THE DONEGAL INFLUENCE...
few days before Christmas 1909 the Committee met to discuss
the various ways to choose a new minister.
They opted for a Hearing List and began by Hearing Messrs.
Henderson, Stevenson and Young. These gentlemen were followed
by several more ministers and licentiates whose names were not
recorded. When a young Donegal man appeared in the pulpit he
met with the unanimous approval of the 63 members who were
eligible to vote at that time.
The Rev. Thomas John Kinnear
Rankin was a farmer's son born at Seacon in 1884. He was
educated at St. Eunen's Seminary and Raphoe Royal School, then
at Magee College graduating with an MA in philosophy from the
Royal University of Ireland. Our fourth Pastor was brought up
in 1st Letterkenny Presbyterian Church where his minister was
Dr. John Kinnear, a Liberal and supporter of Tenant Rights.
When he was ordained and installed in Legacurry on 27 July
1910 he inherited a thriving congregation, a recently
renovated Church, a well established day school and a Senior
Minister, the Rev. William Browne, who encouraged and
supported him. From his lodgings in Plantation townland he
might well have envisaged a rosy future for himself and his
Congregation. He was not to know that two World Wars, a severe
Depression and the personal tragedy of his future wife's long
illness were all ahead of him.
He was to minister for 39
years, during which time the Freewill Offering System was
introduced in 1921, a new Public Elementary School was opened
in 1926 and a new manse built in 1930. He devoted himself to
this Bible Class and Sabbath Schools. There was a morning
school in the Church and afternoon schools, first in Ravarnet,
then in Deneight. Legacurry Sabbath School and Bible Class
became the flagship of the Dromore Presbytery and Mr. Rankin's
personal delight. He consistently encouraged the scholars and
was quick to recognise their achievements. Many of our older
members are able to recall the excitement of competing for the
Jameson Shield and our pride, and his, when we won it
outright, having been judged the best Sabbath School in the
Presbytery for 10 consecutive years.
Mr. Rankin married in
1913. His bride was Miss Mary Elizabeth Corkey, an honours'
graduate and a missionary in Egypt with the American
Presbyterian Church. She was born at Glendermot, the youngest
of the Rev. Dr. Joseph Corkey's eleven children. The eight
sons became Presbyterian ministers, the three daughters became
missionaries. Women were not, at that time, considered for the
Ministry. The Congregation was delighted to have a bride in
their midst and collected the magnificent sum of �88.1.6 for
their wedding gifts. Mrs. Rankin was given silver and Mr.
Rankin a purse of sovereigns and an Illuminated Address. They
made their home at `Ardara' in Deneight (near the present
manse) in a very attractive house recently built by the Fraser
family. From there the young couple cycled around the
countryside visiting the homes of their members, or simply for
Early in 1912 Mr. Mateer agreed to sell a school
site in Lisnastrean for �40 per acre. The money was to be
raised locally and by appealing to past pupils. World War One
intervened and the school was not built until 1926. It was the
first Public Elementary School provided under the auspices of
the new Northern Ireland Government. Mr. John Jameson built
the school for �2,062. The Ministry of Education paid �1,374
being their two-thirds' share. The Church provided the other
third. The foundation stones were laid by Lady Turner, JP, the
Lady Mayoress of Belfast, Mrs. B. Graham, Larchfield and Mrs.
T J.K. Rankin, BA. Mrs. Rankin's stone was to perpetuate the
memory of Mr. Andrew Morrow of Ballyhomra who bequeathed �150
to the Church for educational purposes. The three ladies were
each given a handsome silver trowel.
The old schoolroom took
on a completely new role becoming a much needed Church Hall.
It was replastered and furnished with 100 uncomfortable round
bottomed chairs at 6s each and 2 oil lamps. The first problem
arose within weeks when the Sexton of the day "did not
consider it his duty to light lamps and fires for the `girls'
meeting' in the schoolroom." A few months later a new Sexton
was appointed. His job description read, "Keep Church, Hall
and out-offices clean and tidy... Clean and verge all walks
... cut hedges and grass (he may keep the grass) ... light and
heat any of the buildings as required for any Service or
Meeting." His wages were �12 per year.
With the coming of
Mrs. Rankin the women of the Congregation were given more
recognition. They excelled at `collecting'. Long standing
debts were cleared at a stroke. In 1918 after Mr. Scott, our
last Precentor, resigned they collected �82 for an organ which
cost �67, leaving �15 to buy new choir books. Mrs. Rankin
wanted to do something beneficial for the women of the
Congregation. Soon after she came she formed a Girls'
Auxiliary and was its President until 1949.
Secular things were changing too, thanks to the influence of
another young lady. In 1915 Miss Sarah Jane Woods, Ballyhomra,
was appointed to the post of Assistant Teacher in the day
school. Shortly afterwards she sought, and was granted,
permission to introduce cookery as a practical subject.
However, when the Committee discovered that 100 items of
equipment were necessary they had serious second thoughts.
"The unanimous opinion was if cookery could not operate on a
much smaller scale the matter could drop, they would give
�2.0.0 from the Annual Grant, the pupils could raise the
rest." The success of Mrs. James Crothers', nee Miss S .J.
Woods, cookery class can be judged from the Minute of January
1922 which records, "A new cooking stove to be purchased for
the schoolroom." Persistence pays!!
The Church finances
improved greatly in 1915 when Mr. R.H. Clarke, Largymore,
bought Mr. Browne's old manse and 5 acre field for �450. For
the first time there was ,real money' in the bank. A year or
so later it was invested in War Loan.
World War 1 did not leave our congregation unscathed. Three of
our members made the supreme sacrifice: Sergeant William J.
Crothers RE., Lance Corporal Alexander Boyd, RIR, and Rifleman
James McDowell, RIR. The others who served were Rev. J.C.G.
Ball, Chaplain, Samuel Deans, T.S. Clarke, Gordon Harvey,
David Bell, William Boyd, James Bowers, Samuel Milligan, R.
Heathwood, John P. Milligan, Robert Boyd, John Presha,
Alexander Gowdy, Joseph Caughey, John Corbett, George Glover,
Harry McCloy, James McCloy, Lewis A. Milligan, William
Milligan. The Rev. T J.K. Rankin served a four month tour of
duty with the YMCA in a war zone. Their Memorial plaque was
unveiled in 1921. A few years later a Shield was presented to
the Dromore Presbytery by Miss Ann Jameson of Crossan, in
memory of her nephew Private Alexander Jameson, Canadian Army,
who was killed in action on 26 August 1918. After 10 years of
competition it came home to rest in Legacurry. Ann's mother
and perhaps Ann herself were Church Sextons for several years.
Oral tradition tells us that Mrs. Jameson was the local
`nurse' called on to attend at births and funerals.
Spanish 'flu of 1918 also left its mark on the Congregation.
The names of two of the victims are recorded - Mr. J.E.
McIlveen, a choir member, and Mr. John McConnell, The Hill,
Lisnastrean. Our first individual cup Communion Service is
dedicated to John's memory. The attendance at the November
communion that year fell from 86 to 62. Mr. Rankin added the
comment, "Spanish flu".
The poor were still with us in 1916
when the Committee decided that any poor person in the
neighbourhood needing interment ground could have it free of
charge. We were not always so considerate. A few years later
when some very poor families were no longer able to contribute
to Church funds they were 'struck-off. One of these families
was headed by a father, employed as a farm labourer and
earning 8s a week. He had a wife and six children of school
age and below. Even in the 1920's 40 (new) pence would not
sustain a household of 8 souls for a week. Fortunately for
that worthy labourer he was able to speak well of his
employer's consistent generosity to his wife and small
The Lord provided. Our Church did not.
to 1925 the Annual Report carried an `Arrears' column and any
member who failed to pay the full amount expected from him
under the `Voluntary System' had the shortfall printed against
his name. Times were hard for the 'have-nots'.
In the early
1930's Mrs. Violet Campbell of Church View provided a
nourishing, freshly cooked meal for some of the poorest
children attending the day school. Her own children shopped
around in Lisburn for two pence and three pence worth of off
cuts of bacon, beef, fish, meaty bones and suet. With these
ingredients she created fish pies, soups and stews served up
with plenty of small potatoes given to her by Ernest Urey. On
a really good day they enjoyed a basket of food sent over by
the schoolmaster's wife who always "put something nice on
top". When Mr. Rankin came to hear about this shining example
of the generosity of the poor he was able to tap some public
funding which helped her a little. At that time Mrs. Campbell
was striving to keep her own family of four on 15s per week.
The Dromore Presbytery visited in 1924 and found all well
except for the fact that there was no manse. As far back as
1915 sites for a manse had been under discussion but no action
taken. Early in 1928 a Congregational Meeting attended by 26
members heard Mr. R.H. Clarke state that Mr. William Leathem
of Deneight had agreed to accept �150 for a field of 2 acres
and 1 rood. The site came with a small cottage occupied by
Miss Agnes Reid. Mr. Rankin agreed that Agnes could remain in
her home for as long as she wished. She died in 1935. The
estimated cost of a house deemed suitable for a manse was
thought to be around �2,000. The ladies were asked to start
collecting for funds. Mr. Hobart of Dromore was the chosen
architect. Although Mr. R.H. Clarke was shortly to purchase
that part of Mr. Leathern's farm, the arrangement for the
manse site was honoured.
The manse was built by Messrs.
Thomas McKee and Son at a contract price of �2,087 plus �179
for the avenue. The plumbing estimate was �100 to �120.
"Operation Manse" began on New Year's Day 1930 when the men of
the congregation attended the site to excavate the avenue and
walks, and to see if surface water could be kept out of the
well.. Mr. Milligan raised stone for site work at 2s per ton.
By August of that year the manse was completed and insured for
�2,000, although the total cost to build was nearer
Despite the Depression, fund raising went ahead - there were
Special Services, Guest Teas, Social Events, first and second
Subscription Lists and finally a Debt Extinction List. By 1941
the manse was clear of debt.
Meanwhile the interior of the
church was distempered and the doors grained at a cost of
�20.4.7. The coal house needed a new floor which the Sexton
offered to lay provided he could have a bag of cement. Many a
Primary Sunday School child was warmed by the new stove
purchased for the Church Hall in 1932. It was a very efficient
stove, pot bellied and black.
When the schoolmaster of the
day no longer wished to live in the Master's Residence the
name was changed to Cabra Cottage. Mrs. Jane Porteous was the
first tenant, the rent was �30 per year.
In 1936 Mr.
Davidson gave a Lantern Slide and Talk on Egypt. It was
captivating, the machine whirred and hummed, long-legged
camels walked across the screen followed by goats, funny sheep
and men in blankets all in multi-shades of brown. (That was
many a child's first time at the movies).
A social held in
1938 raised �5.0.0 out of which a new Pulpit Bible and choir
books were purchased. The beautifully scripted dedication on
the fly-leaf reads, "Pulpit Bible provided by the Congregation
in commemoration of the 4th Centenary of the introduction of
the English Bible into pulpit use -June 1938."
time the Committee decided to approach younger wage earning
members with a view to their joining the Freewill Offering
Scheme. Forty young people agreed and together they subscribed
18s per week. Nevertheless, that year the donation to Missions
had to be reduced.
Soon we were to be plunged into World War
II. The Rev. T.J.K. Rankin made the sombre announcement from
the pulpit on the damp, thundery and humid Sabbath morning of
3 September 1939.
Several local young people volunteered for
Active Service. Miss Frances McIlveen, Clyde Burke, Dr. Robin
Clarke, Roy Irvine, Leslie Garnett, Bobbie Chapman, Hugh
Fraser and George, William and Samuel Megarry. Bobby Chapman
did not return - the others did, some of them bearing the
scars of life in a Japanese `Prisoner of War' camp.
Our Centenary Services in 1941 were held in the busy and
anxious days following the Blitz of Belfast when over 1,000
people died in one night. The Minute of 16 July 1941 devotes
only five lines to the planning of the Centenary Services. The
rest of the Minute deals with efforts to clear the manse debt
and the security of Church documents. Our "box" was to be
retrieved from the strong room in Church House and deposited
in Mr. Rankin's safe and the grave digger was to have a War
Bonus of 5s per grave. Despite the minimum of planning the
Centenary Services were very successful. Mr. Rankin preached
at both morning and evening services reading from Isaiah
Chapter 6 and Matthew Chapter 16.
He made much of the opportunity to exhort the children to
carry on the work and traditions of their forefathers -that
was their duty. In those days of petrol rationing, private and
public transport were restricted and travelling was difficult.
We did, however, have one distinguished guest, the great
granddaughter of Mr. William Graham who laid our `first stone'
Following the Blitz came the `evacuees', some of them
homeless, all of them frightened. Many homes in the country
made room for at least one family. Agnes Reid's cottage was
re-opened to house Mrs. Isabella Harvey, a very old member,
her daughter and son-in-law. Special collections were made to
assist Presbyterian families in Belfast rendered homeless due
to the bombing. The Sabbath School rolls increased
considerably and the Church Hall became a day school once more
when space was needed for an extra 80 children. The hall was
also a designated Rest Centre for homeless people in the event
of further air raids. Temporary dry toilets were made in the
old stables, water was carried from the new school. A little
later the Down Regional Education Committee paid a rent of 10s
per week plus �10.0.0 per year for the use of the hall, the
cooker to provide school meals and a dining area for the day
school children. After that a Baby Clinic was held there. From
1950 onwards it was the home of the local branch of the
Women's Institute, the educational and social meeting ground
for ladies of the district. Those unknown men who, in 1858,
built that little ,schoolroom' would have been very proud
indeed of the valuable service their handiwork was providing
100 years on.
Finances had improved by 1944 and we were able
to "give a little extra to Missions." Also in 1944 Campbell
Gardner, Glengard, Lisnastrean and his wife Agnes were
remembered by their only surviving child Frances Agnes in the
gift of a Communion Table and Chair. Frances is our eldest
member and the lady who remembers the Rev. A.F. Moody. From
time to time she writes lovely letters to us all from her home
The welcome end to World War II came in 1945.
That year also brought electricity to the countryside.
Northern Ireland Electricity Board levied a five year minimum
payment on all installations irrespective of usage. The Church
levy was �26.0.0 per year. The Committee opted for lighting
only, heating was deemed too costly. The following year the
manse was wired at a cost of �73. At this time Mrs. Sarah
Crothers chose William Quinn of Lisburn to install electric
lighting in the Church in memory of her husband, James, who
died in December, 1944. During the previous 31 years he had
been a member of Church Committee, an Elder and a Church
Equipment surplus to Army requirements was sold
to the public from 1946 onwards. The Church Extension
Committee purchased a number of Nissen Huts for future use in
developing areas. Mr. Rankin was quick to acquire one of them
for Deneight where there was a proposal to build a large
number of houses. He was anxious that his Church should be
ready to receive the newcomers. The houses were never built,
but the little hall was in regular use for almost 40 years. It
accommodated an afternoon Sunday School, monthly evening
services, Harvest and Carol Services, parties and youth
functions. The local residents, in particular, made full and
enjoyable use of it.
Our finances were improving rapidly.
Mr. Rankin's salary was increased from �190.0.0 to �250.0.0
per annum. He was to enjoy the increase for a little over a
year. He died suddenly on 21 April 1949 aged 65 years. He was
survived by Mrs. Rankin who lived amongst the Corkey family
until her death in 1961. They are buried near the Session Room
During Mr. Rankin's 37 year ministry he baptised 555 children.
The first, Christine, daughter of William and Agnes Gibson;
the second, Samuel John Noel, son of Samuel and Sarah Brown;
the last was Samuel, son of Robert and Elizabeth Deane.
The first marriage of his ministry solemnised on 14 October
1910 was between Hugh Henry McConnell, farmer, Boardmills and
Maggie McClelland, Cabra-the last was William P. Girvan, Young
Farmers' Clubs' Organiser, Bresagh, Boardmills and Jeanette
McIlveen, laboratory assistant, Crossan House.
the years prior to Youth Organisations, Children's Church,
Youth Choirs, Bowls, Badminton and Senior Members' parties.
They were the years of Sunday Services, Sunday Schools and the
Girls' Auxiliary, a concert in March and a half-day Sunday
School trip to Bangor or Newcastle in June. Each year in May,
Mr. Rankin pumped up his bicycle and visited all his
parishioners in their homes for reading and prayer. At most
other times he could be found in the beautiful garden, which
Mrs. Rankin enjoyed so much, and which he created with the
assistance of Paddy, his garden-help. They made a rockery
which literally stopped the traffic, a tennis court and masses
of beautiful flower and shrub beds. The vegetable garden and
soft fruits' section kept the manse and several other families
in fresh vegetables and soft fruits, fresh and bottled, for
most of the year. A hay crop was saved from the rest of the
grounds. Mr. Rankin's niece and housekeeper, Miss May Rankin
(later Mrs. R J. Porter) was expert in the art of making
raspberry wine. The health of many of the Corkey family brides
was toasted in raspberry wine made from the fruit grown by her
uncle and Paddy, then picked by Mrs. Rankin and her oldest
sister and constant companion, Miss Annie Corkey
Those of us
who were there before 1949 remember the Rev. T J.K. Rankin as
a man of many talents, full of energy and enthusiasm. Those of
us who were privileged to attend his Bible Class on Sunday
mornings experienced the greatest of all his gifts - his
teaching. Our fourth minister was a truly great teacher.
PEACE, PROGRESS, PROSPERITY...
In 1949 no one could have foreseen how the next thirty-four years were
to benefit the Congregation. Looking back we can see that nothing happened
by accident - everything was in the vision of our much loved friend and
senior Minister, the Rev. John McCaughan, BA, a Ballycastle man and a
farmer's son. He came to Legacurry on 6 October 1949 from Cremore and
Tyrones Ditches where he spent the first six years of his ministry, five
of them as a bachelor. When he came to us brought with him his newly
wedded wife, the former Molly Lyons, daughter of the Rev. J.D. Lyons, BA.
The introduction of the Welfare State in 1948 made great changes for
the better throughout the Province. The instances of abject poverty in the
previous hundred years had gone. Everyone was better off though few, as
yet, were affluent, at least by to day's standards. Our new Minister was
given a stipend of �275 per year with no allowances of any kind. If his
financial aspirations were limited, his aspirations for our Church were
Perhaps his greatest gift, outside the pulpit, was one of
`cultivation'. He used that gift to cultivate the young, and the not so
young, with as much success as Mr. Rankin had used his cultivation skills
on his garden.
Within a year of his coming our new Pastor formed a company of the
Boys' Brigade, the first in a country Church in the district. Boys from
neighbouring Churches joined "1st Legacurry Company", thus forging many
firm and lasting friendships. Mrs. McCaughan became vice-president of the
Girls' Auxiliary and the following year she formed a branch of the Women's
The Memorial Fund for the Rev. T J.K. Rankin was opened at the end of
1950 and quickly exceeded �400. The Committee decided to use the money to
install electric heating in the Church. The Moderator of the General
Assembly, the Right Rev. H. McIlroy, BA, DD, performed the dedication
ceremony on 6 January 1952. The Church now had modern lighting and heating
systems but, as yet, mains water was not available, nor was there any
other source of water convenient to the Church. Although proper toilet
accommodation was discussed from time to time, without a water supply no
progress could be made.
Shortly before Christmas 1951, Mr. and Mrs. McCaughan presented a
silver baptismal bowl in memory of their son John William Lyons who was
born in July 1950 and died in February 1951. The Rev. J.H. Rankin of
Loughaghery performed the touching and beautifully simple dedication
ceremony. Baby John was the first child born to a minister while in
Legacurry, the first `manse' baby. Soon after came John's sister, Mary
McKay, known as Kay, then his brother James Alexander, known asJim. Kay
graduated from the New University of Ulster and became a school teacher.
She married the Rev. Ivan Hunter, BA, BTh, of Ballywatt Presbyterian
Church. Jim gave up his great love of football to become the Rev. J.A.
McCaughan, BSc, BD of lst Dunboe. He married Alison Turtle, MA, who is now
editor of "Wider World". Mr. and Mrs. J. McCaughan, senior, have three
Hunter grandchildren and three McCaughan grandchildren.
Mr. and Mrs. Victor White donated 150 cups and saucers for Church use
in 1952. From then on we were less inclined to borrow from our
neighbours-we were beginning to feather our own nest! In that year also a
Table Tennis club was formed in Deneight Hall. Apart from their Displays
which were held in the Day School, the Boys' Brigade used the Church hall
(the old schoolroom). Perhaps it was their many marching feet which wore
out the Hall floor which needed to be replaced. The new floor and a new
door cost �92.10.
Coronation year was a year to remember. A few of our members bought
their first Television Sets so that they could watch the event, in black
and white, in their own homes. A member of the Congregation who
represented Young Farmers' Clubs of Ulster at the ceremony in London
remembers that day as one of the wettest ever June days. The Committee
gave every Sunday School and Day School child a New Testament to mark the
occasion. At the end of the year the Girls' Auxiliary would have liked to
show the film "A Queen is Crowned" in the Church, but they were not
granted permission. The Session and Committee also refused the Down
Council's request to remove the hedge and ditch at the "crossroads" corner
of the graveyard to make the crossing safer for the increasing volume of
traffic. After a lot of discussion the Council resolved the problem by re-siting
the Cabra road to create the staggered crossing we have today.
More electrical appliances were becoming available. After twenty-five
years of hand pumping all the water used in the manse, the Committee
decided to install an electric pump in the wash house. The Women's
Missionary Association, the Boys' Brigade and the Table Tennis Club each
subscribed �1 to buy an electric boiler. People were becoming accustomed
to having electric light in their homes and farmyards and found the
darkness around the Church inconvenient. Therefore in 1955 the Committee
asked the Rural Council to provide public lighting at the crossroads. In
time, they did.
In those days more and more people were buying motor cars. With petrol
costing about 2/4d. per gallon (12 pence), people were able to travel
further a field and on Sunday mornings some liked to worship in other
Churches. So that our visitors would feel welcome the Session decided to
form a Reception Team to greet strangers and hand them one of the recently
purchased Visitors' Hymn Books of which we had a dozen. In May of that
year (1955) the Session decided to drop the Evening Services in the summer
months. The year ended with a week long Mission taken by the Rev. J. C.
Pedlow of Downpatrick.
We went `Public' for the first time on Plough Sunday, 15 January 1956,
courtesy of an invitation from the Northern Ireland Home Service. The
atmosphere was tense, the Church was filled, the organist, Maureen
Crothers, and choir were well prepared. Mr. McCaughan's apprehension
showed just a bit as we practised our singing and the technicians sited,
re-sited and tested their equipment, so that all would be exactly right
when the little light on the pulpit glowed `red' to tell us we were on the
By 7.45 p.m. all was ready, the red light came on and we went live.
Ernest Clarke, Clerk of Session, introduced the Service. He gave a short
description of our Church and Congregation and welcomed our neighbours and
visitors and all who were listening in their own homes. '
The Old Testament reading from Hosea Chapter 11, which tells of a
loving God anxious to forgive a sinful people, was read by Kenneth
McIlveen, a local farmer. The New Testament reading from St. Luke's Gospel
Chapter 9 verses 51- 62 was read by the World Champion Ploughman, Hugh
Barr. Mr. McCaughan delivered `the sermon of his life', which the
Congregation remembers well, from Hosea Chapter 10 verse 12, "Sow to
yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy, break up your fallow ground,
for it is time to seek the Lord."
We sang some of our favourite Psalms, "How lovely is thy dwelling
place", ' Ye gates lift up your head on high", "Good unto all men is the
Lord" and the Hymn, "Guide me, O Thou Great Jehovah."
Almost unexpectedly the little red light went out and we were off the
Air. Instead of feeling a great sense of relief we were amazed to discover
we had forgotten our apprehension and had simply enjoyed taking part in a
Letters of appreciation to Mr. McCaughan poured in from far and wide.
His former school mistress wrote, "In thought as I worshipped with you I
was sitting with your father and mother in the old home and was sharing
some of their pride and feelings as we listened to you." The Rev. A.F.
Moody, our third Pastor, commented that he was "impressed by the
appropriate and arresting sermon, the concise and comprehensive prayers,
and the Praise." The most beautiful letter of all came from an old lady in
North Shields - a longish letter, laboriously written and sincerely
meant... "thank you for that lovely service ... your prayers did me good
... your sermon did my soul good .. we are Pentecostals ... we are one in
Christ ... oh! for more like that."
We broadcast again in 1957 on the General Overseas' Service which was
heard by a young man from the Maze, a crew member aboard a tanker in
harbour in Singapore. He was twiddling with the knobs on his radio when
suddenly he heard his neighbour's voice! Our last broadcast was in 1959 on
the theme of a "Wedding Story" (St. John's Gospel Chapter 2). By that time
we were old hands!
Apart from the installation of electric light and heating, the Church
building had received no major attention for fifty years. Costly repairs
would soon be needed. Larger Church Hall facilities and proper toilet
accommodation were priorities. To prepare for all this forthcoming expense
a Property Fund was launched and has been afloat ever since. A target of
�2,000 was fixed. Plans to upgrade the stable to create a recreational
hall were abandoned in favour of building a permanent hall on the site at
an estimated cost of �2,500. The congregation decided not to go ahead with
a hall at that time as they were afraid they would not be able to find the
�2,500 besides the money needed for the Church repairs and toilet
When the mains water came out to Legacurry in 1958/59 the Property Fund
target was increased to �3,000 to provide a new wing to the gable of the
Session Room, to accommodate three separate toilet apartments on the
ground floor and an excellent kitchen on the first floor to serve the
Church Hall. (These modern conveniences came 100 years late to benefit the
pupils and master who first used the schoolroom!)
The Church building was closed during the summer of 1959 to enable the
major overhaul to go ahead. The interior was re-plastered and dry rot
eradicated. The choir was re-located to the right of the pulpit to leave
space at the front for a new organ and Communion chairs. Sunday services
were held in the Day School. The successful Tender was submitted by
members of the Congregation, Mr. Sam Andrews and his son Willie - their
price �2,600 plus the cost of the kitchen. Sam Andrews' name crops up
regularly in the Minutes of those years. "Sam Andrews to see to the
draught ... Sam Andrews repaired the ventilators free of charge ... Sam
Andrews volunteered to clean the spoutings ... Sam Andrews to make folding
tables ... Sam Andrews and George Cruikshanks put the slates on the roof
... Sam Andrews to do as he sees fits."
The Re-opening Services on 5 July were taken by the Right Rev. T.A.B.
Smyth, BA, DD, Moderator of the General Assembly and the Very Rev. A.F.
Moody, MA, DD, who was our Minister in 1909 at the time of the previous
overhaul. The Special Services continued over the next two Sundays. The
Very Rev. J.K.L. McKean, MA, DD, the Rev. John McCaughan, BA, and the Very
Rev. J.H.R. Gibson, MA, DD, all took part. The total collections amounted
to �430. Just as impressive as the list of eminent clergy, was the list of
thoughtfully chosen and necessary Memorials and Gifts which were dedicated
by the Moderator.
Organ - Presented by Mrs. S. Crothers, MBE, JP.
Minister's Chair - Presented by Mrs. M. White.
Two Elders' Chairs - Presented by Mrs. M. Cotter.
Baptismal Font - Presented by Mr. and Mrs. B. White.
Reading Desk - Presented by Mr. and Mrs. Jas. McClelland.
Set of Offertory Plates - Presented by Mr. T.H. Wilson.
Communion Chair - The gift of Miss Francis Gardner.
Communion Plates and Linen - The gift of Mr. and Mrs. H. Ferguson.
Pulpit Fall - The gift of Mr. and Mrs. J. C. Woods.
Vestibule Table and Two Chairs - The gift of Mr. and Mrs. W.E. Clarke.
Vase for Communion Table - The gift of the Rev. J.C.G. Ball.
Electric Clock for Church - The gift of Mr. and Mrs. D. Gardner.
Electric Clock for hall - The gift of Mrs. M. Hamilton.
Mats for Church and Convector Heater-The gift of Messrs. Smyth Patterson
Handrails for Church Steps - Made and given by Mr. John Caughey.
Church Notice Board - The gift of Mr. Kenneth McIlveen.
Gifts, from Organisations and Associations:
- Bible for Reading Desk and Church Hymnal for Pulpit - The gift of the
Sunday School Children.
- Carpeting for Church, Minister's Room, Choir Room and Covering for Aisles
- The Gift of the Choir and GA.
- Table and Chairs for Minister's Room - The gift of the WAFM.
- Electric water heater for new kitchen, etc. - The gift of the Legacurry
Branch of the Women's Institute.
- Convector Heater - The gift of 1st Legacurry Coy. Boys' Brigade.
- Our nest was well and truly feathered.
In September that year the first of several Annual
Flower Shows was
held in the Day School. There were flowers, fruit and vegetables, eggs,
cakes, bread and jams, embroidery, knitting and sewing, painting, drawing
and writing competitions, bran tubs, guessing games, handkerchief girls,
hot dogs, teas and ice cream. Around �100 was raised each year for the
Property Fund. There were other fund raising events, Concerts, Cake sales,
Treasure Hunts and Bring and Buy Sales, all of which aided the Property
The "Sixties" were perhaps the most eventful decade of our history so
far. They started with the Gymkhana which took place in Largymore on James
Gardner's farm. (James was a twice grand-nephew of Robert, our first
Elder). One field was filled with horseboxes, trailers, lorries and cars.
In another field there were tea tents, ice cream and mineral tents, and
Stewards' Tents. The auctioneer's rostrum was an open lorry and from it he
sold all his `lots'. The horses and ponies, large and small, trotted,
cantered and jumped their fences; some played musical chairs and some
showed their paces hackney style. One little chestnut pony was overcome
and ran away. A Pipe Band paraded in kilts. The children paraded in Fancy
Dress. The sun shone all day and the Property Fund benefited by nearly
On his return from visiting Canada, Mr. McCaughan treated everyone to a
very interesting and entertaining talk and slide-show of his tour. The
dedication of the Sunday School teachers to that decade might be measured
by their resistance to the closing of the Sunday School during July and
August. While commitment did take precedence over convenience, after some
years they agreed reluctantly to have an open Sunday School in July and to
close in August. During these years the Session considered whether women
could be allowed to act on the Congregational Committee.
The site for the car park opposite the entrance gates was donated by
Isaac Lyons. Until then cars parked along the Comber Road or in front of
the Church. As usual members got together and fenced, in-filled and
levelled and soon the park was in use. It turned out to have unexpected
benefits like being a convenient place for neighbours to exchange a few
remarks before going home. One could hear - or overhear - such comments as
"There's not many like our own wee man", "Our own wee man is hard to
bate", and so he is!
The "Mile of Threepenny Bits" in 1963 realised
�948. Whether it was an
Irish, English or Legacurry mile is not known. The idea was to cover the
distance from the Manse to the Church in threepenny bits. A company of the
Girls' Brigade was formed in 1964 as were the Life Boys which became the
junior Section of the Boys' Brigade. A Watch Night service was held on 31
December, 1967. The gist of the sermon was "leave behind in 1967 all that
was bad, take into 1968 all that was good." Children's Church started in
1969. It was much enjoyed by the children and much appreciated by their
parents! The Men's Fellowship and the Indoor Bowling club were formed in
the late 60's, and Senior Members' Parties were held for the first time.
Unsuccessful approaches were made to adjoining landowners for the
purchase of a site suitable for a Church Hall. St. Columba's Church were
selling their temporary Church building. A decision was made to purchase
this building and re-erect it on the old stables site, for use as a Church
Another major fund raising event was necessary, so the Farm Sale and
Country Fair was held in October 1969. Anything and everything that might
sell was there and was sold. There were cake stalls, garden produce and
grocery stalls, white elephant, household and work stalls, all under
canvas. Outside, kittens, puppies and kids, chickens and bantams all
awaited new homes. Farm implements, farm produce, livestock and animal
feeds were auctioned. Gallons of tea were consumed. The children manned
stalls and competitions of their own and our friends and neighbours all
lent their support. The total income was �1539.19.8 less expenses of �13.16.3, leaving a nett profit of
�1562.3.5 (about �12,500 in 1993). A
figure which Mr. McCaughan said "surpassed our fondest hopes financially
and demonstrated clearly that when the Church moves forward it has a great
army of friends and helpers."
The Christian Stewardship Campaign gave the "Sixties" a permanent place
in our Church's history. Discussions began in 1962. The Rev. J. Lavery of
Edengrove gave an interesting and convincing talk to the Session and
Committee in February 1963. A film on Christian Stewardship was shown in
March 1964. The following month the Rev. T.A. Patterson, Director of
Christian Stewardship helped to launch our Campaign. In the autumn the
Congregation sat down together to its first Family Meal in First Lisburn
Church Hall in Market Square where the Sermon of 1874 was held. The adults
had their meal in the main hall and the children were entertained by the
ladies of First Lisburn in another hall.
A Christian Stewardship Executive Committee was formed, every home was
visited and the Campaign explained. The Brochure of October 1964 describes
Christian Stewardship as "A Way of living, an approach to God, the proof
of our faith." The purpose of Christian Stewardship" is to secure - not
the Gift, but the Giver; not the Possession but the Possessor; not your
money, but You for God." Of the Church and Congregation it says, "The past
is honourable and the future bright, for the congregation is still
youthful in spirit and rich in faith and enterprise". The history of our
early congregation is described as "a thrilling example of a small band of
people, dedicated to the worship and service of God, who gave their time,
talent and money so that we who follow after are benefiting by their
foresight and sacrifices."
There have been many `Revivals' throughout Christian history-some of
them are remembered; some forgotten. The year 1965 saw the Revival of the
Congregation of Lisnastrean, and our Congregation has never been quite the
same again. The Annual Report of 1965 carried a Foreword by the Rev. J.
McCaughan; even in the following abridged form it says all that needs to
"There are two reasons why I have always been glad that Legacurry
Church was built at a cross-roads. The first is that a cross-roads
suggests choice, decision, action; and the second is that it is wonderful
to see men, women and children coming from the four points of the compass
to worship and dispersing to carry the Gospel truth and life in all
1965 has been Christian Stewardship year, and I am greatly
inspired by the response made to the challenge and emphasis o f the
Stewardship programme. How grateful I am for the wisdom and dedication of
those called to lead the committees and sub-committees; how encouraged by
the persuasive work done on various visits by our members to our members
explaining the scheme.
I can think of a long list of benefits that have flowed from
God's blessing on this venture. There has been the birth of a new sense
that `this is our Church', a realisation that there is a real place for
everyone in it; a new willingness to serve it; and a renewed, family sense
among the members. Our Church organisations have benefited, too;
additional workers and leaders have come forward, and a Men's Fellowship
I thank God for this spirit of interest and service, and for this
commitment. We must see to it that there is no easing off in our
Stewardship - which is the giving of our time, talents and money to Christ
and His Church.
To-day we need to know our Reformed Faith, be unashamed of it,
and charitable in commending it. We need to demonstrate it by our local
Church loyalty, our wider Christian charity, our community service and our
uprightness of character. God uphold us all in that.
May our Church at the cross-roads continue to make choices that
commend the Christian Gospel, and decisions that deepen the discipleship
and dedication to Christ of all its members. "
Where better to bring this story to an end? The story of how God dealt
with His people Israel, the people of His Church at the Crossroads, but
OUR story does not end. It goes on through the "seventies" and "eighties"
and into the "nineties", and God willing, on through the 21st century
Onwards and Outwards.
There are in our Congregation, at this moment in time, small children
whose forefathers were here in the early years, or, perhaps whose parents
came as recently as the 1990's. One of these children is the ideal person
to take up our story again around the year 2040 when the 150th Anniversary
Services, the Flower Festival, The Festival of Faith are all history, far
away in the previous century, barely remembered amid the progress and
activities of the 21st century, itself no longer new.