Posts Tagged ‘irish border’

Lurganearly Mission Hall, County Monaghan

March 28, 2019


With all the current discussion and fierce debate regarding “Brexit,” I found a recent trip through Irish border areas very interesting. The narrow country roads I traversed that day meandered, sometimes north of the border and sometimes south. In fact I kept driving from one country into another without even realising it! Driving through areas which would previously have been seriously troubled, sadly I believe that today, in a sense, they still are; suspicion of strangers is still very much the order of the day in some places…

I remember a large family my parents used to visit when I was a child. This family lived on a farm close to the border and I can still see in my mind’s eye the old kitchen, with a table by a window where the sun shone in on the mother of the house who stood making bread. I have been told that the farmhouse now lies uninhabited. It is not unusual to find abandoned houses in rural areas of Ireland with all the bedding, old furniture and crockery still sitting there!

It is fascinating to realise that the Irish border is not easily defined. Some people’s land or farms straddle the border, while there are those who claim that some rooms of their houses are in the Republic of Ireland while others are in Northern Ireland. I sincerely hope that they’ll never require a passport to walk from their living room into their kitchen! It is many years ago now since we visited that family but as I reminisce on youthful days, I realise that spiritually speaking the need of mankind remains the same and the people of Ireland, whatever their political views, need to come to personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, if they have not already done so.

Still nestling amongst the peaceful emerald drumlins of County Monaghan (which is south of the Irish border) are some non-denominational little mission halls and Lurganearly is one of these. Lurganearly is a small townland, lying just 10km (around 6.5 miles) south east of Castleblayney. There is good car parking space across from the little hall, which is ran by a Mr J. Smyth who lives halfway between Castleblayney and the hall. Every Sunday at 12noon a Sunday morning worship service is held here and I know that anyone desiring to go would be made most welcome.

Every Wednesday night there is a prayer meeting at 8pm and a Sunday evening service is held on the first Sunday of each month at 8pm. The visiting speaker at this first Sunday evening meeting normally also speaks at the morning service. Unlike many mission halls, this one continues to operate during the summer months, except on rare occasions for a very good reason. There are sometimes other special mid-week meetings arranged, with visiting speakers and organisations invited to the hall.

This year (2019) it will be 63 years ago since Stanley Conn (see previous blog ) put his trust in the risen Saviour in this very place and I thank the Lord for the existence still, of such places of worship where there are no denominational barriers. In the sparsely populated rural areas of Ireland and indeed in the towns and cities, I pray that souls will still repent and listen humbly to that “still small voice” which continues to whisper in this the Day of Grace… not only in places of worship but in city streets, villages, country lanes, mountains and valleys.

Political regimes and leaders may come and go, terrifying events will surely happen and this old world is changing fast “but the Word of the Lord endureth for ever” (1Peter 1v25) and “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” (Hebrews 13v8)

Praise God for the text on Lurganearly’s wall which may even speak to weary travellers on that narrow country road… “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…” (Acts 16v31)



The Beautiful Cooley Peninsula

July 15, 2010

Yesterday as we drove across the Irish border to our County Meath home, we deviated from the usual motorway route after Newry and drove instead along the canal; eventually taking the coastal route which goes through the quaint villages of Omeath and Carlingford. My daughter and I stopped to admire the small medieval village of Carlingford which is set against the greenery of the mountains, but my first port of call here was with the tourist office which took quantities of my first two books: “A Biblical Journey through the Irish Year” and “Singing on the Journey Home.” (The latter contains a story set in Carlingford, called “The Lost Ring” – a true story from my own life.)

There is much to see of historical interest in the area, including St. John’s Castle and the little village itself with its narrow streets has lovely craft shops – and a fascinating antique shop, packed with all sorts of memorabilia. However, coming from a rural background as we do, both my daughter and I have a special affinity with the beautiful surrounding land and seascape.

What a beautiful pastoral scene may be composed of those sheep grazing on the scenic Cooley peninsula, where Carlingford is situated! They remind me of the sheep, “that which is lost,” in Luke 15v4&5: “What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.” Beautiful pastoral scenery also reminds me of rural Scotland, where Elizabeth C.D. Clephane (1830-1869) was the author of many inspired hymns including “Beneath the Cross of Jesus” and “There were Ninety and Nine.” Based on the parable of the same name, the latter was written from her own poignant experience, when news came through of her eldest brother’s sudden death after a fall from his horse. However, it is widely believed that, although he led a prodigal life in Canada, the young man returned to the Lord shortly before his death. Surely only eternity will reveal the many ways that are used by the Shepherd to draw straying sheep to the safety of His fold? With this in mind, I pray that those seeds which the Lord has assisted me to plant in the lovely village of Carlingford, will take root in the hearts of natives and tourists alike.

Link to Elizabeth C.D. Clephane’s hymns: