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On Sunday evening March 25 1866, the two children of the schoolmaster Mr St George, were playing near the fire together in the Mission School (now Scoil Fhursa), when suddenly there was an explosion. The elder child burnt his hand. His injuries put him into a ‘very precarious position’. I am not sure how serious that was, but the story took an insidious turn when it was given out that ‘some malicious person climbed on the roof, and threw a packet of gunpowder down the chimney.’
Even though it was in the furthermost parish of Archbishop MacHale’s large Tuam archdiocese, once he realised the permanency and the extent of the Protestant settlement on Achill Island (built and directed by the fervent Rev Edward Nangle in the 1830s),* the archbishop was consumed with fury. He waged a belated but rather terrifying campaign to have it scorned and ignored by the island’s 6,000 residents.
Irishmen and Irishwomen who have died in past wars and on service with the United Nations on peacekeeping missions will be honoured at a ceremony at NUI Galway at 11am on Sunday July 10.