This section contains anecdotes and provides information on four of our most renowned PP’s Archdeacon Alexander J McCarron, Monsignor Charles McFaul, Fr William Boyle McFeely and Monsignor Joseph O’Doherty. References- The following publications have been utilised for this section: James A Coulter, “History of Glendermott Parish”, 1958 , Derry Journal Archive, Edward Daly & Kieran Devlin “The Clergy of the Diocese Of Derry- An Index”,1997
Alexander J. McCarron
Born 1801, Derry City, Ordained Priest 1826; Educated at Foyle College and St Patrick’s College, Maynooth. Curate in Glendermott from 1828-1830;
PP Glendermott from 1830-53; buried inside St Columb’s Church opposite the side altar to Our Lady.
He was known as the Archdeacon, took part in Derry Discussions of March 1928. He was a forceful personality. During his first curacy in Coleraine, he crossed swords with a Protestant clergyman, who had trespassed on Catholic rights. A few years later he attached one Warner, who had made himself obnoxious by restrictions he attempted to impose on Ervey School. He also forced Protestant land agents to change their attitudes towards Catholics. He always pointed he had the highest regard for his non-Catholic brethren as he said “I was educated by a Protestant clergyman, my school-fellows being Protestant, I cannot but regard them with feelings of affection”. During his studies, he entered the Humanity class at Maynooth where he read a distinguished course. He had a considerable talent for oratory, and as called upon to preach on occasions on important life of Catholic Derry, such as Daniel O’Connell commemorations, and the funerals of Bishops Peter McLaughlin and Bishop Maginn, where he broke down and wept. During Derry Discussions 1928, he read a paper on the third day, but illness prevented him from taking any further part.
As Parish Priest, he gave the flock what they needed, the consciousness that they might speak out freely when their rights were invaded, and the realisation that at last they achieved equality under the law. He administered the Last Rites to the 72 dead at Derry port following the “Londonderry” paddle steamer tragedy on 3rd December 1848. It’s unclear why he was called “Archdeacon” as no Papal dignity was conferred on him. Before 1836, he celebrated Mass in the coach-house of Dr White in Duke Street, liberal benefactors to St Columb’s but in that year the Archdeacon bought an acre of ground from Liberal MP Sir Robert Ferguson, whose statue stands in Brooke Park. On 29th August 1838 Dr McLaughlin laid the foundation stone and after many disappointments arising chiefly from the churlishness of the contractor, St Columb’s Church was opened in 1841, with Archdeacon McCarron celebrating the first Mass on 3rd January 1841. The Derry Journal at the time (Tuesday 27th July 1841) “On Sunday last (25th) St Columb’s Chapel, Waterside was Consecrated as a place of worship in connection with the Roman Catholic Church. Archdeacon McCarron’s outspoken opinions irritated many non-Catholics. One such occasion was when an English MP Mr Chambers, advocated in offensive terms that “nunneries” should be open to government inspection. Fr McCarron mentioned the subject at Mass in St Columb’s on Sunday 12th June 1853, intending to advise the congregation to petition against the bill. Before he could explain his suggestion, a young army officer, Everett, ordered the party of Catholic soldiers that he oversaw to leave the church. Archdeacon McCarron continued with the Mass, urging them to remain where they were. Almost 30 of the 70 soldiers kept their places, the rest leaving the Church. After Mass these men were arrested and punished for disobedience. Fr McCarron was cited before civil court, July 1853 accused of inciting the soldiers to mutiny. Whilst he was honourably discharged, he suffered a considerable vexation, taking a toll on his health.
He took ill during Mass on Sunday 21st August 1853 and died a few hours later. Following the death of Archdeacon McCarron, a brass and slate monument was erected by his grateful parishioners, today enjoying a honoured place in the Church. Since he died before the enlargement of the Church, he is buried opposite the side altar to Our Lady near to where his plaque is situated.
Monsignor Charles McFaul
Born 1830, Clonmany; Ordained Priest 23 February 1862, Long Tower. PP Glendermott 1881-1915; Died 18th July 1915, buried at Ardmore.
When he came to Glendermott in 1881, he set to work enlarging St Columb’s, adding a chancel and transepts, making the church cruciform by 1888. He brightened the interior, installed a new Communion rail of polished pitched pine and erected wrought iron gates at the entrance. He also separated the church grounds from the school. He also installed the High Altar and side altars in 1902 by Ashlin and Coleman, along with the stained glass windows by Mayer of Munich. Monsignor McFaul had a winning way, and his cheerful disposition and unaffected kindness won the hearts of his people.
Until recently, stories of his good humour survived. In 1912, he acquired premises in Spencer Road for use as a Parish Hall from a co-operative society, he was also a close friend of Cardinal Logue, and invited him to preach in St Columb’s. He also erected fine schools for the boys and girls of the parish, as well as Ardmore. He ceded 14 townlands of Lower Cumber from Glendermott to Faughanvale parish in December 1902. He also took an active interest in the management of the city Asylum. A few years before his death he became an invalid, and after considerable suffering went to his rest on 18th July, 1915 at the age of 84. He was sincerely mourned. On his funeral to Ardmore, shops suspended business and blinds were drawn. The Derry Journal reported that “the feeling of profound sorrow caused by the death of a beloved spiritual guide was shown by the great number who visited his coffin during the day and knelt in silent prayer. Touching scenes were witnessed as parishioners bowed their heads and took a last look at the features of one who endeared himself to all during his long and saintly life”.
Fr William Boyle McFeely
Born 1863, Derry City; Ordained 23rd February 1888 Basilica of St John Latern, Rome. PP VF Glendermott 1915-37; died 6 April 1937, buried at Ardmore.
Uncle of Bishop Anthony Columba McFeely of Raphoe. He was one of the first pupils at St Columb’s College, from here he went to Rome where he secured a Bachelorship of Divinity. From the beginning he showed an interest in schools, urging parents that their children should take advantage for improving themselves. He was President of the Derry Coisde Ceanntair and refused to appoint teachers to his schools who had not a certificate of proficiency in Irish, by 1912, 2,000 pupils were learning the language. Fr McFeely had a deep veneration for Mary, Mother of God, and significantly enough one of his first public acts was in the parish was the unveiling of the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, erected by the Catholic Soldiers of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in memory of their fallen comrades. It is thought that this Grotto was dedicated on Easter Sunday 1916. He was closely associated with Bishop McHugh in organising the first Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes.
Towards the end of 1916, he started a scheme was for extensive improvements in the Parish. A building fund was started was started and with the approval of the Bishop, an appeal was made for outside funds. From this, the Waterside church was renovated, an organ installed, and an extension was built to the parochial house. In 1917, a large job of fibrous plaster work was carried out by Michael Creedon, Clare Lane, Dublin on St Columb’s. The Church was closed for the period of this work. In March 1917, Fr McFeely began negotiations with the Enagh Lough AOH for purchase of their hall, that he might convert it into a chapel. On 25th March, Brothers William and Con Doherty were appointed delegates to discuss a suitable price for building with any representatives the Parish priest would name. At the following meeting on 8thApril, it was announced the hall would be sold for £200.
It was there upon decided that the society would contribute of £40 to the expenses of building a chapel. Therefore, Mass was celebrated again after so many centuries at Enagh Lough. He also was in charge when the Good Shepherd Sisters came to the Parish in 1919 and when Ardmore Chapel was opened in November 1930. He built Waterside Boy’s school in 1934 and extended the Chapel at Enagh Lough. He was a distinguished and venerable Diocesan figure, with his name being remembered by those who knew his work or him. Fastidious in his personal habits and humble in his attitude, he never invited personal popularity. It is thus paradoxical that his name should be so much alive in the parish. The chalice used by Fr McFeely, is still in use in St Columb’s today!.
Monsignor Joseph O’Doherty
Born 20th February 1895, Carndonagh; ordained priest 6th July 1919, Maynooth. PP Glendermott 1947-74; Vicar General of Diocese; Retired 1974
Died 9 April 1978 at Carndonagh, buried at Carndonagh.
He distinguished himself in theology gaining a Lectorship in Sacred Theology in 1921, he was appointed to staff at St Columb’s College where he remained for 22 years as a professor of Classics until 1939 and president until 1943. In July of 1943 he was appointed to Fahan, where his monument remains St Mura’s Chapel. When he came to Glendermott in 1947, in December he was created a Domestic Prelate by his Holiness, Pope Pius XII. He set to work constructing the temporary church in Newbuildings, which at the time was a great convenience to the people living in the southern end of the parish.
He also renovated the church at Ardmore, installed heating and made improvements in the graveyard. Similarly, he installed a new heating plant in St Columb’s and redecorated the interior as well as considerable exterior ground work. Furthermore, a kitchen was added to the boy’s school, so that the children could have a hot midday meal. As noted above, Newbuildings Oratory was constructed as a temporary chapel of ease, dedicated on 8th February 1948 by Bishop Neil Farren. The structure was a Nissen Hut. The high point of Monsignor’s time in our parish was the Solemn Consecration of St Columb’s Church on 3rd June 1958. He is still venerated and fondly remembered today for his humility, warmth and charity. Monsignor O’Doherty also devised a new offertory subscription plan from Sunday 3rd October 1965. All contributions to the church and to the building fund were concentrated into one single subscription. He was the kingpin behind the opening of St Brecan’s School on September 1st 1966.
“A priest endowed with gifts of heart and head that have made him popular as he is revered” was the tribute paid by the Derry Journal on his becoming of Monsignor. He died on 9th April 1978 in Carndonagh, following retirement in 1974.