Ties to the Killanin Bell

The old church Tower

Ties to the Killanin Bell
On one of my visits home to Galway, I went to visit the grave of my Aunt Kate McDonough in the new cemetery in Killanin.  As I stood looking at the beautiful headstone her son William had erected on her grave, I said a few prayers. I remembered when I was a child and visiting my grandmother Mary (Clancy) O’Halloran in Corranellistrum.  She would tell me about my grandfather Thomas, the man I feel so proud to be named after, and that he was buried in the old Killanin cemetery. As I looked up at the bare walls of the church and the missing roof, the empty bell tower with a cross mounted on top looked like an antenna for sending a message to God. I wondered if the bell had rung out for my grandfather when he was buried. Lots of thoughts went through my mind as to whom might have pulled the rope to ring the bell, because I remembered looking at an old photo of the church where I could see a cable that went from the bell to the ground down the outside of the front wall. I enjoyed my vacation and returned home to New York.
When reading some newspapers one day, I learned about the bell and where it ended up in New Jersey. I got a copy of the news article and sent it home so it could be displayed in the Killanin church hall. I thought that was the end of the story until I happened to mention the bell to my big brother Sean Monahan. He said, “Sit down, and I will fill you in on how that bell ended up in New Jersey.” He said he received a letter from a lawyer in New York asking if he would remove the bell from the old church and ship it over to New York. I said, “Did you?”  He said, “Will you wait for a minute and I will tell you the story, but first let’s have a cup of tea.”
I sat down at the round glass table in his kitchen, and he continued, “You remember John Joe Connelly, one of the lads who worked for us. Well, John Joe and I went down and set up the long ladder in front of the old church. Although he said that I would not be able to do it now, I climbed the ladder. John Joe held the ladder at the bottom, while I tied a rope to the bell and removed the bolts. I let the bell down little by little as I held on to the rope until the bell reached the ground. John Joe and I put it into the back of the truck, and brought it home where I build a wooden crate. Then I shipped it to Shannon where it was flown over to New York.
I thought that I should tell this short story about how we Monahans had some little ties to the Killanin Bell.
Thomas Monahan

This page was added on 20/04/2018.

Comments about this page

  • I was completely amazed to read your story, because my father (Pat Maloney) had the bell shipped to our house in New Jersey where it was cherished for years and is now at my home. Please send me your email address and I can send you a picture of the bell and more details about our memories of Ireland and our home that proudly looks up at the Old Killannin Church!

    By PJ Maloney II (03/02/2019)

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