John McCullagh April 28, 2005
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It was about that time that the Bishop of Dromore, the Rev Edmund Mulhern went to his eternal rest. Our new bishop, a Derry man, Eugene O’Doherty was to be ordained in Newry Cathedral. This was great cause for celebration!

 All the streets of the town were adorned with papal-coloured bunting. In Chapel Street Niall McAteer was in charge of decorations, celebrations and the reception of our new Bishop to the area. He would, of course be visiting St Mary’s Chapel.

A collection was organised in the area.  A gift would have to be presented to the new Bishop!

On the day, Chapel Street was thronged – old and young alike turning out in huge numbers. With friends of mine, the McKevitts and the Carrs I was perched on top of some tomb in the old cemetery! It was adjacent and parallel to the street and this was a well-chosen perch, away from the throngs but with a magnificent view!

There were many false alarms – the imminent arrival being several times presaged – before the cortege hove into view. Niall for his efforts was to be rewarded with the honour of presenting the Blackthorn Silver-Topped walking stick to Bishop O’Doherty. He wasn’t about to be deprived of his moment of fame, and every time a car turned into the low end of the street, Niall started practising his well-prepared speech before the huge crowd.

 

So busy was he practising that he was caught unawares when the Bishop finally did arrive! However after a false start, he launched again into his prepared text. At the appropriate time he turned to reach for the Blackthorn for presentation to the elevated cleric. Unfortunately it had suddenly disappeared!!

There was much consternation and a great deal of a hullabaloo. Finally, as the Bishop’s car moved on a bit, it was found lying in the roadway beneath it. Whether accidentally or on purpose, someone had kicked it under the vehicle at the most inopportune moment.

The presentation, complete with speech was finally delivered and all went home contented. The episode was talked about for months, with Niall casting suspicious glances in all directions!!

… Dublin on General Holiday ? …

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