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Confirmation in Antrim Parish, 11th March 2011

Maureen Shannon Interview

It’s a bright early afternoon and Maureen Shannon is talking about her life. Quickly proving that she’s still as sharp as a tack, she makes it crystal clear that she would be no passive participant. Wasting no time, Mrs Shannon asks a variety of questions to do with the wellbeing of a local family, displaying the genial inquisitiveness that bonds Antrim’s community, and many others like it, together so closely.

Her living room and mantelpiece are decorated with a number of ornaments, religious trinkets and photos, all displaying the life of a woman whose world revolves around her friends, her family and her God.

Born on the 26th November 1922, Mrs Shannon is the product of a different era and is no stranger to tough times. Despite this, she remains adamant that tougher times were happier times. She says, “Oh aye, people were definitely much happier in those days. We didn’t have much, but we appreciated what we got. Young folk these days get everything and appreciate none of it”.

She has spent her entire life in Antrim, living in Castle Street and then moving to her current home in 1986. Living in such close proximity to St Comgall’s, “In the shadow of the church” as her father would often say, meant that her early life revolved heavily around religion.

“We were at Sunday Mass whether or not there was anything going on, even football matches”, she says.  “You had to attend all the Masses that were going. Two on a Sunday, and then back for Devotions in the evening. Whether or not you were going anywhere, you had to be back for Devotions”.

There is an obvious lament over the lapse of religion as the gel that holds families together, and particularly its influence on the younger generation, as she goes on to say, “There’s less respect, they don’t pray enough. In my family anyway, I brought them all up well, or at least we thought so. We made sure they went to mass and we didn’t send them, we went with them”.

In her own words, her faith is, “the be all and end all”. She goes on to muse that, “Nowadays sometimes people would ask you how you were and you’d say, ‘Aye, I’m alright today that’s what prayer does for you’ and they’d turn up their noses at you”.

Music and singing are also large parts of Mrs Shannon’s life. She explained that she had been part of the church choir from an early age and was often called upon to sing at events such as the laying of the foundations of St Comgall’s Primary School. Although the onset of age has meant that her singing days are mostly behind her, she still harbours a strong passion for music and song.

Her face lights up when asked about any memories that stick out as being particularly cherished. “Probably my wedding day,” she says, “that or the day my children were born”. Her husband, like her, was also heavily involved with the community. “He was always about doing something when he wasn’t working on the railway, which was a good job back in those days” she says before going on to speak of her children. Having had nine children in total but unfortunately losing one before its birth, her family is of great importance to her and there’s no mistaking the pride in her voice as she described their upbringing.

Despite having lived through some of the worst periods in Northern Irish history, particularly the years of the Troubles, Mrs Shannon has said that the worst of the atrocities largely passed over the Antrim community, “We were never affected by that much here. Everyone here is in a close-knit community and keeps themselves to themselves, religion was never an issue for us”.  And despite the constant march of time, Mrs Shannon has proven herself to be smart, funny and warm whilst showing absolutely no signs of slowing down.

Making a Difference Course Makes for Big Hit with Antrim Locals

The Making a Difference course is making a splash with the local residents of Antrim parish.

Held on a monthly basis in St Comgall’s parish hall, the course is focused primarily on strengthening the faith of the community and encouraging residents to work together towards a better future together.

Antrim resident and group member Catherine McGuigan commented on the course saying, “It’s about bringing the community together, developing faith and listening to other people’s opinions and views”.

““I think it’s to get people more aware of what the parish people can do for themselves,” says fellow member Billy Darby. He adds, “It’s about listening to people from different areas of the church. It’s very good and it’s challenging”.

The course features guest speakers from all walks of community life, both lay and clergy and gives community members the chance to discuss and air their own views and perspectives on parish activity.

Seamus Kearney, another member of the group said, ““I’ve been along to a few of the meetings. It’s about having a look at the parish and how to get involved. You can listen to the speakers and then have your own say”.

The course offers an opportunity for anyone to get involved and to share ideas, pitch in and get involved personally with the direction of the community. Catherine McGuigan added, “It started off about developing our faith and getting interested in pastoral care, but I think it’s become much more than that”.

For anyone interested or for more information, the Making a Difference course is advertised in the Parish bulletin and details will be read out at Sunday Mass .

What is the Parish Policy on Church Door Collections in the Parish


In consultation with the Parish Finance Committee, it has been agreed that the parish policy is to try and accommodate two church door collections each year for charities from outside the Parish. Requests to take up such a collection should be put in writing for consideration by 31st October of the year prior to the collection being taken up, unless there are exceptional circumstances.

140th Celebration in pictures

Pictures taken at the Parish of Antrim 140th anniversary  celebrations which took place  in the Parish on Sunday, 14th November 2010. The Celebrations began with a photographic exhibition and were concluded by Evening prayer which was led by Bishop Treanor.

Bazaar Back in Town

The Spirit of Christmas Past returned to Antrim last December with the staging of the traditional Christmas Bazaar in St Joseph’s Hall Greystone. After an absence of some ten years it was apparent from early in the afternoon that the event hadn’t lost any of its former attraction. A great crowd from every corner of Antrim Parish, from Ballyarnot to Tannaghmore and from Milltown to Muckamore turned out to enjoy the hustle and bustle of activity.

With great bargains to be had at the bakery and bric a brac stalls, and total  delight from the winners of the many valuable prizes being promoted from the stage, there was much merriment all around and everyone enjoyed the welcome sit down and chat with a cup of tea and traditional fare.

For the children there was plenty in the way of excitement with games, face painting, food and, of course, the much anticipated arrival of Santa, who made his way through the Arctic conditions with the help of a police escort. Despite his busy schedule, Santa stayed long enough to ensure that every child got a chance to meet him and place any special requests.

Parish priest Fr Emerson expressed his delight and that of his colleagues at the massive success the day had brought and paid tribute to the sizeable army of volunteers who had combined to create that success. He especially thanked the local traders for their magnificent support and all who attended, most of whom had finished the afternoon somewhat lighter of pocket.

While the money raised was always welcome in the challenging times we now experience, Fr Sean was all the more delighted with the coming together of the Parish Community on such an enjoyable occasion.  He promises, the 2011 Bazaar will be even bigger and better!