Issue 85 “UNION NEWS” March 2017

Dear Parishioner(s)

Ash Wednesday and Lent
On Ash Wednesday – 1st March – there will be a Service held in each of the churches:
Killucan 10.30 a.m.
Kilbixy 12.30 p.m.
Almoritia 5.00 p.m.
All Saints’ 7.30 p.m.
The season of Lent provides an opportunity for prayer and reflection as we prepare, over 40 days, for the great Christian celebration on Easter Day. I warmly commend the season of Lent to you. I hope parishioners will make a special effort to attend church in each of the churches on Ash Wednesday, and the other occasions between now and Easter Day.

March Whist Drive
The March Whist Drive will be held on Friday 3rd March at 8.30 p.m. in All Saints’. This will be the last Whist Drive in All Saints’ until November. The Whist Drive is always a most enjoyable occasion and everyone will be most welcome to attend.

Women’s World Day of Prayer
This is a very important international occasion and, like last year, we are going to hold a special Service which will be led and conducted by women from each of the four churches. The Service will be held on Sunday 5th March at 11.00 a.m. in All Saints’. This is a wonderful opportunity for us all to affirm the very important contribution women make to church life and also to the wider society. I hope men, along with women, will come in large numbers to show their affirmation and appreciation of all the good work that women do.

All Saints’ School Board of Management
A special Meeting of the School Board of Management will be held on Monday 6th March at 8.00 p.m. in the school.

Faith Forum
The next meeting of the Faith Forum will be held on Monday 13th March at 8p.m.in All Saints’. During our Year of Faith we have already had the opportunity of sharing special occasions together and at the next meeting the Forum will be discussing and agreeing further events. The Faith Forum is open to all members of the Parish and everyone will be most welcome.
St. Patrick’s Day
As is our custom, there will be a special Service held at 11.00 a.m. in All Saints’ on St. Patrick’s Day. The Senior Parish Choir will give an inspiring rendition of St. Patrick’s Breastplate. It is always a lovely experience to celebrate part of the National holiday in church. I look forward to welcoming everyone and of course the shamrock will be blessed and sprigs will be given out to everyone at the church Service.

Select Vestry
A meeting of the Select Vestry will be held on Tuesday 28th March at 8.00 p.m. in the Rectory.

CMS April Visit
A delegation from the Church Missionary Society will be visiting the Parish on the first weekend of April. We look forward to welcoming the Rev. Roger Thompson the CMS organiser, the Provost of All Saints’ Cathedral, Nairobi, Kenya, and the project worker of the Urban Renewal Programme which the Parish has supported for many years. We will be holding a special Service on their visit and further details will be available nearer to the time.

Privilege and Pleasure
During the month of March I have been invited to conduct a Lenten Retreat and also to speak at the Church 21 National Conference. I feel very honoured to have received these invitations and I will look forward to bringing the kind regards of the Parish to both events.

Bishop’s Visitation
The Bishop thoroughly enjoyed her pastoral visitation to the Parish on Monday 13th and Sunday 19th February. It was a delight to have her with us and I would like to thank everyone who helped make her visit so special.

Confirmation
The Bishop is planning to hold the Confirmation Service on Sunday 29th October in All Saints’ Church. This is somewhat later in the year than usual and the Confirmation Classes will commence in early September. However, I intend to have an introductory meeting with all the young people who will be going forward for Confirmation and would be very pleased if parents would let me know the names of those they wish to have prepared for Confirmation.

Holy Baptism
We welcomed into God’s family through baptism, Donnacha Richard John Leavy-O’Neill on Sunday 19th February. We pray for him, his parents and godparents as they continue their journey of faith.

Almoritia Bi-Centenary
The Bi-Centenary Service on Sunday 12th February was a truly inspiring occasion and the church was packed to overflowing. Bishop McDowell preached a wonderful sermon and the music was led by the Senior Parish Choir and organist Lesley Denniston. I would like to thank all the parishioners for their truly magnificent work in restoring this ecclesiastical gem. The Parish has a lovely future to look forward to. Following the Service a delicious luncheon was held in Cooney’s Hotel, Ballymahon.

Prayers for Young People
The Bishop has requested that prayers for young people would be offered at all churches in the Diocese on Sunday 26th February. We will be remembering all the young people in the Parish and warmly invite them to attend church for this important time of prayer for them.

Bereavement
We offer our deepest sympathy to Arie Gorissen, Jean and the family following the death of Arie’s father in Holland. Arie’s father passed away peacefully after a long illness and Arie’s loving care of him was a great comfort to his father. We pray that he will be safe in God’s presence.

We also offer our deepest sympathy to Rev. Trevor and Ann Holmes following the death of Trevor’s mother, Betty. Betty was a remarkable woman whose life touched her family and friends in so many special ways. Her inspiring goodness encouraged so many people to follow her example. We pray that Trevor, Ann, Trevor’s father and wider family, will be comforted by the assurance of God’s promise of eternal life and that Betty may now rest in peace.

Coffee Morning every Thursday from 10.30a.m – 1.30p.m in All Saints’
We warmly invite parishioners and friends to call in for a coffee and a chat in the very friendly atmosphere of All Saints’
Arthur and Marion O’ Toole provide delightful refreshments and this month all the donations will be given to Good To Talk Mullingar

Tiny Tots
The Tiny Tots continue to meet on Friday mornings 10am – 12 pm in All Saints’ during term time. It is lovely to meet the babies, small children and parents. Zoe Hales organises a most interesting programme. Do call in – you will be most welcome text Zoe on 0866052292

You may like to keep in touch with the Parish through the website and your family and friends may also like to have the web address. The address is www.mullingarunionofparishes.net. I encourage you to continue to look at the website and to also advise your family and friends about it.

Social Media
https://www.facebook.com/mullingarunionofparishes.net Keep up to date
on our Parish Facebook page or follow us on Twitter @MullingarUP

With God’s blessings,
Rev. Alastair Graham, Rector

The Rectory, Gaol’s Hill, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath.
Telephone No. 044-934 8376

Issue 84 “UNION NEWS” February 2017

Dear Parishioner(s)

Sundays in February
Every Sunday is an important day for Christians and we are blessed in our country to still have the freedom to attend church without being either fearful or worried. During this month there are some special Services which I hope will be very well attended.
Sunday 5th February – Patronal Festival Service- Killucan.
This Sunday at 11.30 a.m. will be the annual Patronal Festival Service at St. Etchen’s Killucan, 11.30 a.m. Every year parishes have the privilege of a special celebration on the day the church remembers the saint after which the church has been called. St. Etchen had a very influential ministry and we enjoy worshipping in a delightful church in Killucan. The preacher at our Patronal Festival this year is Canon Niall Sloane, who is Rector of Holy Trinity Church, Killiney, Dublin. I look forward to meeting all the parishioners of Killucan and hope everyone else will accept my invitation to come to Killucan on this special occasion.

Sunday 12th February – Bi- Centenary Service- Almoritia.
The Bi-Centenary Service at Almoritia will be held at 11.30 a.m. As you know, the church has been beautifully refurbished through the hard work of dedicated parishioners and the special preacher will be the Bishop of Clogher, Right Rev. John McDowell. After the Service lunch will be served in Cooney’s Hotel in Ballymahon. If you would like to join us for lunch please telephone Catherine Gibson Brabazon on 087-7461650. I hope that all the parishioners of Almoritia will attend along with parishioners from the other churches.

Sunday 19th February – Bishop’s Pastoral Visit.
Bishop Pat Storey will make a pastoral visit to the parish and has requested there to be just one united service in All Saints’ at 11a.m. We will hold a special Children’s Service but I hope parishioners from all the Churches will attend to welcome the Bishop. Following the service a Cake Sale organised by the Parents Council in aid of All Saints’ School will be held. On Monday 13th February a special coffee morning from 10.30a.m. to 12.30p.m will be held in All Saints’. The Bishop will be in attendance and looks forward to meeting parishioners.

Sunday 26th February- Prayers for young people.
The Bishop has requested that prayers be offered at all the Services for young people. I would like to invite the young people in the Parish to invite their parents and families to join them at church.

Principal of All Saints’ School
There was a wonderfully inspiring Service on Sunday 29th January in All Saints’ at the Service of Blessing for the new Principal of All Saints’ School, Mrs. Lesley Denniston. Those in the full church were treated to a beautiful sacred Service of song and word and all the children from the school behaved impeccably on this very important occasion for their Principal. Mrs. Denniston, in her address, inspired the entire congregation with her words and, in warmly welcoming her, we know that under her leadership the school will continue to be a very fine place for children to begin their education. Mrs. Denniston will continue to build on the firm foundation laid by her immediate predecessor, Mr. Pat Horan, and before him, Mrs. Olive Ray.

Whist Drives
The February Whist Drive will be held on this Friday 3rd February, at 8.30 p.m. and the March Whist Drive will be held on Friday 3rd March at 8.30 p.m. The Whist Drives will be held in All Saints’ and everyone is warmly invited to come to what is always a most enjoyable occasion.

Boys’ Brigade and Girls’ Association
The Brigade has begun its’ activities after the Christmas break and it is lovely to see, every week, the children having such wonderful fun under the supervision of such dedicated leaders. May I commend the BB and GB to all the families in the Parish and, if your children are not already involved, you might like to consider enrolling them.

Christian Liturgical Dance
Siobhan Murphy, our amazing choreographer, will hold dance rehearsals in All Saints’ on Sundays 12th, 19th and 26th February at 4.00 p.m. She looks forward to welcoming all boys and girls over the age of 8 who would like to take part.

Select Vestry
The Select Vestry will meet on Tuesday 7th February at 8.00 p.m. in the Rectory.

Women’s World Day of Prayer
This year women from all the four Parishes will be organising and conducting the church Service for the Women’s World Day of Prayer on Sunday 5th March at 11.00 a.m. The children will also be taking part through liturgical dance. I do hope this Service will be very well supported and I would like to thank all the women who will be organising the Service this year.

Parish Dance
It had been intended to hold the annual Parish Dance on Friday 17th February. However, due to the many events that are taking place, and the beginning of half-term in the schools, it has been decided to postpone the Parish Dance to a later date.

School Cake Sale
The All Saints’ School Cake Sale will take place on Sunday 19th February after the Children’s Service in All Saints’.
Faith Forum
The next meeting of the Faith Forum will be held in All Saints’ on Thursday 2nd March at 8.00 p.m. I warmly invite the members of the Forum to attend and also any other parishioners who would like to come.

All Saints’ Sunday School
The All Saints’ Sunday School will recommence following Christmas and New Year on Sunday 5th February at 10.00 a.m. in All Saints’. All children and their parents are most welcome to attend.

Bereavement
Last month we offered our sincere sympathy to the Mitchell family following the untimely death of Stewart Mitchell. A week after his funeral his dear mother, Birdie, passed away very peacefully at home and her funeral was held in All Saints’ on Monday 16th January. Birdie was one of the longest serving parishioners in the Parish and her presence and personality enriched and enhanced the lives of everyone who had the pleasure of being with her, particularly her own family. In offering our deepest sympathy to Sandra, Gráinne, Gareth, Andrew, Adam and the wide family circle and friends we pray that Birdie, now in the fuller presence of God may rest in peace.

We also offer our deepest sympathy to Rosanne Broderick and Mark Potterton and their families following the death of their uncle Charlie, in Roscommon. Charlie and the other members of the Clarke family have made a distinctive contribution to both the parishes and communities in which they resided. Charlie’s brother, Max Clarke, is still warmly remembered in our own Parish. In offering them our deepest sympathy, we pray that Charlie may rest in God’s loving presence. We also offer our sympathy to Jo and Billy Small following the death of Joe’s sister Bernie Kennedy who bore her illness with great courage and dignity. Bernie was a lovely person and devoted sister, mother and aunt and we pray that she may rest in peace in God’s presence.
Canon Lawrence
I would like to thank Canon Lawrence for his care of the Parish while I was away for a week in January.

Coffee Morning every Thursday from 10.30a.m – 1.30p.m in All Saints’
We warmly invite parishioners and friends to call in for a coffee and a chat in the very friendly atmosphere of All Saints’
Arthur and Marion O’ Toole provide delightful refreshments and this month all the donations will be given to St Vincent De Paul to support the good the Society undertakes.

Tiny Tots
The Tiny Tots continue to meet on Friday mornings 10am – 12 pm in All Saints’ during term time. It is lovely to meet the babies, small children and parents. Zoe Hales organises a most interesting programme. Do call in – you will be most welcome text Zoe on 0866052292

You may like to keep in touch with the Parish through the website and your family and friends may also like to have the web address. The address is www.mullingarunionofparishes.net. I encourage you to continue to look at the website and to also advise your family and friends about it.
Social Media
https://www.facebook.com/mullingarunionofparishes.net Keep up to date
on our Parish Facebook page or follow us on Twitter @MullingarUP

With God’s blessings,
Rev. Alastair Graham, Rector

The Rectory, Gaol’s Hill, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath.
Telephone No. 044-934 8376 

Issue 83 “UNION NEWS” January 2017


Dear Parishioner(s)

New Year
I would like to wish you all a very Happy New Year. We have a great deal to look forward to in the Parish in 2017. I hope you will enjoy our Parish life and participate in the different events. We also pray that, in the world, Christ’s peace will be shed abroad in the hearts of all people and the spirit that makes for war will be banished, as we learn to live as members of one family in obedience to God’s laws.

Christmas 2016
The Christmas season in the Parish was really full of spirit and energy this year and all the events were so very well supported. The number of people at church on Christmas Day was the highest since we came to the Parish. The Parish gave a total of €10,000 to support the good work of different charities meeting the needs of people in very difficult circumstances. We were delighted to be able to support the work of SVP, the Northwest Meath Hospice, T.E.A.M., Meals on Wheels, and Doctors Without Borders. The young people who organised the “Good Hour” are to be thanked for their great success in raising over €1500 for SVP, which was accompanied by bags and boxes of lovely food items.

January Events
*The Epiphany Family Service in Killucan on Sunday 8th January
* Service of Crowns – the Children’s Gift Day – in All Saints’ on Sunday 15th January
*Week of Prayer for Christian Unity with special Prayer Services in the Abbey, Multyfarnham, on Wednesday 18th January at 8.00 p.m. and in Collinstown Parish Church on Wednesday 25th January at 8.00 p.m.
*Film Night on Friday 27th January at 8.00 p.m.
*A special Service of Blessing and Thanksgiving will be held in All Saints’ at 11.00 a.m. on Sunday 29th January to mark the beginning of the Principalship of Mrs. Lesley Denniston as Principal of All Saints’ School, Mullingar.

Epiphany
A Service of Holy Communion to celebrate Epiphany – the coming of the Wise Men – will be held in All Saints’ at 10.30 a.m. on Friday 6th January.

Canon Patrick Lawrence – Will be available for any pastoral emergencies between Monday 16th – Monday 23 of January – Telephone 086 0562944

Parish Film Night – As part of the Year of Faith I would like to invite you to a film night in All Saints’ on Friday 27th January at 8pm. We will watch a very interesting film and following the film there will be an opportunity to discuss some of the key issues raised in the film. This promises to be a very interesting evening and I hope it will be very well supported. The film is suitable for all parishioners over the age of 14.

Coffee Morning every Thursday from 10.30a.m – 1.30p.m in All Saints’
We warmly invite parishioners and friends to call in for a coffee and a chat in the very friendly atmosphere of All Saints’
Arthur and Marion O’ Toole provide delightful refreshments and this month all the donations will be given to St Vincent De Paul to support the good the Society undertakes.

Tiny Tots
The Tiny Tots continue to meet on Friday mornings 10am – 12 pm in All Saints’ during term time. It is lovely to meet the babies, small children and parents. Zoe Hales organises a most interesting programme. Do call in – you will be most welcome text Zoe on 0866052292

Bereavement
A number of families were sadly bereaved over the Christmas period and we offer them our deepest and heartfelt sympathy. Florrie Taylor a long standing parishioner passed away just before Christmas. Florrie lived a very long life and died in her 93rd year. In her early years she was very actively involved in the community and Parish and highly respected. We offer our deepest sympathy to Derek, Helen, David, Brian and Ken her children and the wider family.

The funeral took place in All Saints’. Stewart Mitchell also sadly passed away on Wednesday 4th January. Stewart’s untimely death will leave a huge gap in the hearts of so many people. He was widely respected and admired by so many people and his integrity, compassion and kind manner will be long remembered.
We offer our deepest sympathy to Grainne his wife, his dear mother, Birdie, his sons Gareth, Andrew and Adam, his sister Sandra and his wide family circle and friends. The funeral took place in All Saints’.

We were also saddened to hear of the death of Alec Bodel’s brother Billy who died at his home in the North, the death of Tom Bell who died in Southampton. Tom grew up in the Parish and we offer our deepest sympathy to all the members of the Bell Family and Florrie Nash his sister and to Frank and Billy Small. Tom’s wife is a sister of Frank and Billy.

We offer sympathy to John Hales whose uncle Frank Hales died on New Years Eve His funeral took place in Kilmallock.

We also offer sympathy to Kim and Linda Williams. Kim’s dad passed away on Christmas Day having not been well for some time.

We remember all those families in the Parish who have recently been bereaved. We pray that the hope of the Christian Gospel, that their loved ones are in God’s safe keeping, will be both a comfort and an assurance.

You may like to keep in touch with the Parish through the website and your family and friends may also like to have the web address. The address is www.mullingarunionofparishes.net. I encourage you to continue to look at the website and to also advise your family and friends about it.
Social Media
https://www.facebook.com/mullingarunionofparishes.net Keep up to date
on our Parish Facebook page or follow us on Twitter @MullingarUP

I would like to wish you all a very happy and holy Christmas. Wherever you may be spending Christmas this year, I hope you will have a most enjoyable time and I wish you good health and happiness for the New Year.

With God’s blessings,
Rev. Alastair Graham, Rector

The Rectory, Gaol’s Hill, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath.
Telephone No. 044-934 8376 

Issue 82 “UNION NEWS” December 2016

Dear Parishioner(s)
All Saints’ School
I have great pleasure in announcing the appointment of Mrs. Lesley Denniston as Principal of All Saints’ National School. Everyone is delighted with her appointment. Mrs. Denniston has been teaching in the school for the last 18 months and has won the admiration and affection of children, parents and the teachers and staff. Under her Principalship I am quite confident the school will go from strength to strength. We certainly wish her well with her new responsibilities. She will take up her appointment on 6th January 2017.

November
November was a month to remember. The special Services went exceptionally well. It was so encouraging to see the increase in the number of people coming to church and we hope this continues. I thank everyone for the wonderful contribution made to ensure that all the events passed off so well.

Advent
Advent began last Sunday, 27th November, and the Ecumenical Advent Candlelit Carol Service went particularly well. The Choir and organist were superb. I would also like to thank all the Readers and the churchwardens for their good work and commitment. This year, from 19th – 23rd December, I will be conducting a Prayer Service in All Saints’ each day at 12.00 noon. I would be delighted if parishioners would like to join me. This will allow us time for some spiritual preparation for the wonderful season of Christmas.

Christmas Whist Drive
The Christmas Whist Drive will be held on Friday 2nd December at 8.30 pm in All Saints’. This is always a very special and enjoyable occasion, with a delicious supper, and everyone is most welcome.

Christmas Cookery Demonstration
Robin Aust, the executive chef in the Parish, will hold a Christmas Cookery Demonstration in All Saints’ on Thursday 8th December at 8.00pm. Robin has a magnificent gift for cooking and you will learn what special treats you can provide at Christmas. Everyone will be invited to make a small donation to charity.

Christmas Carol Concert
The traditional Christmas Carol Concert will be held at 7.30 pm. in All Saints’ on Saturday 10th December This annual event with the Midland Youth
Orchestra, the Musical Allsorts and the Senior Parish Choir, is always a lovely festive occasion and I commend it to you. You will not be disappointed.
Musical Allsorts
The Musical Allsorts have been invited to sing at the Mullingar Choral Christmas Concert in the Cathedral on Sunday 11th December at 7.00 pm. This is a wonderful recognition of their talent and the amazing work that Mrs. Diane Ashmore, the musical director, has accomplished with the Choir. I do hope parishioners will come to the Cathedral to support Mrs. Ashmore and the young people at this special concert.

Coffee on Thursdays
Every Thursday morning in All Saints’ coffee and tea is served between 10.30 am and 1.30 pm. A different charity benefits each month. During the month of December the charity will be St. Dominic’s Meals on Wheels. In addition to supporting this worthy charity there is also an opportunity for people to meet socially in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere and I encourage parishioners to support the coffee morning by their attendance.

Tiny Tots
The Tiny Tots continue to meet on Friday mornings in All Saints’ during term time. It is lovely to meet the babies, small children and parents. Zoe Hales organises a most interesting programme. Do call in – you will be most welcome.

Parish Carol Services – Sunday 18th December
This year, on Sunday 18th December, the Ecumenical Carol Service for Kilbixy will be held at 4.30 pm in the Roman Catholic Church in Ballynarcargy. The Christmas Candlelit Carol Service will be held in All Saints’ at 7.00 pm and once again we welcome the Mullingar Town Band.

The Good Hour
The young people in the Parish invite all parishioners to join them for “the Good Hour” on Sunday 18th December from 5.30-6.30 pm in All Saints’. This is an inspiring opportunity to support a good charitable cause and the young people are warmly commended for this initiative. I hope parishioners will come in large numbers and stay on for the Carol Service afterwards.

Christmas Services
Christmas Services will be held in each of the churches this Christmas and we very much look forward to wishing everyone a very happy Christmas.

Services after Christmas
It is the tradition to hold Services on the three days after Christmas Day and these will be held in All Saints’ at 11.00 am each morning.

New Year’s Day
New Year’s Day falls on a Sunday and there will be a Service held in each church.

Bible Study
This month the Bible Study will be held at 10.30 am on Saturday 17th December in Killucan church.

Diocese of Bangor, Wales
On Saturday morning, 3rd December, members of the Diocese of Bangor, who are making a visit to our Diocese, will be attending a meeting in All Saints’.

Holy Baptism
We welcomed into God’s family Isolde Olive Ryan on Sunday 20th November and we will remember her, her parents and godparents as she begins her journey of faith.

Bereavements
We offer our sincere sympathy to those families who have been recently bereaved. Norman Black’s brother passed away after bearing his illness with great courage and dignity; Jean Gorissen’s mother passed away peacefully after also bearing her illness with extraordinary courage; and Rachel Leech’s mother also passed away after a very long illness, borne with extraordinary dignity. Each family has been remembered lovingly in prayer. We pray that the cherished memories they have of their loved one will be a great comfort to them and that their loved ones, now in the fuller presence of God, may rest in peace.

You may like to keep in touch with the Parish through the website and your family and friends may also like to have the web address. The address is www.mullingarunionofparishes.net. I encourage you to continue to look at the website and to also advise your family and friends about it.
Social Media
https://www.facebook.com/mullingarunionofparishes.net Keep up to date
on our Parish Facebook page or follow us on Twitter @MullingarUP

I would like to wish you all a very happy and holy Christmas. Wherever you may be spending Christmas this year, I hope you will have a most enjoyable time and I wish you good health and happiness for the New Year.

With God’s blessings,
Rev. Alastair Graham, Rector

The Rectory, Gaol’s Hill, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath.
Telephone No. 044-934 8376

Watson Mills Celebrating 70 years Consecutive Service on the Select Vestry

Follow us on Twitter @MullingarUP
PRESS RELEASE

Watson Mills Celebrating 70 Years Consecutive Service
Sunday 10th April 2016

On Sunday 10th April a packed church at Kilbixy joined in the Thanksgiving Service for 70 years

of consecutive service of Watson Mills on the Parish Select Vestry.
Rev. Alastair Graham Mullingar Union of Parishes led the service which included a dedication of plaque to honour Watson for his commitment to the Select Vestry in the parish.

Watson was first elected to the Vestry in 1946 and continues to serve with both distinction and influence, now in his 90th year. His service of 70 years is a truly remarkable achievement and demonstrates so clearly his firm commitment to serve God and his Church.

Watson was born in a nursing home in Mount Street in Dublin, the elder brother of John. They both had the privilege of growing up in the picturesque village of Ballynacargy in Westmeath, where their father ran a local drapery shop. Watson’s father was from the locality and his mother came from Abbeyleix in Co. Laois. As a young man Watson took over the running of the shop and expanded the drapery shop to include hardware and all other household items. He was very successful in his business and won the admiration and loyalty of the village as customers. However, in addition to his business, Watson generously embraced a spirit of service to both the church and the wider community. In all the myriad of different activities he was to the fore, whether it was fishing and shooting, as founder of the village Tennis Club in 1948, or his invaluable contribution to the Kilbixy Historical and Heritage Society where his knowledge of local history is legend and he, himself, is revered as an historian.

Perhaps his most lasting contribution was his work on the restoration of the Royal Canal which started with other local people in 1974. At that time, the Royal Canal in that part of Westmeath had become totally dysfunctional, without any water, and had become something of an eyesore and dump. With Watson’s influence and leadership, the local group in Ballynacargy undertook an amazing restoration which saw the Canal extended to the river Shannon. The Canal now runs freely through the village and has become one of the most picturesque features in this beautiful pastoral part of the County of Westmeath.

Watson’s commitment to improving the environment also extended to the Tidy Towns, when he became one of the founding members. The village is now a delight to visit and is greatly admired by all visitors.

Watson’s life has been grounded in his faith and commitment to God. His love of God has engendered in him an amazing sense of vocation and he has, with great delicacy and sensitivity, ensured that the very historic church of Kilbixy has been properly restored. It is now one of the most historical sites in the country, where it is only one of two churches that had a Leper Hospital in the church grounds and the remains of the hospital are still visible today. In Watson’s time Ballynacargy was an oasis of goodness and adventure for young children to grow up in and he and his brother, John, enjoyed an enchanting childhood and the benefits of that lived with them all their lives. This enchanting upbringing took place without any religious bigotry and was surrounded by a great social life which was enjoyed by young and old alike.

At the lunch in Bloomfield following the service four people Johnathon Mills, Eleanor Murtagh , Norman Black, Ruth Illingworth got to make a speech about Watson and pay tribute to the contribution he made in so many areas – after that Watson himself addressed the room with a witty and poignant speech recalling memories over the past eight or nine decades. It was a wonderful way to end the day to hear from such a powerful witness how time has made it possible for Christians from all walks of faith to celebrate together.

“It was wonderful to witness and share in the celebrations with the large congregation of family, friends and parishioners that gathered on Sunday to offer their thanks to God for a truly wonderful human being who has embraced the finest of Christian values and standards and whose ecumenical spirit has helped to create a lovely Christian atmosphere and ethos in Ballynacargy, which is, along with Watson’s distinguished service to God’s church, a beacon of light that is an inspiration to the whole of Ireland and beyond. May God continue to bless Watson with good health and happiness and may his good influence continue to be felt in all aspects of our church and society.” Rev. Alastair Graham