in outlets around Ballyhaunis and costs €10.