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Chimes are changing in Killyman

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Chimes are changing in Killyman thumbnailThe eight bells at St Andrew's Parish Church Killyman.

THEY are often heard but never seen... until now!

Earlier this year the bells of St Andrew's Parish Church in Killyman were were refurbished at a cost of 2,480.

How the bells came to Killyman to chime is a fascinating story.

For it was 50 years ago this month that the bells first came to Killyman Parish Church and it was recorded in the Tyrone Courier on 10th May, 1967.

Doreen Simpson, bell ringer and former secretary at St Andrew's Parish Church, Killyman, told the Courier that in 1967, a gallant group of young men travelled from Killyman to Tipperary on behalf of St Andrew's Church, Killyman and returned with eight church bells.

Just over half a century ago the Church's bell was cracked and with the cost of repair too high, things looked bleak for the Parish.

However, all hope was not lost; the then Rector, the Rev Dermot W Griffith reached out to a bell expert in Drogheda, a Mr Dukes, who informed him of a "peal of bells" near Tipperary in a derelict Church that Killyman may be able to repurpose.

Having got permission from the relevant authority in Drogheda, the Rev Griffith issued an appeal at the pulpit for assistance in transporting the bells back to Killyman.

That appeal was answered and more, as 25 men signed up to help. One of the men even provided the use of his lorry for the trip.

Speaking 25 years ago, the Rev remembered the trip fondly.

"Mr Dukes had told us it would take four days to complete the trip so we told our loved ones that is how long it would take and off we set in two groups," he recalled.

"A group of 12 of us left on the Sunday night while 13 of us went on the Monday.

"On the Sunday night we bribed a waitress to wake us early. We where on the site as early as 6am.

"To our surprise the operation to extract the bells went beautifully."

He continued: "We cut the Oak beam and lowered them with a pulley. By 4pm we had the bells wrapped in Moygashel cloth and ready for the journey home.

"We didn't quite know what to do with our remaining three days. We went back to our hotel that evening and found a reception put on in a local school for us and we had a lovely time.

"We returned to Killyman triumphant. Mr Graham, who built the M1 extension, offered to send his machinery and raise the bells into the tower.

“At the same time we also put out a call for bell ringers to play our new bells. Ringers young and old and both men and woman formed our ringing team and within days had learnt to play a great number of hymns."

In the parish magazine at the time he remarked: "I couldn't help feeling that our party resembled a bunch of schoolboys going away together at the end of term.

"I feel that we were all drawn much closer together in fellowship."

The bells were dedicated on 29th June, 1967.

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