Mass in Ballintubber commemorates the ‘Women of Killer’

Tuesday night marked the 100th anniversary of the homecoming of four women from the Ballintubber area who were imprisoned in Castlebar for their part in anti-grazing agitation and on Sunday last the women known as the ‘Women of Killerr’ were commemorated at a special Mass in Ballintubber.   On Wednesday night, the 2nd of October 1907, according to newspaper reports from the time, one thousand people gathered at the train station in Ballymoe to welcome home Mary Kate Cooney, Mary Leonard, Margaret Kelly and her three month old baby and Nora Leech. The women were prosecuted at Ballintubber petty sessions on September 5th for intimidating two men and refused bail and so were sentenced to a month’s imprisonment. (For a full report on the 1907 homecoming, see page 44). The women’s action was supported by the United Irish League and members of the League travelled to Castlebar to meet the women on their release. Sunday’s Mass was celebrated by Fr. James Regan and at the outset of the Mass he outlined the history of the women who were being commemorated and praised the work of all those who were involved in the land struggle. A framed newspaper cutting showing the four women and the baby outside Castlebar Gaol on their release was also shown to the congregation. Speaking during the Homily, he likened the actions of the four women from Ballintubber to the case of the rich man and Lazarus, which was contained in the gospel. He said that the local women had seen an injustice and had taken action in respect of it. He went on to draw parallels with the monks in Burma who were protesting at the injustice of the military dictatorship. Over 20 descendants of the ‘Women of Killerr’ were present for the mass, including sisters Margaret Kelly, Elizabeth Curley and Delia Farrell. Their mother was Mary Kate Cooney, who following the events of 1907 went on to marry Nicholas Farrell. The couple had four daughters and three sons, with the three women present at Sunday’s Mass being the three surviving members of the family. Other descendants of Mary Kate Cooney present included Patricia Owens from Farragher, Fourmilehouse, Pat Kelly from Farragher and Rita Curley from Ballymacglancy, Castleplunkett. A large number of the descendants of Margaret Kelly were present. Among them were six grandchildren of Margaret Kelly, Martin Mullin, Mary Moylan, Helena O’Connell, Patrick Shaughnessy, Margaret Hoban and Eileen Hoban. Also present were two great grandchildren of Margaret, Dara and Caoimhe. The three-month-old baby who went to jail with her mother was Kate Kelly. She later emigrated to the US and married Jim McCabe. She died approximately fifteen years ago. She had two brothers Patrick, who lived at Cortoon, Ballintubber and Joe, who lived at Rath, Ballintubber. She had three sisters. Her sister Delia emigrated while her other sister were Mary Mullin of Corristoona and Lucy Shaughnessy of Killerr, Ballintubber. A niece and nephew of Mary Leonard currently live in Killerr and Mary Leonard and Michael Leonard were present at Sunday’s Mass. The Leech family emigrated to the US in the 1930s and it is not believed that any descendants were present at the Mass. Patricia Owens, a descendant of Mary Kate Cooney said that descendants of the families were delighted with the Mass and were very pleased with the opportunity to meet members of the other families involved. Outside, across from the Church, the cutting from Roscommon People detailing the events of 1907 as the four women were jailed, was nailed to the door of the former courthouse in Ballintubber. The building is now owned by local businessman Colm Daly, who organised Sunday’s Mass.eeting on suicide awareness and prevention in South Roscommon An information meeting to announce details of a special two-day training programme in suicide awareness and intervention to help parents and adults who work with teenagers in the South Roscommon/Athlone area, will take place on Wednesday night, October 10th at 9 pm in the Hodson Bay Hotel, Kiltoom. The meeting will give all parents and adults who work alongside teenagers in a sporting, educational or community environment the opportunity to learn more about the new training programme – known as ASIST – that is taking place in the South Roscommon and Athlone area at the end of October. ASIST stands for applied suicide intervention skills training and is a Canadian model of training co-ordinated by the HSE here in Ireland to try and help adults identify young people at risk from suicide and give them professional advice on how to try and protect lives being lost. The training programme itself runs over two full days and details of the contents of the training and the people it is aimed for will be outlined in the Hodson Bay next week at the information meeting. The meeting is organised by Roscommon Lions Club which is working in partnership with the HSE, County Roscommon Mental Health Association and AWARE to try and tackle the scourge of suicide in County Roscommon. So far this year more than one hundred and fifty parents and members of community and voluntary groups from the county have undergone the ASIST training at centres in Boyle, Roscommon, Castlerea and Ballaghaderreen through a programme partly funded by the Government’s Dormant Accounts board. There has been a particularly good response to the training from sports clubs and youth groups where adult leaders have regular contact with teenagers. ASIST has often been called a form of ‘first aid for suicide’ and the people on the course feel the training offers them a level of confidence and know how that they did not have previously in supervising and working with teenagers. The meeting in the Hodson Bay is aimed at all sports clubs and youth groups, schools and other organisations working with young people and young men in particular in the South Roscommon-Athlone area. The meeting starts at 9 pm on Wednesday, October 10th (which is World Mental Health Awareness Day) and will last for 90 minutes. Speakers will explain exactly what the training entails to all present and it will then be a matter for individuals to make up their mind if they are interested in taking part in ASIST on October 19th and 20th in South Roscommon. The Lions Club is asking every GAA, soccer and rugby club in the area to nominate representatives to go to the information meeting. For further information about the meeting please contact (090) 66 25626. For help or assistance at any time you can contact the Samaritans at 1859 907070.