St Augustine's Church, Swanlinbar

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Kilmore Diocese of the Church of Ireland
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Swanlinbar Village

Swanlinbar village is situated in the northwest of County Cavan, near the Fermanagh border & 8 miles (N.W.) of Ballyconnell. It lies in a broad valley between the Cuilcagh (667 Metres), (2188 feet) and the Slieve Russel mountains (404 Metres), (1325 feet). The surrounding countryside is tranquil and beautiful, and is intersected by two rivers, the Cladagh and the Blackwater. Such rivers give opportunity to would-be fisherman.

The village of Swanlinbar gets its name from four men who owned the once prosperous iron mine in the neighbouring mountain of Cuilcagh. Their names were Swift, Saunders, Finn and Barr. Two letters were taken from each of their names, and at first the village was known as 'Swadlingbar'. At a later date the letter 'D' was replaced by 'N', the `G' was also dropped, giving it the name we know today.

During the 18th Century, Swanlinbar was famous for its spas. The spas, mineral water springs, were located at Mullan, Gortoral and Drumod, and are still present today. Nowadays, the Maguire family maintain the Drumod spa, however, the other spas are in poor condition. During the 18th Century, these spas attracted hundreds of visitors from the wealthier classes, who came to drink the water. There is said to have been a hotel at the Gortoral spa, where some of the visitors stayed. The hotel's surrounding grounds were attractively laid out in gardens, where the visitors could stroll after drinking the water.
According to the `Gazette of Ireland', the spa water was,
"...excellent for scurvy, nerves, low spirits and bad appetite. They are to be drank as the stomach can bear them. You go to bed at 10 o'clock without supper. In the morning you go to the well at 6 o'clock, drink 'till 9 o'clock, taking constant exercise, and breakfast a little after 10 o'clock. At 1 o'clock you return to the well and drink two or three glasses, returning to the hotel at 3 o'clock to dress for dinner at 4 o'clock. You have to be temperate in wine and drink as little Chinese tea as possible".

You would certainly require a good capacity for drinking fluids, if you were to endure the above for a week!

In 1786 a considerable part of the town was destroyed by an accidental fire, which consumed 22 houses.

In former years, Swanlinbar belonged to Kinawley Parish. An old Minutes Book' of Kinawley and Holy Trinity mentions a Chapel of Ease at Swanlinbar, as early at 1610. The Parish Church was located at Callowhill on the way to Ballyconnell. All that remains of this building are three walls. There are some very old headstones in the cemetery, belonging to both Protestants and Roman Catholics. This Church became too small for the growing congregation, and in 1825, there was a new Church built at Cloghan, near the village of Derrylin. The 'Minutes Book' suggested that the Rector, the Rev. John James Fox, did not live at Derrylin, however he employed two curates to run the parish.

Places of Worship in Swanlinbar

There were four places of worship in Swanlinbar; a Roman Catholic Chapel, a Primitive Methodist, a Wesleyan Methodist and St. Augustines', Church of Ireland. The Roman Catholic Chapel is said to have been built around 1850. Unfortunately a bomb destroyed the Chapel during the early 1970's, therefore a new one was built. This is of modem design, and was opened in 1978. The Primitive Methodists had their meetings in "Ben View", but later joined the Wesleyan Methodists. Ben View is now a private residence. The Methodist Church was built around 1840, it was a small building which stood the test of time very well. The Methodists owned a lot of the houses in Swanlinbar, and Mr. Richard Howe gave ground to build a Manse for the resident preacher in 1890. As the Methodist congregation declined, there was no need for a resident preacher, so the Manse was sold in the 1960's. The services continued until eventually the Church had to be sold in 1997. St. Augustines' Church of Ireland is now the oldest building in Swanlinbar. It was opened on 19th June, 1849, as a Chapel of Ease for Kinawley Parish, replacing a thatched building.

The Parish

In 1863, Swanlinbar became a separate parish as it is today. It lies partly in County Cavan and partly in County Fermanagh and includes the village of Kinawley. There was a rectory built a short distance from the Church, which has seen many changes, and is still occupied today.

Swanlinbar Rectory with Canon Robert Keogh on the driveway.


A school was also built across the road from the Church, with living accommodation for a teacher at one end. In later years the living quarters were no longer required so this area was added to the school to make it larger. As the school consisted of one large room with a platform at one end, it was also used as a Church hall. Around 1915-16 Miss Gutherie was the schoolteacher and later, Mr. Fred Sheriff from Trivia House became teacher. In 1923 Miss Rosina Milliken came as teacher, and some years later married Mr. John Good. She continued to teach in Swanlinbar until the school was closed in 1962 due to the lack of pupils. Those children remaining went to Ballyconnell School where transport had to be provided for them. Around 1937 the platform was removed from the school, and a new kitchen was built on to the back of the hall, making a larger and more useful hall.

The School <Photograph>


St. Augustines' Church

When St. Augustines' Church was built, it could accommodate a congregation of 250 people. Over the years the congregation declined, so the Select Vestry decided to take away some of the pews beneath the gallery. The area was enclosed to make two rooms. One of these rooms is now used as a vestry while the other is a store room for cleaning materials. This work was carried out by Mr. Thomas Hicks, Moneenbane and Mr. William Hassard, Borim. The present day vestry is also used as a Sunday School room and part of the store room has now been converted into a toilet by Mr. Raymond Wilson.

Church Heating
St. Augustines' Church was originally heated by a furnace below the aisle. There was a grating which allowed the heat to come up from the flu, this ran under the aisle to a small vestry, which also had a stove. In order to have the Church heated for the Sunday morning service, the fire had to be ignited on Saturday night with lots of fuel added to keep it burning all night, so the Church was heated in time for the morning service. The sexton, Mr. John Kerr, had to go down steps to reach the furnace, where he then used a large shovel to put the coal on the fire. At the time the Church was built, it was probably turf that was used as fuel. As well as being the sexton, John also cleaned the Church and was the gravedigger.

Years later a stove was installed in the aisle, this was a good source of heat, but tended to be an obstruction when a wedding or a funeral was taking place. When electricity reached Swanlinbar, electric heaters were put on the walls, and large gas heaters were used. They were satisfactory, however they needed to be alight for quite a length of time in order to heat the Church. After some years the Select Vestry decided to install oil 'blow' heating. This present system heats the Church quickly and, having a timer, is more convenient as it can be set to switch itself on and off. Mr. Raymond Wilson installed the oil `blow' heating system in 1992.

The Grounds and Church
Two copper beech trees were planted in the graveyard around the time the Church was built. The trees grew so large that they could be seen from miles around, however, they became a danger to the Church and the roots were interfering with some of the graves. The Select Vestry decided to have the trees cut in 1950. Robert Humphrey and Robert Pennell cut them assisted by William and Andrew Smyth. One was sold and the other given to the Rector, the Rev. R. J. Doonan for firewood.

The interior of St. Augustines' Church needed to be decorated, which was completed at a cost of £650, and St. Paul's Church, Kinawley was decorated at a cost of £275. Later, St. Augustines' Church required a new roof so major fund raising had to be carried out. Letters were written to past and present parishioners concerning the repairs required to the Church. Waste paper was collected and brought to Lisburn free of charge, by Mr. David Armstrong, Florencecourt, making £169.30. There were `sales of work', sports and sponsored walks held. Altogether, there was a substantial sum of money collected and the Church was able to be roofed in 1979. It was rededicated in 1980. In 1980, the Rev. Jack Watson helped organise a concert in the Wonderland Hall, Bawnboy, inviting the Garda Band from Dublin. The concert was a great success, and the £3,000 raised was divided between the Church and the Chapel.

Service Times
In the past, the services in the parish Church were held at 11.30a.m. with Sunday school at 10.30a.m. which lasted for 45 minutes, and an evening service was held at 6.30 p.m. The services in Kinawley were held at 3.00 p.m. with Sunday school at 2.30 p.m. In those days there were many children in the congregation.

In 1957 Templeport Parish was amalgamated with Swanlinbar, as a result, the service times had to be changed. St. Augustines' Sunday service was held at 10.30 a.m. and St. Peter's, Templeport, was held at 12 noon on alternate Sundays, and St. Paul's remained at 3.00 p.m.

In 1990 Tomeragan, Ballyconnell, was also amalgamated with Swanlinbar Parish, again, as a result service times needed to be changed. All the parishioners wanted a morning service, so Swanlinbar and Kinawley agreed to have their morning service at 10.00 a.m. on alternate Sundays; Tomeragan and Templeport also agreed to have their services at 11.30 a.m. and 12.45 p.m. on alternate Sundays.

Landlords who have Property in Swanlinbar Parish

The following is a list of landlords who have property in Swanlinbar Parish taken from the Church of Ireland Gazette in 1800:

The Rt. Hon. Earl of Enniskillen, Florencecourt. The Rt. Hon. Earl of Erne J.P., Crom Castle. Parson Crofter, Esq.
Francis J. Graham Esq., J.P., Drumgoon, Maguiresbridge. Albert Hutton Esq., Rockwood House, Swanlinbar.
Richard Hassard Esq., C.E., Westminster Chambers, London. Robert Hassard Esq., D.C., Stradone, Co. Cavan. George Reynell Gressan, Esq.
Thomas Singleton Esq., D.C., Singleton, Emyvale, Co. Monaghan. Mr. Magee, Tully House, Killashandra, Co. Cavan. A.W.N. Pyntrell Esq., Peak Cottage, Devonshire, England.
Extracts from the Church of Ireland Gazette
In 1891 the Parish Church closed for repairs for two months. It re-opened on Sunday 12th July, 1891, at a special anniversary service, the preacher was the Rector Rev. John McKnight. There were over three hundred people in the congregation.

The Church was painted in grey, with a dado rail, and pretty stencilling that added much to the appearance. The pulpit was modernised and the seats stained and varnished.

Also at this time Stragowna School had undergone repairs. The old clay flagged floor had been replaced by boards, the walls distempered, and the seating accommodation improved. It was re-opened on the afternoon of Sunday 12`h July, 1891, at 4pm.

Old minute book
A meeting held by special request of the Bishop to consider the state of the parochial sustentation fund, before a clergyman could be appointed. Rev. Frazer Whelan, Curate, in the chair. Rev. Dr. Hutchinson as a deputation from the Bishop, proposed at the meeting that a subscription of £5 yearly should be paid. Mr. Montgomery promised £5 a year and Dr. Hope £2 a year. Parishioners at the meeting were: Mr. William Pennell delegate, Messrs J. Wallace, F. Crawford, Church wardens. Dr. Hope, Edward Walmsley, Robert Maynes, James Brown of Crummer, James Hill, Henry Tubman, James Kerr, Robert Coulter, John Kerr, Thomas Pennell, George Scales, P.S. Clark, James Maynes, Thomas Crawford, Tiermoonan, William Cullen, F. Humphreys, Kinawley, John and Andrew Crawford, Mullaghgarrow, William Randles, William Reynolds, Borim, John Hassard, Robin Veitch, Andrew Trimble, Killaduff, James Hanna, Andrew Howden, Gerard Anderson, J. Noble, William Crawford, (The Hill), William Crawford, jnr. Kinawley.
Easter Vestry 1916 held on Monday 24th April at 6 pm
Rector Rev. H.W. Shire
Rector's Church Warden George Tubman
People's Church Warden Robert Monaghan
Treasurer Mr. Thomas Elliott
Secretary Mr. Robert Maynes

Select Vestry Messrs:- William Hicks, Alex Elliott, R.E.S. Johnson B.A., D. Thompson, Thos. Elliott, Thomas Trimble, John Johnson, Thomas Smith, Alex Hassard, T. Trimble, Drumcask, R. Crawford, J.H. Crawford.

Sides men Messrs. John Johnson, James Crawford, Matt Pennell, Richard Johnston, Thomas Trimble, Drumcask.
The Bishop visited Swanlinbar Parish on February l st for a morning service. He dedicated the Holy Table which had been presented to the Church by Mr. James Kerr, in memory of his brother, Corporal Alex Kerr, 8 Battalion Canadian Infantry, who was killed in action in France on August 9th 1918. The Bishop preached a sermon suitable to the occasion, taking for his text Exodus xii v.26. The Bishop was assisted by the Very Rev. Dean Finlay, and the Rector, Rev. H.W. Shire. The Bishop also preached at the afternoon service in Kinawley Hall.


Vestry Members
1935 Rector G.A. Milligan,
Rector's Church Warden Robert Crozier,
People's Church Warden Alex Hassard,
Treasurer J. Kerr,
Assistant Treasurer J. Kennedy,
Secretary G. Scales
Select Vestry Messrs. R.S.L. Hutton, T. Graham, W. Hassard, Thomas Crawford, R. Johnston, J.H. Crawford, T. Hicks, G. Breen, E. Breen, T. Elliott, T. Smith, G. Scales and J. Kennedy.
1948 Select Vestry Messrs. Robert Hassard, William Howden, Alex Hassard, Thomas Hicks, John Smyth, Robert Humphries, Richard Johnston, Robert Crawford, Victor Trimble and William H. Hicks.
1958 Select Vestry Messrs. R. Pennell, D. Johnston, W. Hamilton, V. Trimble, T. Hicks, W. Hassard, T. Clements, T. Graham, N. Crawford, W. Crawford, G. Veitch, W. Howden, T. Crawford and H. Scales (Treasurer).
1967 Select Vestry Messrs. Thomas Clements, William Hassard, Thomas Fisher, Andrew Smyth, William Crawford, Mackey Breen, James Wilson, Thomas Graham, William Hamilton, Richard Johnston, Walter Crawford and Stanley Moffitt.
1971 Select Vestry Messrs. James Wilson, Thomas Graham, Will Crawford, Thomas Hicks, William Hamilton, Thomas Hicks (Culkey), George Burleigh, Mackey Breen, Thomas. Fisher, Stanley Moffitt, William Smyth and Mervyn Gould.
1978 Select Vestry; Messrs. William Hamilton, Thomas Clements, William Storey, Ernest Breen, Mackey Breen, Bob Dunne, Raymond Wilson, Thomas Graham, Mrs. Ida Smyth, Mrs Eileen Moffitt, Mrs. Alice Gould, Stanley Moffitt (secretary) and Hazel Crawford (Treasurer).
1986 -'87 Select Vestry Messrs. George Graham, Robert Dunne, Bob Dunne, Thomas Fisher, Leslie Wilson, William Smyth, Mackey & Ernest Breen, Abraham Veitch, Mervyn Gould, William Hassard, William Storey, Stanley Moffitt and Miss Hazel Crawford.
1996 -'97   St. Augustines' Church St. Paul's Church
  Rector's Church Warden Leslie Wilson Abraham Veitch
  People's Church Warden Ivan Stubbs George Graham
  Select Vestry Ernest Breen, Alice Gould, Cecil Crawford, Mervyn Gould, Hazel Crawford, Alan Gould, Robert Dunne (Senior), Stanley Moffitt, Thomas Fisher, William Storey, Mary Thornton and Noel Storey.


Clergy in Swanlinbar Parish in the Last One Hundred and Fifty Years
Name of Clergy Type
1807 - 1844
Rev. William Gratton 37 years Curate
1843 - 1853
Rev. Archibold Crawford Curate
1854 - 1856
Rev. John Johnston Eagan Curate
Rev. Mathew Lawder Curate
1875 - 1877
Rev. Frazer Whelan Curate
1877 - 1880
Rev. Thomas Fussell Rector
1880 - 1888
Rev. William Handbury Rector
1888 - 1894
Rev. John McKnight Rector
1895 - 1905
Rev. Thomas Torrence Rector
1906 - 1909
Rev. Ernest Alfred Killingley Rector
1910 - 1913
Rev. William Thomas Stewart Rector
1913 - 1924
Rev. Henry William Shire Rector
1924 - 1925
Rev. John Warren Rector
1925 - 1927
Rev. Charles Fredrick Carroll Rector
1928 - 1929
Rev. Thomas Percival Rose Rector
1929 - 1931
Rev. James Pontyz 1928 - 1929 Rector
1932 - 1939
Rev. George Milligan Rector
1939 - 1944
Rev. Robert Ernest Trenier Rector
1944 - 1950
Rev. Robert John Doonan Rector
1951 - 1956
Rev. John Richard Wheelock Rector
1956 - 1957
Rev. Canon H.I.K. Anderson In charge during vacancy Canon
1957 - 1962
Rev. Cecil Armstrong Rector 
1962 - 1963
Rev. Canon H.I.K. Anderson In charge during vacancy Canon 
1963 - 1965
Rev. Derek Cecil Dunwoody Bishop's Curate 
1965 - 1969
Rev. George Kingston Rector 
1970 - 1973
Rev. Derek Johnston Rector Rector 
1973 - 1982
Rev. John R. Watson Rector Rector 
1982 - 1990
Rev. Canon Jim Sides In charge during vacancy Canon 
1982 - 1983
Rev. George Kingston Retired during vacancy work Rector
Rev. Dean Clements In Charge during March - September 1983 Dean
1988 - 1989
Rev. Dean Maurice Talbot In Charge during vacancy July 1988 - May 1989 Dean 
  Services taken by Retired Clergymen: Rev. Ralph and Rev. Canon Wheelock; Divinity Students: Mr. David Ferry, Mrs. Martha Greystack and Mr. David Bell, during the Summer months; Lay Readers: Mr. Noel Regan, Mr. George Brown and
Mrs. Hazel Hicks, Mr. Donald Walker
Oct 1990 - 2002
Rev. Robert Keogh (Made a Canon of St. Fethlimidh's Cathedral, Kilmore on 1st November 1998.) Rector 
2002 - 2004
Services taken by Retired Clergymen & Lay readers  
Aug 2004 -
Geoff Wilson  


Repairs on St. Augustines' Church

In 1996 a long programme of works was carried out on St. Augustines' Church. Sandblasting of the stone has given the Church the same fresh appearance that it must have had when it was built. The sandblasting and extensive repairs to the tower were carried out by David Stubbs Contractor. The walls around the graveyard have been rebuilt by F.A.S., which greatly helps the overall appearance.

In 1998 the inside of the Church was painted by Mr. Barrie Hicks and all the woodwork has been stained. The Church was reopened for services on Christmas Day 1998.

We hope to have a special service on 20th June, 1999. It will be a service of Thanksgiving for all God's mercy and care during the past one hundred and fifty years.    < Do we have any updates, did it happen and who took the service etc.? > < Are there any photos, 'Before and after' ? >



All the information in this section and on the memorials page was taken from the booklet
Swanlinbar Parish Church
St Augustines
1849 - 1999
published by Sarah E. Smyth, 1999

and is reproduced here with her permission

Acknowledgement from book
My thanks to all who helped to make this booklet possible:
• The Librarian of R.C.B. Dublin Library - Susan Hood
• Rev. George Davison
• Rev. Canon Robin Richey
• Rev. Canon Robert Keogh
• Mr. & Mrs. Stanley Moffitt
• Mrs. Alice Gould
• Miss Barbara Gould
• Mr. Peter Barnfield
• Mrs. Brigid Lenane

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