A NEW ERA BECKONS AT BALLYMACASH
The Christian fellowship and stewardship which had categorized the
preceding decades in the district of Ballymacash saw its members welcome the
dawning of the Sixties with continuing spirit and vitality and with an
outlook which was to mark another era in the district's history. Hilary
Morrison was the honorary secretary of the Select Vestry at the time and he
has since served the Church in many capacities over the following thirty
years both at local level and at diocesan and national levels.
Norman Cochrane Barr who had arrived as Rector of Derriaghy Parish in 1961
addressed the first annual general meeting in St Mark's Hall on 8 May 1961
and spoke of the great potential which there was in the district with the
proposed housing developments which would undoubtedly increase the size of
the district served by St Mark's in Ballymacash. Such developments would
however place considerable pressure on the Parish as a whole and in
particular on its accommodation. or lack of it! A committee to act as an
advisory body outside the Select Vestry was formed to investigate such needs
and consisted of fourteen members.
Within a year the committee had put in
a great deal of necessary groundwork not least in the purchase of a few
acres to the rear of the old Church. Consideration was given to an addition
to the parochial hall and plans for making a car park near the Church.
the Second AGM of St Mark's held on Monday 14 May 1962 the Rector referred
to the valuable service which Rev John Terence Roche Rodgers had given since
his arrival in 1960 and took the opportunity to welcome Rev Adam Aubrey
Johns, a native of Co Monaghan and who had been ordained for the Parish of
Aghalee. With almost 200 families now in the parish Rev Barr told those in
attendance the continuing increase in the size of the parish was now leading
to the possibility that "St Marks would branch out as a Parish of its own in
the not too distant future."
While it may have taken the greater part of
the decade for Rev Barr's expectations to be fully realised for the Parish
of Ballymacash, in hindsight, the intervening decade was essential for the
laying of the foundation on which St Mark's could develop and prosper.
Over the next year there were a number of occurrences which gave the Rector
and the parishioners a great deal of encouragement including the increase in
the numbers attending communion. The attendance of eighty was almost double
that of the previous years while income showed a rise of around £200
compared with 1961 and now stood at nearly £1900 ( or in other words between
£9 and £10 per family per annum). Ninety-two were in the senior Sunday
School with an average attendance of between 75-80 while in the junior
Sunday School thirty were registered with an average attendance of over 25.
The Bible Class had also commenced with an encouraging nucleus of a dozen
Rev Johns who had taken a deep interest in the youth
organisations reported that the Brownies had 25 members, the Girl Guides had
16. There was shortly to be a change in the leadership of both the Cubs and
Scouts with Mrs Crawford taking the helm in the cubs and William Hankers the
new Scout Master and it was hoped that they would be given the same degree
of support which their predecessors had enjoyed.
The future status of St
Mark's within the framework of the Parish of Derriaghy was again the main
topic of the Fourth AGM in 1964. The Bishop had suggested that Ballymacash
should form a separate unit and preparations for such taking place began
with the finances of St Mark's being divided from those of the rest of the
Parish. However the cost of running St Mark's was estimated at £38 per week
at a time when income was remaining relatively steady.
The departure of
Rev Johns to become Rector of Billy brought Rev Terence Frederick Callan to
the Parish in charge of the Ballymcash district, having been Rector of Clogh
(Roslea). Born in Malta where his father was serving with the Royal Army
Service Corps, Rev Callan was educated at Carlow National School, Kings
Hospital and Trinity College Dublin. He had been ordained in 1957 and took
up curacy in Derriaghy on New Year's Day in 1964.
developments continuing in the area, average attendances at the services was
between 150-170 and it was reported the following year that the Diocesan
Council were to "look into the possibility" of St Mark's becoming a separate
Parish later in the autumn. The Select Vestry considered that it would be
opportune and appropriate to look for a more suitable house as a Rectory. It
was however still of some concern that 53 families contributed £1253 out of
a total of £1977 12s 10d, or put another way that those 53 families
contributed two-thirds of the district's income.
After interest had been
shown in the formation of an indoor bowling club, a club was started early
in 1964 in the dining room of Ballymacash Primary School by kind permission
of the Antrim County Education committee and a few members of Derriaghy club
also boosted the numbers.
The June 1965 magazine reported that the Mothers
Union annual outing to Portrush cost 17/6 though this was to cover the fare
As we entered 1966 consideration was being given through the medium
of the Derriaghy Parish magazine that due to the large attendances at
services in St Mark's it was being contemplated that a second Morning
Service would be required to meet the increasing demands of the 250
Rev Barr suggested at the 6th AGM on 27 April 1966 that it would not be
long before St Mark's was on its own and almost apologised that apart from
taking a few services there, such have been the demands placed on the
pastoral side by Christ Church, he was having to leave St Mark's more and
more in the very capable hands of Rev Callan. He also agreed that the
purchase of a larger house in the area as a rectory would further help to
establish St Mark's as an entity on its own.
Another pleasing aspect of
the parish at the time was the ever increasing number of young people being
brought forward for confirmation, almost seventy candidates in 1966.
Following the resignation of Walter Cowan as sexton Mr Glover took on the
position at a salary of £120 per annum.
It is important to note that as
the district of Ballymacash was poised to become a parish in its own right
the finances were to dictate whether or not it could function independently.
In 1966 it was reported that there had been a 12% rise in the income (£256)
with total income amounting to £2732 12s 4d. The surplus over the year's
working was £473 3s 7d. Consideration was to be given to the purchase of a
four- acre field belonging to parishioner Jacob Corkin on the Ballymacash
Road while an original offer for Mrs Hardy's house at 97 Antrim Road and
considered as a rectory had to be increased before being accepted at £7750.
Agherton Parish Church, Portstewart Co Londonderry
Reflections - Ballymacash
Together with my wife and three
children I arrived in Ballymacash on 1 January 1963. Having been Rector of
the rather remote Parish o f Clogh with Drumsnatt straddling the
Fermanagh/Monaghan border for the previous six-and-a-half years I was to
venture into the more populous church extension area as Curate Assistant o f
Derriaghy with special responsibility for St Mark's Ballymacash. The little
Church on the hill was our centre of worship, the old school on the
Ballymacash Road/Nettlehill Road was in use as a Church Hall and our house
was a semi-detached house on the Ballymacash Road.
an enthusiastic committee of men and the scope for work for the Kingdom o f
God wide and varied. New houses were springing up all the time and new
families being 'added to the Church' on a very regular basis. Due to a lack
o f accommodation the need arose for two morning services and as the number
o f children was rapidly expanding, running concurrently with the second
service of Morning Prayer, children's Church followed by Sunday School was
held in the Church Hall under the very capable leadership of Hilary T
Morrison. This he did with tremendous sensitivity to the opening minds and
hearts and souls o f children.
At the Church there was
valued assistance of the Reverend Canon AP Chamberlain, retired from a
Parish in Derry Diocese and much esteemed Kenneth Quinn whose family were
staunch members of Magheragall Parish. I conducted a Kindergarten
Sunday School in the afternoon and it was not long before we had to recruit
other teachers for this venture. In 1966 the fine present Rectory at 97
Antrim Road was purchased and our family had the privilege of living there
for three years.
The devotion to the little Church on the
hill was much in evidence, particularly at Harvest time. Decorating
operations began well in advance with the making o f the corn fringe and the
gathering of the foliage for the sanctuary window, all lovingly positioned
with ceremonious regularity year after year . The need for a new Church
became obvious as the Ballymacash end o f Derriaghy Parish rapidly expanded
and a Building Fund started.
Discussion and planning towards
independence were well underway with a grateful senses o f achievement and
St Mark's was granted independence after three years. Having become a Curacy
in charge we worked towards full independence for another three years and at
the end of this period full independence was granted by the Diocesan
Council. Alas, I was then nominated for the Parish of St Aidan, Belfast,
thus ending my six extremely happy years as Curate Assistant o f Derriaghy
and Curate in Charge of Ballymacash. If I have had a worthwhile input into
this sphere of Ministry, I am humbly thankful.
The Rev Canon
ST MARK'S TO BECOME
INDEPENDENT - THAT'S OFFICIAL
formal declaration from the Diocesan Office was received towards the end of
1966 confirming that the new parish of Ballymacash be instituted with effect
from 1 January 1967, the boundaries for the new Church being delineated on a
map but principally out of the Ballymcash area of the Parish of Derriaghy.
Approved stipend and locomotory allowance were fixed at £1000 and £200 per
annum. The Representative Body had also consented to accept the vesting of
Elmdene on the Antrim Road as the new Rectory.
A whole new era in the life
of the Church was dawning with a new Rectory just purchased to replace a
house bought a few years earlier. A service of introduction of Rev TF Callan
as curate in charge of the recently created Parish was conducted by Rev Barr
with the lesson read by Rev JJ Armstrong, curate asst Derriaghy. Rev Canon
TE Beacom, Registrar of the Diocese of Connor administered the Declarations
with the preacher the Rt Rev Dr RCH Elliott whose chaplain was the Rev RB
Livingston, curate in charge of St Columba, Derryvolgie.
In the March
magazine of 1967 with the old Church featured on the front cover - eight
advertisements brought in much needed income - Rev Callan explained that
despite St Mark's becoming a separate Parish, those who purchased grave
plots while the Church was under the control of Derriaghy would nevertheless
automatically retain these burial rights at the agreed scale for
parishioners. The Dramatic Society played to two packed halls in January
raising £65 for the Rectory Fund.
The first meeting of registered
vestrymen of the new Parish of Ballymacash was held on 4 January 1967 and
within three months the Easter Vestry reported that there were now some 300
families in the Parish. It was also rather optimistically suggested that
over the next 15-20 years there could be upwards of 700-800 families.
Cub pack had now increased to twenty boys while Basil Ritchie, whose late
father had received the same honour was to become the troop's first Queens
Badge holder. He was presented with his badge by Mr T Thompson ADC later in
the year. This was a well deserved honour not only for Basil himself but the
Ballymacash Scout Troop under the leadership of Gordon Knowles.
April 1967 Rev Callan moved from the curatage to the new Rectory at 97
Antrim Road for which the Parish received £5,000 from the RCB in respect of
A guest tea, which attracted just short of 500 to the Pond Park
Red Cross Hall, raised the net proceeds of £237 13s. A St Mark's cake was
presented by the Regal Bakery while other popular features were the P4 of
Ballymacash Primary School on their recorders, tambourines and xylophones,
the Minnowburn Male Voice Choir and the Villagers and Bob McCormack.
magazine also reported the imminent departure of Mr and Mrs Kenneth Quinn to
Uganda. Mr Quinn a Sunday School teacher and Diocesan lay reader had
obtained an engineering post with the then Ministry of Overseas Development.
At a meeting of the Select Vestry on 19 September 1967 Rev TF Callan
suggested that while the parish had been most grateful for the help which
Mrs Muldrew and Mrs Callan had given by offering their services, the time
was ripe to appoint an official organist and it was to be reported that the
services of Mrs Geddis as official assistant organist had been acquired for
£30 per annum.
William McKelvey, from St Mark's, took part in the World
Scout Jamboree held in Idaho in which 102 countries were represented.
10 September 1967 the new service for Holy Communion which increasedthe
degree of participation in the Sacrament was introduced.
In the latter
part of the year Rev Callan suggested through the medium of the magazine
that the present parochial hall was now insufficient to meet the demands of
the growing congregation in, St Mark's and was placing constraints upon
further development of the various orgainsations. Some £60000 would however
be required to build a new hall with conventional materials.
meeting to discuss this problem was arranged for 14 November and the parish
had reveived £1292-6-7 in respect of the half share of the sale of the
curatage on the Ballymacash Road.
A new prayer desk presented by Mrs I
Corken in memory of her husband Cecil and a new lecturn from the Parish of
Derriaghy were dedicated on 26 November by Rev Arthur Noble, Rector of
Christ Church and the new Rural Dean.
The Parish agreed to present both
Miss Georgina McClure and Miss Nan Lavery with a beautifully bound and
suitably inscribed Bible as a token of their service as teachers in the
Sunday School. Miss McClure had given fifty years of unstinting service
while Miss Lavery had served for 47 years.
discussion over the previous months as to the type of building which would
best fulfil the needs of the parish not only at the present but perhaps more
importantly in the future, it was agreed at a vestry meeting on 16 January
1968 that the new building should be a dual-purpose one and not solely a
church building with the voting 11 to 1. A building fund account was later
The Parish was shocked by the death of William Richardson during
his year as the Rector's Churchwarden. Mr Richardson had given sterling
service to the Parish and had held every office open to laymen in the
Church. On his death in addition to being the Rector's Church warden and
synodsman he was also a transferor's representative on Ballymacash Public
Elementary School which he had also served loyally. A prominent member of
all the institutions which he served with dignity and loyalty he was not
ashamed to take his place in Church or in his lodge regularly whether in
office or not. A Sanctuary chair was later to be presented in memory of Mr
Richardson and a second chain by Mr Walter Refausse.
It was reported that
when the Bishop of Connor attended the parish for the Confirmation Service
on 3 March 1968 that it was the first time, as far as one knows, that a
confirmation service had actually been held in the Church.
candidates in all were confirmed: R Hewitt, S Watson, R Corbett, A
Nettleship, P & R Carson, T Kelly, J Chapman, G Nawn, F Duffin, K Moorehead,
P Jeffers, G Corbett, J Belshaw, N McAleenon, Misses P Doyle, L Fletcher, E
Murphy, P Donaldson, L Corbett, B White, P Abernethy, W Heasley, J McAleenon,
E Belshaw, E Dougherty, R Fair, B Duncan, E McBride, P Nicholl, E Parke, A
Belshaw, L McDowell, S Nawn, J Lewis.
Friday 3 May saw a presentation
being made to W Stewart Gamble to mark not only his many years of Cubbing
and Scouting in both the Parish and the District but also in Lisburn and Co
Antrim. He was a Cubmaster for 25 years, Scoutmaster for 2 years, Group
Scoutmaster of 1st Ballymacash for 10 years and ADC for Lisburn & District
for 10 years. Stewart had gained his Scout Wood Badge in 1947 and the Medal
of Merit in 1959. Wesley Duncan presented Mr Gamble with an easy chair to
mark his retirement from full-time Cubbing and Scouting and as a mark of
respect in recognition to the service he had given to the organisation
After a visit on 27 May 1968 by Rev Noble and Dr Wilson from the
Church Extension Committee it was decided that other Churches in the Diocese
should be visited before coming to any firm conclusions as to the new
Church. It was however quite ironic that one of the first Churches visited
was to be Immanuel Church in Ardoyne where Rev TWW Jones - later to spend
eighteen years in Ballymacash and make an invaluable contribution to St
Mark's - was Rector.
Having appointed WD & RJ Taggart as Architects and
envisaging a total cost of around £40,000 three schemes were outlined on 19
August 1968. However the Diocesan Council informed the Select Vestry that
the cost of building the new Church had to be kept below £30,000. Although
much toing and froing between the interested parties took place it would be
quite wrong to suggest that this was the only thing which was going on in
The magazine featured a photograph of the old Church and
listed the details of services and organisations on its front cover while on
the rear cover a number of local advertisers assisted with the cost of the
publication. Some are sadly no longer with us eg C & T Hardy, Bow Street
while others like J & D Murphy and the Pond Park Service Station still
Miss Heather Murphy, Miss Dorothy Doyle and Miss
Rosemary Chapman were each featured in the local newspapers when they left
the choir and Sunday school on the eve of their marriages and their service
to the Parish was recognised in a presentation made by Miss McClure. The
Sunday School opened a new session in September seeking to maintain the high
numbers on its rolls (e.g. 92 in the morning with 87 in regular attendance).
During the months of May and June some 345 households were visited. "Each
family was asked to aim at an average of 2/6 or 3/- per week and this " it
was reported "would see us through many of our financial difficulties."
Whether or not the badminton club was actually founded around this time is
to all intents and purposes up for debate I suppose but parishioners were
invited to join the Black Hall in Pond Park Road as facilities weren't
sufficient in the old hall.
Peter Kerr one of the parishioners was chosen
to represent the Connor Diocese at the 4th British Conference of Christian
Youth while John Sturgeon was to issue an appeal to parishioners to collect
all their used stamps - their 5d postage stamp had just been launched - in
order that this could be another part of the fund raising activities for the
With progress being relatively slow to say the least it was
however encouraging that forty attended the first meeting of the Young Wives
Fellowship and a working committee was established under the group
leadership of Audrey Gifford, Joyce Lynn as secretary and Heather Cranston
The end of the year saw the end of yet another piece of the
history of St Mark's with the old organ, which had remained unused since the
new organ had been installed about ten years previous, finding a new home in
Killegar Parish in County Leitrim. The Rector of Killegar Rev TR Jennings
actually collected the organ himself.
Before the first anniversary of the
launch of the Building Fund it had soared to £2050 and the Bishop was now
taking considerably more interest in the project after problems had been
experienced with the Diocesan Council and the Church Extension Committee.
But there remained a great deal of concern as to the state of the parochial
hall which was not improving with the advancing years.
It had served the
community first as a Primary School erected by the Johnston family of
Ballymacash House who made the gift of the building back in 1913 to the
Parish of Derriaghy through the Connor Diocesan Board of Education. With
further extensions it continued to be used extensively by the parish
On 21 April 1969 application was made for the parish to be
raised from a curacy in charge to a full incumbency and attendances at the
various Church Services continued to be particularly healthy with around 360
attending both the services on Mothering Sunday. It was soon agreed that the
two morning services at 10.30 am and 11.30 am should be amalgamated to one
at 11.00 am because of the success of the Childrens Church under Hilary
Morrison, although the 10.30 am service had been in existence for the past
The figure of £40000 which had been verbally
confirmed by the Rural Dean over the telephone was formally approved on 23
June 1969 and the magazine was used to give parishioners some idea of the
undertaking which they were considering. Although approximately half of the
costs of building the new Church would be borne by the Representative Church
Body (RCB) on an interest free loan (ie the Parish does not make repayments
for the first ten years) the Diocesan Council will give a grant of £8000 or
a quarter of the building costs, whichever is the lower, and which does not
have to be repaid. It was therefore reasonable to suggest that a figure of
£5,000 should be reached in the Building Fund by the time the Church is
ready for use.
The July/August 1969 magazine was the final one to bear the
picture of the old Church on its front cover. It was replaced in the
September edition by an artist's impression of the proposed frontage of the
new Church. In just fifteen months £2748 5s 1 Id had been raised by direct
giving ...a remarkable feat by anyone's standards. Before the year was out
the Parish had been formally granted full incumbancy status after a meeting
of the Diocesan Council on October 2.
Rev TF Callan was to be instituted
as Rector of St Aidan's Parish in Belfast, in succession to Rev C Jameson on
2 January 1970 after having spent six years in Ballymacash during which the
Parish had grown from about 160 families to just under 400, the plans for a
new church building were well underway and the Primary School had grown with
an additional three teachers and additional classrooms.
Just as the new
decade was dawning on the Parish about to welcome its first Rector, the
Church was also celebrating the Centenary of its Disestablishment.
Farewells and presentations were made to Rev Callan on his departure at a
social evening on 30 January. He received a handsome oak-mounted barometer,
suitably inscribed in addition to a box of chocolates for the children and a
cheque while other gifts included a travelling alarm clock from the bunnies.
The Mothers Union presented Mrs Callan with a beautiful handbag and gift,
while the Young Wives treated her to an evening in the Woodlands Hotel.
The March magazine featured a letter from the Rev Thomas William Warren
Jones as Rector-elect. Addressing his new congregation as "my dear friends"
he recollected that "we left Ballymacash in 1956 with one boy and we return
now with three in all - Keith, Neville and Ashley."
always had a reputation for friendliness" he continued. He became St Mark's
first Rector being instituted on 5 March 1970 and despite only having
arrived in the district a few weeks earlier, he was to preside over his
first Easter General Vestry on 1 April 1970.
Rev Jones' arrival in the Parish was to mark a period of almost two
decades of change on a grand scale with Rev Jones at the helm and which was
probably only brought to an end by the Rectors continuing ill-health. Born
in 1925 and educated at Trinity College Dublin Rev Jones was ordained in
1949 and served his first curacy in Shankill Parish, Lurgan before moving to
Derriaghy in 1954 where he was to serve under Rev Patrick Ashton Gregg
Sheppard who had been rector there since 1946. It was while curate in
Derriaghy Parish that he was to have his first association with the
Ballymacash district. During his couple of years in the area the much
revered old church on the hill was to be extended and consecrated.