Presbyterian Church in Ireland web site 1813-1963








The Rev. Alex. Dobbin's next assistant was the Rev. Robert Kelso, who was ordained on the 31st October, 1907.

A native of Co. Donegal, he was born at Tullygay, Letterkenny, on the 11th March, 1877, and brought up in First Letterkenny Church during the ministry of the Rev. John Kinnear, who was elected Liberal M.P. at Westminster. He studied at Magee University College, Derry, and Assembly's College, Belfast. After being licensed by the Presbytery of Letterkenny on the 14th of April, 1903, he became assistant in Donegall Road Presbyterian Church until he received his call to Boardmills.

When the Great War broke out many young men in the district joined the Forces, and in August, 1916, the Rev. Kelso joined the Army as a Chaplain, and was immediately sent to France. He served with the Royal Irish Rifles until his demobilisation in November, 1919. During his absence the congregation was in charge of the Rev. R. W. Dodds, superintendent of the Kinghan Mission and the Rev. Dr. R. H. Beattie, a retired lieutenant-colonel from the Army Chaplain's Department.

As a token of thanksgiving for victory, the congregation installed an organ and decided to purchase individual communion cups. These gifts, together with a brass shield with the names of those who had fought in the Great War, were dedicated on the 6th June, 1920.

The esteem and respect which Mr. Kelso was held in the countryside was shown in 1924, when it was learned he was about to be given a call from a Co. Derry church. A deputation from his own congregation and Killaney Secession Church asked him to remain as minister of the united congregations (1). He agreed, and in June, 1925, Mr. Moody, minister of Killaney Secession Church, and his congregation, were received into the General Assembly. Mr. Moody then resigned for reasons of health, and on the 30th July, 1925, Mr. Kelso was installed as his .successor.

For the remainder of his long ministry-he died on the 16th June, 1950-Mr. Kelso worked to weld his two flocks into one, a task which he fulfilled. He was an outstanding figure both in the life of the Church and in public life, and his ready and jovial manner and keen sense of humour, made him a welcome visitor in the homes of his people.


The Rev. Kelso was succeeded by Mr. Frederick Allen Pickering, B.A., a licentiate of the Belfast Presbytery, who was ordained on the 21st February, 1951. The only son of Mr. and Mrs. George Pickering, 43 Rosemount Gardens, Belfast, he was brought up in Castleton (now Alexandra) Presbyterian Church. He was educated at Methodist College, Belfast; Magee University College, Derry; Trinity College, Dublin, where he graduated in 1946; and Assembly's College, Belfast. He then acted as assistant minister in Belmont Presbyterian Church, Belfast, for 2)2 years.

After his ordination the Rev. Pickering threw himself with zest into the life of the congregation. The young people were his special interest, and he formed a Boys' Brigade, and encour aged the formation of a most successful company of the Girls' Brigade.

During his brief ministry many alterations and repairs were carried out to the church property, and in the autumn of 1955 electricity was installed in both manse and church. The instal lation of electricity in the church was made possible by a legacy from Mr. Samuel Dunn, J.P., a member of session who died on the 17th February, 1953.
On the 8th May, 1957, the Rev. Pickering resigned his charge, and was furnished by the Presbytery of Dromore with credentials to the Presbytery of Sangeen, Presbyterian Church of Canada, he having accepted a call to the congregations of Conn and Mount Forest.


The present minister of the congregation is the Rev. Arthur Harold Graham, B.A., who was ordained on the 17th October, 1957. He is a son of Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Graham of Ballymena, and was brought up in connection with the High Kirk Church in that town. Educated at the local Model and Grammar Schools, he then went to Magee University College, where he distinguished himself by obtaining a first prize in Mental and Moral Philosophy, and a first prize in Ethics. He graduated at Trinity College, Dublin, and completed his theological studies at New College, Edinburgh, and Assembly's College, Belfast. After being licensed by the Presbytery of Ballymena Mr. Graham then spent two years as assistant minister of Sinclair Seamen's Church, Belfast, under the Rev. J. A. McFarland, M.A.

On the 26th August, 1958, the Rev. Graham married Miss Frances Olivia Hemphill, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Albert Hemphill of Drumquin, Omagh, and is the father of three young sons.

Shortly before the Rev. Graham's ordination the congregation suffered a serious loss in the death of the session clerk, Mr. David Maxwell, J.P., the third generation of his family to act as elders in Second Boardmills. Mr. Maxwell loved his church, served it zealously, supported it liberally, and counselled it wisely. His gift for friendship, his warm hearted nature, his upright example, made him a much loved member of session. As its Clerk for many years, and as Congregational Treasurer, he served his church tirelessly. (1)

During his lifetime Mr. Maxwell had presented the church with a new organ in memory of his wife, and a bequest he made to the church enabled the choir box to be removed, and a choir platform made. This improvement, together with new choir chairs and other furnishings, was dedicated on 4th January, 1959, by Rev. Professor (now Principal) Wilson, D.D. This is an important date in the history of Boardmills Presbyterianism, as that evening, for the first time, a united communion service was held with First Boardmills, and has been repeated every year since.

Mr. Graham's ministry has witnessed large scale improvements in the congregational property-a new kitchen and cloakrooms have been built to the hall, both church and hall have been redecorated, the manse has been modernised, and to meet changing social conditions an extensive car park has been provided.

During his brief ministry in Boardmills the Rev. Graham has gained the hearts of his people by his sterling character, earnestness and transparent sincerity, and we pray that he may be long spared to exercise his varied gifts among the people who have called him to lead them as they seek to advance the Kingdom of God in Boardmills.

(1) Memorial Minute.


JOHN DUNN (former Treasurer) and JOHN GALL (former Committee Member) DAVID MAXWELL, J.P. (Former Clerk of Session)