SAINT JOSEPH’S CHURCH, CRAIGBANE lies along a glen between two mountain slopes. The spirit of of self help and co-operation begun in the 19th century is alive and well today.
Craigbane Church was built in 1822 at a cost of £200. It was at first a one storied rectangular building parallel to the road. The altar was against the side wall near what is now known as the ‘Women’s Door’. This was a wooden altar. Part of it is still in use as the Altar of Repose.
The church was built on Beresford's land - Beresford giving £20 and Robert Ogilby £10. Being unseated it was estimated to hold 500 people. The workmanship was poor. It had a clay floor.
The Parish Priest at the time was Father James McFeely, who was PP from 1794 to 1824. He is buried in Claudy churchyard.
There was a church prior to this near Frank Nicholas’ house and earlier still, one in Altahoney, where it is reported that about 100 years ago two church bells were unearthed. One was forwarded to Fr. Neil Devine PP Claudy and the other was said to have been buried again near where it was found.
A major renovation was done to Craigbane Church in 1888. This involved raising the roof, building the centre aisle and fitting the galleries. The altar was moved to where it is at present. This work was carried out by Deeny Brothers whose forebearers we are told came from Rathmullan or Fanad.
While the church was being repaired Mass was said in the open air at Frank Nicholas’ ‘Craig’. We are told that the late Fr Patrick Gormley who was reared at Glengarrow said that he served Mass in Craigbane at this time. He was ordained in 1897 and died in 1953. Apparently the people from his area attended Mass in Craigbane around the end of the last century.
The next repair of the church was undertaken in 1933 by Deeny Brothers and Andy Eakin from Ballyrory. This repair required some graves to be lifted and the remains reburied in a common grave. The walls outside and inside were replastered and mouldings fitted on the ceilings and walls. Stained glass windows were also fitted at this time. While all this was being done Mass was said in the Parochial Hall which had been built in about 1924. This building was originally intended for a turf shed but was converted into a hall.
The stone wall between the graveyard and the road was built in 1908 by John and Frank Kerlin of Altahoney. The cost was said to have been £20. In 1911 the bell was erected by John Deeny. A plaque on the side of it reads ‘This bell was erected by the bequests of Mr. James Gormley, Carnanbane, Miss Devine, Alla and Church subscriptions".
The first parochial house in Craigbane was built in 1912 at a cost of £500. The PP at the time was Fr Patrick O’Doherty.
Prior to 1904 all the curates in the parish lodged in Claudy. The first curate to lodge in Craigbane was Fr WilliamCassidy who stayed in the house where Mickey John Donaghy lived. The next curate was Fr John Cassidy who had lodgings in what is now ‘Deeny's Shop’ in Ballyrory. At that time it was a Public House. He was only in the parish about 3 months when he died and he is buried in his native Granaghan. Next came Fr Elliot who lodged at Gormley’s Shop in Carnanbane and then came Fr Michael Mullan who was in lodgings at Lynch’s of Lear until the parochial house was built.
In Carnanreagh there is an old graveyard named ‘Killcloicha’ (the stony graveyard) where the martyred monks of Donemana are said to have been buried. They were chased by Cromwellian soldiers and killed at the Glenrandal river crossing ‘Slaighted’ (or shrubbery) which was said to have been planted at the spot where they were killed.
Further revonations were carried out in Saint Joseph's Church in 1998. For a shorther history and details on the renovations....Click here
Saint Patrick's Church, 9, Church Street, Claudy BT47 4AA
Saint Joseph's Church, Slieveboy Road, Claudy, Co Derry BT47 4AS