The Parish changes, 1981-1990

Mrs Lena MacRory provided the money for a statue of Our Lady for the Church in Harryville.  It was purchased and transported from Dublin by car.

During 1981 expensive repair work replacing lead in all the roof valleys and gutters of the Parochial Hall had to be carried out.  Electrical wiring of All Saints was in an unsafe condition and had to be replaced.  A new side entrance incorporating a toilet block and new confessionals was built at the side of All Saints.

New fencing and a new car park helped to enhance the Church at Harryville.  This was made possible by the Will of the late Jack O’Hara.  He left his farm and new house to the Church. 

Monsignor Tumelty believed that some permanent memorial should be made to Jack and with the agreement of his wife this scheme began.

On 7 March the parish was in deep distress at the untimely death of one of the curates – Fr Fergus Jordan.  He had been very involved in the mission work of the Apostolic Work and accepted an invitation to accompany a group visiting Missions in West Africa.  When he returned he complained of feeling feverish.  He was treated with antibiotics, but failed to improve.  It was suspected that he had contracted Malaria and was sent to the fever hospital at Belvoir Park, Belfast.  Finally it was confirmed that he was suffering from cancer of the liver – some thought that the cancer had been triggered off by the Malaria.


Under reforms of the Second Vatican Council lay people began to participate in the liturgical readings.  The reforms suggested all liturgical readings should be made from a special stand called an Ambo.  Most churches erected this ambo close to the altar and as a result existing pulpits outside the sanctuary became unused.

In All Saints’ Church the original siting of the pulpit restricted the movement along the altar rails near the Sacred Heart altar.  Monsignor Tumelty  approached several architects and specialists about the proposal to transfer it, but no one would take the responsibility.  He was assured that it could not be taken down without breaking it.

Monsignor Tumelty was a determined man and a man of many talents.  He contacted the local monumental stone worker – Stephen J Gallagher and together they took it down.  They reduced it in size and put it inside the Sanctuary as an Ambo.

Monsignor Tumelty described this feat as ‘a modest success’.  During the reconstruction of the Sanctuary the altar was brought forward.

On 6 April 1982 Fr Martin Donaldson who had been sent to replace Fr Jordan celebrated his Month’s Mind Mass.

The Parish Covenant Scheme was initiated.  It was hoped to be able to claim back part of tax paid by parishioners.

The death took place on 2 November 1982 of Fr Alex Darragh who for many years had been curate in the parish.  He had been widely known for his interest in the youth.  He took part in many sporting activities and established the Boxing Club in the old primary school building.  He had been Parish Priest of St Malachy’s Parish in Belfast.

Communication was becoming more important so Monsignor Tumelty decided to have a new telephone system and answering machine installed in the Curates’ house.

On 10 January 1983 Fr Felix McLaughlin who had been curate for many years in the parish was transferred to St Paul’s Parish in Belfast.  He was replaced on 2 February by Fr Hugh J O’Hagan, who had been a classmate of Fr Jordan and had been the chief celebrant at his funeral.  He was a native of Kilcoo Parish in Co Down and had been transferred from Kilkeel in Co Down.

The interior of All Saints’ Church had been replastered in Canon McLister’s time.  Yellow colouring had been introduced into the plaster to give the appearance of natural stone.  In time stains had appeared and the walls had a blotched appearance.  Monsignor Tumelty decided to risk painting with emulsion paint.  To try to keep the appearance of stone, rollers were used so as not to fill in and obscure the lines in the plaster.  Around the same time a new heating system was installed in the Parochial Hall.

On 5 July Monsignor Tumelty completed the formalities for the purchase of ‘Kenbaan House’, 13 Broughshane Road for the parish.  ‘Kenbaan’  had been built in 1886 for James McAllister and family.  It had been called after the McAllister Castle on the Antrim Coast.



It had recently been owned and occupied by Mr and Mrs John O’Mullan and family.  On the death of Mr O’Mullan his wife decided that the house was too big and offered it for sale.

The former home of the McGarry family,  5 Market Road, which had been purchased by Dean McGrattan and was used as a Catholic Marriage Counselling Centre was too small for the purpose so it was sold – it returned to the McGarry family in the person of Donal Killough, a nephew of Fr Brendan and Fr Patsy McGarry.

In September 1983 the parish had another unexpected change when Fr Martin Donaldson, who had been in Ballymena for a very short time,  was appointed to the position of Religious Education Advisor to the Catholic schools in the Diocese.

Monsignor Tumelty had great vision.  He decided to hand ‘Kenbaan’ over to the Diocesan Marriage Advisory Service as their centre for the Connor Diocese.  In December 1983 Bishop Anthony Farquhar, Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese visited the Parish, celebrated the twelve noon Mass and then went to ‘Kenbaan’ to bless the premises and to meet the officers of the Marriage Advisory Service.

The ACE Scheme, All Saints’ Community Service, had been approved for the parish.  It was hoped it would employ four people, eventually eight, on works of a public nature in the parish.  Monsignor Tumelty proposed to use the ACE workers to reconstruct the outside offices and stables of ‘Kenbaan’ house as accommodation for the Scouts and Girl Guides.

Repairs had to be carried out on the copper panels on the roof of the Tower of Crebilly Church.  It had been discovered that they were cracked and damp had caused a lot of damage.

On 2 February 1984 Monsignor Tumelty underwent major cardiac surgery in the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast.  The Surgeon, Mr Jack Cleland, was a past pupil of Monsignor Tumelty when he had been on the teaching staff of St Malachy’s College in Belfast.  The operation involved four by-passes, using veins of the legs, and the fitting of a plastic valve, called a St Jude valve, to the Aortic artery where it leaves the heart.  Monsignor Tumelty left hospital on 24 February for recuperation before was returning to the parish.

On Ash Wednesday it was announced that the Bishop had allowed the introduction of Communion in the hand, except for children.  This caused a lot of disquiet.  Later the Irish Bishops allowed the introduction of the Sunday Vigil Mass on Saturday evening.  This satisfied the Sunday obligation.  In Ballymena Mass times were changed and the Vigil Mass was introduced at 7 30pm on Saturday evening in All Saints Church.

On 20 August 1984 the parishioners heard that Fr William McKeever, who had been curate in the parish for twelve years, had been made Parish Priest of Glenarm.  He was being replaced in Harryville by Fr Dallan Dargan who had been curate in St Paul’s, Belfast.

On Friday 14 September 1984 celebrations were held to mark the Silver Jubilee of St Patrick’s High School.  Pupils, staff and guests attended an Episcopal Mass celebrated in All Saints’ Church.

The Principal Celebrant at the Mass was Most Rev Dr Anthony Farquhar, Auxiliary Bishop of Down and Conor.  The First Concelebrant was Rt Rev Monsignor WB Tumelty PP VF EV and the Second Concelebrant was Very Reverend Father K Donnelly PP.  Master of Ceremonies was Rev Father S McBrearty CC and the Choir Mistress was Miss B Bryne.

Staff, clergy and guests then made their way to the school where they enjoyed a delicious lunch.

Later in the month many past pupils and past staff joined present staff to dance the night away at the Twenty-fifth Reunion Supper Dance.  This was held in Tullyglass House Hotel and the very entertaining music was provided by the band ‘Idaho’.

St Louis Grammar School had gone through a very extensive expansion.

The first Diocesan Assembly of priests took place in Garron Tower from 23-28 June 1985.  The priests were mainly all resident there during this week – this was a shock for parishioners of the Diocese!

On 4 August 1985, at each of the Masses, parishioners were asked to list their personal details on cards provided.  This was to enable the preparation of a Parish Database.

A Special Church Door Collection was taken up on 10 November for Willie Agnew who was retiring from the position of Sexton after twenty five years.  At the annual Christmas Dinner for elderly members of the parish Monsignor Tumelty presented a very substantial cheque to Willie Agnew in appreciation of his service to the Parish and the Priests.

On 26 January 1986 the old Parochial House was demolished.  It had been built by Fr Bernard McAuley in 1828.  For a time it had been a substantial building but lacked many of the essentials of modern living.  When the priests moved out, it had been given to the sexton and the Agnew family had occupied it for over twenty years. 

Later in the year a new pedestrian entrance to All Saints from the Cushendall Road was opened.  The two pillars which support the new gate were the entrance to the old church built by Fr Bernard McAuley.  The space between them was built up and a small gate had been made for the convenience of the Agnew family. 

This was removed and the space opened to form a new entrance.  Monsignor Tumelty believed it was important to retain a link with the past so the steps were made from the stones removed from the old parochial house.



In July 1986 parishoners were shocked to hear that The Church of Our Lady in Harryville had been vandalised with sectarian slogans being painted on the walls.  Two men admitted causing the criminal damage and duly appeared in court.

Great tragedy struck the parish when, in the early hours of 16 August, the Parochial Hall, which occupied a magnificent site on the Cushendall Road, was destroyed in a fire.

The parish was affected by the annual clerical changes.  Fr Luke McWilliams was transferred to the Royal Group of Hospitals as Chaplain.  Fr Denis McKinlay, who had been curate in Dunloy was transferred to the parish.  He had been involved with the Catholic Marriage Counselling Service in ‘Kenbaan’ and took over as Director for the Diocese of Connor.

An International Day of Peace was held at Assisi on 27 October.  The Pope met to fast and pray with all the leaders of the major religions of the world.

Early in 1987 the Sacristy Door of All Saints was forced and two Shrines were broken into and seriously damaged.

With the loss of the Parochial Hall through fire Monsignor Tumelty decided to provide two Conference rooms in ‘Kenbaan’.  This was done by removing the wall and fireplaces between the rooms on the ground floor.  The work had to be carried up to the first floor and to the roof, including the chimney stack.  In the main Conference room mouldings were replaced and new flooring and curtains provided.  During this work dry rot was discovered in the roof timbers and the house had to be re-roofed.

The Parish Laity group published a new Parish Directory which provided information on times of Mass and Confession.  It also provided information on each of the parish organisations.  Monsignor Tumelty wrote the Preface.

The Parish Directory also contained an article ‘Lynch’s Folly’ written by Mr Jack McCann.  To read the article click here

By the end of 1987 successful playgroups, providing nursery school provision for the Parish,  had been established at St Louis and in ‘Kenbaan’.

The year 1987 ended on a very sad note.  On Christmas Eve someone broke into Crebilly Chapel through a window, stripped cloths from the altar and then used them and a chair to try to start a fire at the rear of the church.  On 28 December someone entered the Church of Our Lady, Mother of the Church at Harryville and set fire to the door leading to the Sanctuary.  The door and part of the surrounding floor was scorch damaged.

Early in 1988 the double garage attached to ‘Kenbaan’ was leased to the St Vincent de Paul Society.  It was converted and opened as a Thrift Shop which was blessed by Bishop Farquhar when he visited the Parish for Confirmation.

The vandalism which had occurred at the end of last year necessitated security measures being taken at all the Churches in the parish.

There was much progress in modern communications and on Sunday 17 April Morning Mass from All Saints was broadcast by Radio Ulster.

In December one of the local papers carried photographs of the demolition of the old black stone schoolhouse built in 1861 by Fr Lynch.  



On 22 January 1989 parishioners heard that Fr Dallan Dargan had been appointed Parish Priest of St Olive Plunkett Parish in Belfast.  The new curate was Fr Paul Alexander who had been working in Africa with the St Patrick’s Society, Kiltegan.  His appointment was on a temporary basis.

On 18 June Monsignor Tumelty celebrated the Golden Jubilee of his Ordination in Maynooth.  On 19 June Golden Jubilee Celebrations were held in All Saints.

There was great excitement in the Parish on 3 July when Bishop C B Daly came to the Parish to officially open the new Youth Centre.  Mass was celebrated in All Saints’ Church and the Bishop went in Procession to the Youth Centre.  All attending were catered for by Mr Pat Falls and the staff of the Leighinmohr Hotel.

There was further excitement in the Parish on 9 July with the Ordination to the Priesthood of David Delargy from the Broughshane Road.

On 15 December parishioners heard that Fr Hugh J O’Hagan had been appointed Parish Priest of Ballyclare.  The new curate was to be Fr John Murray.

On 22 April 1990 Morning Mass was broadcast from the Church of Our Lady, Mother of the Church in Harryville.

Catholics throughout Ireland were shocked and saddened to hear of the sudden death of Cardinal O’Fiach while on pilgrimage to Lourdes.

The new Youth Centre was the venue for the annual Mass for the Anointing of the Sick.  Catering was provided for all those who attended.

July was a month of celebration in the Parish.  On 8 July Patrick Casey of Liminary was ordained to the Priesthood in The Church of Our Lady, Mother of the Church, Harryville.  Then on 22 July Bishop Daly came to the Parish for the Final Profession of Sister Frances Kelly, Broughshane Road.  Sister Frances joined the St Louis Sisters.

Later that evening parishioners heard the shocking news that one of the cars taking visiting Sisters back to Monaghan had been caught in a bomb explosion at the border.  One of the Sisters was killed.

Monsignor Tumelty decided to retire as Parish Priest and became a curate of the Parish.  As a Pastor Emeritus he went to live in the residence at Harryville.  On 16 August Fr Raymund Fitzpatrick was appointed Canon and Parish Priest of Ballymena.  Fr Paul Alexander left Harryville to become curate of Corpus Christi Parish, Belfast.

The first Diocesan Newspaper, ‘The Down and Connor Herald’ went on sale on 26 November 1990.  It was to be a monthly publication.  One of the parishioners of Ballymena, Breda Waterson, was one of the Editors on the newspaper.

An announcement was made on 10 December that Bishop C B Daly was to be appointed Archbishop of Armagh.  He was installed on 16 December and parishioners from the Parish attended.  Bishop Patrick Walsh was appointed by the Diocesan Consulters as Diocesan Administrator until our new diocesan bishop was appointed.