Rectors at Tamlaght O’Crilly Lower Church

The Tamlaght O’Crilly parish was largely settled in the plantation era by English settlers.  But later, the breaking up of the border clans, resulted in many Scots settlers moving to the area. 

Rectors at Tamlaght O’Crilly Lower Church

tyanee chapel ease greenlough
Tamlaght O’Crilly Lower Church, approx. late 1920s

The descendants of these settlers still flourish in the district to this day.  Tamlaght O’Crilly Lower Church – or to give it it’s official title, St Nossonus’ Church of Ireland – caters for parishioners in the southern part of the Tamlaght O’Crilly parish.  The small rural church sits just outside the village of Innisrush.  It was originally known as Tyanee Chapel of Ease and opened it’s doors in 1775.   Many curates and reverends have preached in the church over the past two centuries. Nearly all of them were educated at Trinity College in Dublin.  A few of the ministers died while in the job, and several are buried in the churchyard. Some, through their kindness and decency, gained much respect, and left their mark in the history of the local community.   

Mark Bloxham, 1826 to 1849

The Reverend Mark Bloxham, M.A., T.C.D., was born in Dublin.  He preached some 23 years in Innisrush, from 1826 until his death in 1849. He was a prolific letter writer, regularly forwarding his views to the Dublin newspapers. Bloxham also tried his hand at poetry writing, publishing a book of poems in early 1835, called ‘Paradise Regained, and other Poems‘. He raised a large family (of at least 8 children), with his wife Caroline Anne Collins, but died at only 53 years of age, on the 10th April 1849.  He is buried in the graveyard at Tamlaght O’Crilly Lower.  His father, Mark Bloxham Senior, was a famous army officer and later Lord Mayor of Dublin from 1816 to 1817.

John Waring, 1849 to 1881

The Reverend John Drysdale Waring, M.A., T.C.D., was born in Kilkenny, around 1817.  He went to Trinity College in Dublin in 1837. In 1842, he was awarded a BA degree. The following year he was ordained as a Deacon.  In 1844 he was serving as Curate in St. Thomas Dublin; and the subsequent year was appointed as the honourary Canon in Meath. In 1849, John Waring began working at Innisrush Church.

Waring preached in Innisrush for over 30 years, from 1849 to 1880. His brother Arthur Waring was also a preacher, and served many years in the Parish of Desertmartin. Both men shared a passion for astronomy and geology.

He was married twice.  His first wife, Jane Waller, died young (in 1860, in only her 45th year).  His beloved second wife Eliza Waring also pre-deceased him, dying 17th May 1877. Eliza was 63 years old.  On the gravestone her husband writes “She died loved and lamented by all her knew her”.

John Drysdale Waring carried on preaching for another two and a half years, stepping down in 1880.  The preacher died at 72 years old on the 5th November 1889. He is buried in the graveyard alongside his wife.


Samuel Scott Frackelton, 1881 to 1909

The Reverend Samuel Scott Frackelton, M.A., T.C.D., was born around 1831 in Dromore, County Down.  His father, John, had opened a store in Dromore in 1800. They were a well known and highly respected family, and would later have a store in Belfast.

Samuel Scott Frackelton was educated at Trinity College in Dublin.  He achieved his M.A. in the mid 1850s.  His initial work took him to England, where the young Frackelton was curate under Canon Hume, in a busy parish in Liverpool.

In November 1858, Samuel Frackelton was awarded the perpetual curacy of Magherahamlet Parish Church, This new job paid the tidy sum of 120 pounds per annum.   On 5th November 1860, in Holywood Church, he married Mary Sarah McCutcheon. 

Samuel Frackelton preached in Magherahamlet until 1881. But after spending some 22 years in the rural County Down parish, he moved northwards to Tamlaght O’Crilly Lower. The rector, with his much loved wife Elizabeth, arrived in Innisrush in 1881.

Samuel Frackelton, and his wife Elizabeth, gained much respect in their Tamlaght parish. The rector oversaw two significant renovations to the church, in 1887 (internal overhaul of the church), and in 1898 (building of the vestry addon).

The clergyman took a close interest in rural life, notably farming.  He was well-known for standing up for the poor and the disadvantaged, with specific interest in standing up for the rights of tenants. Samuel and Elizabeth were philanthropists, always trying to help those in need.

He would reside in the area for 30 years, until his passing, at 80 years of age, on Saturday 29th July 1911. 

He was one of the most beloved rectors to have ever stepped into the pulpit at Tamlaght O’Crilly Lower.  On his death, a specially convened meeting of the church vestry, in complete silence, passed the following resolution:

“That we, the members of the select vestry of the parish of Tamlaght O’Crilly Lower, beg to convey to Mrs. and Miss Frackleton our sincere sympathy in their recent bereavement in the death of our much-esteemed, and revered rector and their beloved husband and father, and pray that God may comfort and sustain them in their sad loss and heavy trial.”

Samuel Frackelton is buried alongside his wife Elizabeth, in the country churchyard at Innisrush. 


Thomas Kelly, 1909 to 1911

The Reverend Thomas Kelly was the second son of Mr. and Mrs. T. Kelly, of County Monaghan.  He was educated at a private school and subsequently at Trinity College in Dublin, where he graduated with a B.A. in 1904 and then later embarked on an M.A. degree. He was ordained in 1904, and, after holding curacies in the Diocese of Down and Connor, he came to the Diocese of Derry and Raphoe in 1909 as curate of Tamlaght-O’Crilly Lower.

After two years there he went to Mountcharles, County Donegal, where be was rector for six years. In 1917 he was appointed rector of Ponagitnore, where he spent seven years before going, in 1924, to Donagheady, where he was rector until 1931 when he was appointed rector of Banagher. He became rector of Faughanvale in 1938, and he was later appointed Canon of Derry Cathedral.

Canon Kelly was an elder brother of the late Rev. Canon James Kelly, M.A., Rector of Dungiven, who died in November last. He was a member of the Derry and Raphoe Diocesan Council and of the General Synod of the Church of Ireland. Be was a member of the Masonic Order and Chaplain of Willsboro’ Masonic Lodge and also Chaplain of Donemana Orange Lodge. He was a chaplain to the Forces at Eglinton during the war.

The Reverend Kelly died, at 74 years of age, at his home in Portrush on Sunday 7th January 1951.   He had worked until four years previously, as rector of Faughanvale parish in County Londonderry.  He had been ill for some nine months prior to his death.  His wife, who survived him, was a daughter of the Rev. F. Hilary, B.A, Clabby (in Clogher Diocese).  He had a daughter, Mrs. J. Hamill of Portstewart, as well as an elder brother, Mr. H. Kelly, M.BC., Bangor, County Down.


John Donnelly, 1911 to 1922

john donnelly innisrush
Signature of Reverend John Donnelly

The Reverend John Donnelly, M.A. T.C.D., was a native of Ballintoy in North Antrim. He was the second son of John Donnelly senior.  The reverend studied at Trinity College in Dublin. 

Before coming to Innisrush, Donnelly was curate at Taughboyne, St. Johnston, Derry.  He had previously held curacies in Portaferry and Belfast. 

He served in World War One as a Lieutenant in the Royal Irish Rifles. His two brothers also fought in the war.  Lieutenant John A. Donnelly was in the R.A.F. and killed in action during 1918.  Major Frank Donnelly, M.C., Royal Engineers, the other brother, came home safely from the war.  Both brothers were connected with the telegraph department of the G.P.O. in Belfast.

Once the war ended, the Reverend Donnelly returned to Innisrush and resumed his ministry.  He was a stout believer in the temperance movement and was an enthusiastic worker for it’s cause.

The Reverend Donnelly served in Innisrush for 11 years, from 1911 until his death on Wednesday 2nd August 1922. He was in his 43rd year, and left behind a widow and two children.


William George Seymour Conner, 1922 to 1930

The Reverend William George Seymour Conner, M.A., T.O.D., was educated at Trinity College in Dublin. He took his B.A. in 1909, was curate at Kinsale from 1910 to 1913, curate of Cross Patrick from 1913 to 1916,  curate of St Patrick’s Ballymacarrett from 1916 to 1920, and curate of All Saints’ in Clooney in 1920.  He arrived in Innisrush during October 1922. 

During his 8 years in the parish, he oversaw major renovations in the church.  He subsequently moved to the parish of Langfield Union (Drumquin, County Tyrone), after the death there of Canon Charles Smith, B.D..


George F. Kingston, 1930 to 1933

The Reverend George F. Kingston, M.A., was a native of Cork.  He attained his M.A. at Trinity College in Dublin, and in 1919 was made curate of Irvinestown in County Fermanagh. He went on to serve as curate at Belleek and Dundalk. Mr. Kingston then went on to spend a few years as curate in St. Columba’s Church of Ireland in Knock, Belfast, where he was held in high esteem by the parishioners.

In April 1930, the preacher was given charge of Tamlaght O’Crilly Lower church. He was only in his late 30s when he died at Glenone Rectory on Friday June 23rd. The preacher had been ill for some three weeks previous. The funeral cortege made it’s way from the rectory to Innisrush church, where the service was conducted.  He was subsequently buried in Dundonald Cemetery, and  left a widow behind, Kathleen Kingston. She was the daughter of the Reverend R. Watson, B.D., who was the rector in Castle Archdale in County Fermanagh.


John Herbert Nesbitt, 1933 to 1944

Reverend John Herbert Nesbitt 1933 to Feb 1944. He had been curate in Newtownards for seven years prior to coming to Innisrush. After his ten years in Innisrush, he went on to spend some twenty years as rector in Desertmartin. He died on the 1st February 1965. He was 64.

William Edwin Davey M.A., 1944 to 1948

The Reverend William Edwin Davey, M.A., was ordained in 1941, and became Senior Curate of Christ Church in Lisburn, before being appointed in Tamlaght O’Crilly Lower parish in February 1944. When the Reverend Bateman retired soon after in Portglenone, Davey also took on that additional work.  The preacher made many friends on both sides of the Bann. During his four years in charge, over 1,200 pounds was raised to repair the church at Innisrush. On leaving the job in Innisrush, during June 1948, he became rector at Culmore and Muff, before moving on to the parish of Urney in Londonderry in late 1953.

J. M. McMurray Taylor, 1948 to 1954

The Reverend J. M. McMurray Taylor was appointed to Innisrush in June 1948.  He had previously been preaching in Moville Upper. He departed Innisrush in March 1954.

C. Leslie Maconachie, 1954 to 1961

The Reverend C. Leslie Maconachie was educated at Sullivan Upper School in Holywood.  He later went on to study at Trinity in Dublin.  In 1947 he departed for Canada, receiving his theological training at Saskatoon College, in Saskatchewan, and Vancouver Theological College in British Columbia.  The rector was ordained in 1950, for the curacy at All Saints Clooney parish in Derry.

In March 1954, he began preaching at Tamlaght O’Crilly Lower.

In November 1957, he was appointed to the Parish of Drumkeeran, in the diocese of Clogher, in County Fermanagh.  This appointment appears to have fallen through, because he didn’t leave the job at Innisrush.  

After working for over seven years in Innisrush, he resigned and left at the end of August 1961, taking up the role of chaplain in Newsham General Hospital in Liverpool.

Mr Maconachie’s brother, the Reverend A. Maconachie, M.A. B.D., was rector at Killowen parish in Coleraine.


G. W. A. Knowles, 1961 to 1962

The Reverend Knowles of the Ballyscullion parish in Bellaghy parish, doubled-up and preached in Innisrush from September 1961. He had originally been ordained in 1944, as assistant curate at Ardoyne in Belfast.  In 1946, he was appointed assistant curate at Knockbreda in County Down. In 1948, he was installed at Bellaghy.  After leaving Bellaghy in late 1963, Knowles became rector of Drumachose, Christ Church, in Limavady. 

H. I. Law, 1963

The Reverend H. I. Law preached in Innisrush during 1963. He sadly passed in the middle of the same year.

Thomas A. B. Sawyers, 1963 to 1969

The Reverend Thomas A. B. Sawyers was appointed rector of both Upper and Lower Tamlaght O’Crilly churches in October 1963.  Mr Sawyers had been curate for the previous two years in the Parish of Drumragh in Omagh.

In August 1969, he moved to his final parish of Lissan near Cookstown.  He retired in early 1982.  Although he was only in Innisrush for less than six years, the Reverend Sawyers was a much-loved rector, always having time for everyone, and often displaying humour.

 To be continued.



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