by Frank McCorry

The Parish of Shankill and the Parish of Seagoe occupy a considerable portion of the southern shore of Lough Neagh. Until the formation of the modern Parish of Moyraverty, Shankill and Seagoe were the only parishes of the Dromore Diocese located in County Armagh. Until c.1750, Seagoe was considered the more important of the two under Catholic aegis.

The origin of the Parish of Shankill is by no means as clear-cut in historical documents as might be assumed. That there was a pre-Reformation church in Shankill townland not far distant from the heart of Lurgan town, is affirmed by its inclusion in the Plantation maps of 1609. Therefore, the subsequent foundation of Lurgan town by the incoming colonists, the Brownlows, undoubtedly gave Shankill its prominence. Yet, one hundred years later, at the Registration of Catholic Priests at Lurgan courthouse, on July 10th. 1704, no priest came forward to represent Shankill. The Reverend John Byrne, parish priest of Seagoe, represented both parishes.

There were other church-sites close-at-hand which may have been as worthy of parish status as Shankill. In 1440, the income from Seagoe Parish was so small that it could not support a parish priest, so it was united to neighbouring Enachloisgy or Annaloiste, lying on the very shore of the great lough. Fifty years later, in 1492, further consolidation of northern parishes was approved and Kylilan, Tayagoba and Acadle were united. These three names are generally perceived as Shankill, Seagoe and Aghalee respectively. Additional licence is assumed by taking Kylmilan, Kilwilke and Shankill as referring to the same entity, an assumption which few really believe. The late Dean Bernard Mooney was in no doubt that the Church of Annaloiste was Kilwilke, derived from Kylmilcon and associated with an early saint named Micho or Milchu.

The parishes of Shankill and Seagoe remained united from 1492 until 1788 when the union was dissolved. As the town of Lurgan increased in size, population and relative prosperity, the Parish of Shankill grew in prominence. And as if to herald this new importance, nine and a half important townlands were transferred from Seagoe to Shankill, in 1819, by the Most Reverend Dr. Edmund Derry, Bishop of Dromore, and a native of Ballynamoney, near Lurgan. These were, Drumgask, Moyraverty, Annaloiste, Boconnell, Drumnakelly, Kinnego, Knockramer, Silverwood, Turmoyra, and half of the major townland of Ballinamoney. It is a fact that right up until the middle of the 20th. century, many families from these transferred townlands retained some allegiance and much affection for their former parish.

At the registration of County Armagh priests in Lurgan,on July 10th. 1704, the Reverend John Byrne, Parish Priest of Seagoe, represented Shankill Parish also. This infers that there was no priest ministering in Shankill, but other sources indicate that the Reverend Richard McGinn was baptising children in the district. This evidence is written into the local Church of Ireland baptism register.

The Brownlow burial vault occupies the site of the pre-Reformation church of Shankill. The church stood on elevated ground within a medium-sized ringfort bound on the north side by a tiny river. The Brownlows buried within the nave of the church since their arrival in Lurgan in 1610. No trace now remains of the old church nor of the graves of those who established the site probably in the 13th.-14th. century period.

For the 18th. century period, the location of Mass sites in Shankill Parish cannot be detailed with any certainty. A Mass-garden is shown in Tannaghmore North on John Rocque's Map of County Armagh, 1760, but this is unlikely to have been the sole location of Catholic worship in the overall Shankill Parish. The old church site in Shankill had been taken over by the Anglican in-corners soon after the Plantation although local Catholics continued to use the adjoining graveyard without hindrance. Around 1800, the Brownlow landlord family made a gift to the Catholics of Lurgan of a mill-warehouse which stood on a rise a little distant from the Dougher stream, now piped, and which flows at the bottom of the greatly treasured Dougher graveyard. At this time, the Catholic population of Shankill Parish was almost entirely rural, concentrated in the townlands a little distant from town.

With the population of Ireland as a whole, and County Armagh in particular, undergoing rapid expansion, the converted church-warehouse in Dougher became too small to cater for Catholic parishioners. And then, most likely as an acknowledgement that the long-awaited Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829 had come to pass, the Brownlows donated the Dougher field which surrounded the primitive chapel to the Catholic people as a graveyard, and an elevated site in North Street, Lurgan, for the erection of a proper church. In 183031, the Reverend William O'Brien, from the Broadwater area of Aghalee, began the building of the first St. Peter's Church on the site.

The church was a relatively long building which ran parallel to the narrow street on an approximate east-west axis, the traditional orientation of a Christian church. The chapel at Lisnagade, near Loughbrickland, is quite similar to the original St. Peter's Church in size, shape, distance from the road, and directional orientation. Interestingly, Alex Richmond's Map of Lurgan, 1832, includes both the Dougher Chapel and the new St. Peter's Church.

Since then, St. Peter's has been enlarged and remodelled in various phases and is now one of Ireland's finest parish churches. Its progression towards the magnificent edifice Shankill parishioners now have for Mass, devotion and reflection is the legacy of many fine priests and many thousands of faithful parishioners. If the tall tapering spire is an expression of exhilaration and jubilation in freedom and ease of worship, the beautiful sanctuary, enhanced by coloured and golden mosaic, is the focus of constant prayer in a location central for the great majority of parishioners.

A glance at some social and economic material relating to Lurgan and Shankill Parish from the mid-l9th.century onwards demonstrates the characteristics which made the parish different from any other while still displaying demographic trends similar to these of many other districts. The whole economic emphasis in the area during the entire 18th. century had been on fine linen manufacture. While the industry allowed money to percolate through all sectors of the population, it also attracted disadvantaged people from all the neighbouring parishes which meant that there was always a considerable number of poorer families within the town and surrounding districts. With Lurgan the centre of a very populous administrative Union, families came in big numbers seeking solace and relief from hardship. This was the situation when the Great Famine struck the land in October 1846. Ten years later, following the part-mechanisation of the linen trade, major growth of population was recorded within all parts of Shankill Parish.

Streets of new houses were erected alongside the new factories where restriction on the level of wages paid meant that women in the workforce greatly outnumbered men. And then, the large year-on-year population increases of 1851-71 which had accompanied the growth of the local linen industry halted as investment slowed and house-building declined. Linen manufacture continued to generate an abundance of female employment, and the gender balance within the parish became greatly distorted.

In 1891, following an influx of families from neighbouring rural districts, there were almost 700 more Catholic females than males in Shankill parish, many of whom were of marriageable age. In 1901, in Lurgan town, overall, there were 1,737 females, aged 20 to u-40 years, per 1,000 males of similar age. Marriage prospects for young women, therefore, were not entirely favourable.

Among Catholics, the seasons of Lent and Advent continued to be non-marrying periods. This meant that few if any Catholic weddings in Shankill were celebrated in the months of March and December.

The following table is representative of the post-Famine era, but does not tell the full story.




Jan. Feb. Mch. Apr. May. Jun.































































The almost complete absence of weddings in March indicates quite strict adherence to the code of restraint. The December marriages seem to run contrary to the Advent prohibition but, surprisingly, most took place on Christmas Day. In 1896, six weddings were held on Christmas Day; four, in 1900, and five on the corresponding day in 1901. By 1920, Christmas Day weddings had ceased. They probably arose on account of economic pressure locally on couples and their families in the 1890s. A wedding on that day would save the bride and groom and their families having to forfeit a day's pay which would have happened if the wedding had taken place on a week-day. Generally speaking, Advent and Lent were observed by Catholics as non-marrying periods until the 1970s.

The following verse, inscribed in a Nottinghamshire parish register, was a fairly strict guide for the minister and the congregation when marriages could and could not he held.

Advent marriage doth deny,
But Hilary gives thee liberty.
Septuagesima says thee nay,
Eight days from Easter says you may.
Rogation bids thee to contain,
But Trinity sets you free again.

The demographer, S.H.Cousens, considered the period, 1851-81, a distinctive period in Ireland's demographic history, as the nation attempted to cope with the social and economic uncertainties of the post-Famine period. He was conscious of changing trends in the age of marriage and in the increasing incidence of celibacy, and linked the regional variations in these to the availability of land. This certainly had application within Shankill parish as was shown at the local Land Commission hearings of 1882, held in Lurgan courthouse. But a new social awareness among people, and greater expectations of life, were undoubtedly much stronger factors even when, or particularly when, the local linen-based economy was never far from a state of precariousness. The low level of pay combined with arduous work practices meant that the collective economic attainment of one whole family was unlikely to be achieved by any one family member leaving home to marry.

Particularly when a family's living standards had risen above the minimum subsistence threshold, each family member's wage would be regarded as necessary for the collective well-being of the family. Moreover, local single males were likely to have been either weavers, labourers, clerks, shopboys or potential soldiers, all poorly paid with few prospects. For girls, therefore, who married locally, the social and economic outlook was far from bright. Malthus addressed the problem from a male perspective:

Even the labourer who earns 18 to 24 pence a day, and lives at his ease as a single man, will hesitate a little before he divides his pittance among four or five which seems to be not more sufficient for one.

Throughout the entire region, these and other factors combined to bring about an era characterised by increasing levels of delayed marriages and celibacy. Demographers suggest that the periods around 1880 and 1950 were demographic turning-points regionally. In Lurgan, and in Shankill parish overall, the number of people who remained single throughout life, and who were born in the 1890-l930 period, was quite striking. The phenomenon was all the more conspicuous when some individual families are considered. Not one of a family of eight in Edward Street, Lurgan, married, even those who went longterm to England to seek work. In another family of eight in Lurgan rural, one of three males and four of five females remained unmarried. In a seven-member town family, one of three males and three of four females stayed single. There were, of course, entire families who married, and other families where only one stayed at home to look after a parent or parents.

Nevertheless, an unusually high incidence of celibacy was a feature of the Shankill parish population until the new economic and social order arose in the 1950s. Then, a rejuvenated economic climate generated demographic change on a gradual and then major scale, as an array of new housing developments, new secondary schools, vastly improved social services and non-cyclical employment opportunities with good pay brought to Lurgan and to the parish, from parts east and west, new people with new skills and great expectations. Marriages soon followed.


1800 - A substantial mill building in Dougher was converted to a Catholic Chapel for the parishioners of Shankill Parish who were almost entirely rural dwellers.

1822 - Registration of Catholic Baptisms in the Parish is well under way.

1822 - Reverend William O'Brien, Aghalee, was ordained and appointed C.C. Shankill. Two years later in 1824, he was appointed Parish Priest on the death of the incumbent, Reverend John O'Kelly. Thus began a most important, zealous and devoted pastorate which was to last until 1868.

1827 - Part of the field surrounding the church building in Dougher townland was donated by the young Charles Brownlow to the parish to be used as a graveyard, an acknowledgement that Catholics wished to have a separate place of burial.

The inscription engraved on the plinth of this tall cross in the Dougher cemetery reads:- This Cross marks the site of the Altar of the old Parish Church of Shankill, and was solemnly blessed and indulgenced at the end of the Mission given by the Passionist Fathers in June 1877.

1829 - Probably as a response to the passing of the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829, Charles Brownlow granted an appropriate site in North Street, Lurgan, to the Very Reverend William O'Brien, Parish Priest, for the erection of a parish church.

1832 - Work on the new St. Peter's Church is well under way. Alex Richmond's Map of Lurgan, 1832, shows two Catholic Churches close together, one in Dougher, and one in the Back Lane (North Street).

1833 - Dedication of the new St. Peter's on September 1st. 1833 by the Most Reverend Dr. Blake, Bishop of Dromore.

1834 - First storey of a parochial house erected in church grounds, and the Dougher Church converted to parish schools.

1846-48 - With the Union workhouse located on the edge of Lurgan town, Father O' Brien undertook the very demanding duties of workhouse chaplain. With fevers raging in the workhouse and poverty on the outside, workhouse duties meant that, in effect, the chaplain was catering for an additional parish. Even on Christmas Day, Father O'Brien found time to tend to the spiritual welfare of the many Catholic workhouse inmates.

1860 - Halftown School, now, St. Teresa's was built. 1862 - Dougher Cemetery enlarged; population of Lurgan town expanding rapidly after the trauma and suffering of the Great Famine are receding and the number of linen manufactories is increasing on a yearly basis.

1863 - The first Shankill Parish Mission was conducted by three priests from the Order of Charity. With the great increase in the parish population - the linen trade of Lurgan was in full swing - two additional curates were appointed, Reverend James McKenna and Reverend John McConville.

1864 - Parochial House was enlarged.

1865 - Edward Street schools were opened.

1866 - The Sisters of Mercy came to Lurgan and took charge of the Edward Street schools.

1867-69 - St. Peter's Church is greatly enlarged with the addition of a new Sanctuary and Transepts. The foundation stone of this major project, planned and undertaken by the Very Reverend William O'Brien, was laid by Bishop Leahy on June 29th. 1867, and exactly two years later, Bishop Leahy dedicated the new additions.

1875 - St. Peter's School for Boys was opened adjacent to the now greatly enlarged St. Peter's Church in North Street, Lurgan.

1890-92 A new extension to St. Peter's Church enlarged the nave bringing the seating capacity to 1,200. The imposing exterior architecture was complemented by a spacious interior of refinement and ideal proportion.

1897-1901 - The magnificent spire of St. Peter's Church, planned by a parish priest who had achieved so much in enlarging St. Peter's, was dedicated by Dr. O'Neill, Bishop of Dromore, on August 25th. 1901. The Reverend James O'Hare died in 1897 when the initial work on the spire had begun. The spire was completed during the pastorate of the Reverend Michael McConville.

1908 - The present St. Michael's Grammar School was opened as a Boys' Industrial School.

1915 - The imposing organ which has enriched so many church services was purchased at �1,000 approximately.

1922-24 - Coinciding with the Golden Jubilee of the Right Reverend Dean Michael McConville, a new marble High Altar was installed, the Sanctuary was embellished by a very beautiful array of mosaics, and a marble Communion Rail erected in memory of the Catholic dead of Lurgan and District who lost their lives during the Great War of 1914-18.

1925-27 - The Sacristy was completely refurbished with pitch-pine compartments. A new Sacred Heart Altar was installed. The church interior was completely re-decorated to architectural instructions. The Tower and Spire were `pointed'. The Tympanum over the main entrance depicting Christ handing the keys to Saint Peter was carved, and the Papal Crest in stone carved over the door of the Tower.

Page One of the booklet containing the names of contributors and the amounts contributed to the Charity Sermon preached on February 20th. 1927 to raise the money required to remove all debt accrued in the final phase of building the magnificent church. The debt having been wiped out, St. Peter's was solemnly consecrated three months later, on May 18th. 1927.

1927 - St. Peter's Church, being free from debt on account of extraordinary generosity of parishioners, many of whom were of deep faith and modest means, was consecrated on Thursday 19th. May 1927 by Most Reverend Dr. Edward Mulhern, Bishop of Dromore, with the Solemn Celebrations of the Consecration taking place on Sunday 22nd. May 1927, presided over by His Eminence Cardinal O'Donnell, Archbishop of Armagh.

1933 - The Centenary of the erection and dedication of St. Peter's Church was celebrated on Sunday 3rd. September 1933 by a Solemn High Mass in the presence of Cardinal MacRory, Bishop Mulhern and a large gathering of Priests. The celebrant of the Mass was Reverend J. P. Burke; Deacon, Reverend A.J. Sweeney; Sub-Deacon, Reverend J.E. Murtagh; Master of Ceremonies, Reverend David Gallery. All four priests had affiliation with Shankill Parish and Lurgan from childhood.

Priests of Lurgan, 1927:- (left to right, sitting): Rev. H. McGivern, C.C.; Very Rev. D. Canon O'Hagan, P.P., V.G.; Rev. A. Lowry, C.C. Standing: Rev. S. McNulty, C.C.; Rev. W. Ronan, C.C.; Rev. D. Gallery, C.C.

1937 - St. Colman's Cemetery came into being on account of the diminishing capacity of the Dougher Cemetery to accommodate additional burials. Two major extensions of the cemetery have been carried out.

1958-59 - The Side-Altars, dedicated to The Sacred Heart and to Our Lady were embellished by appropriate mosaic designs.

1968 - Entire flooring within the church was replaced, the organ was remodelled, and the great spire and cross were examined and repaired.

1982 - On Sunday 26th. December 1982, Bishop Francis Gerard Brooks consecrated the Altar of St. Peter's Church following the re-construction of the Sanctuary. A permanent marble altar now faces the congregation. An ambo fashioned from the marble of the original pulpit, and a marble chair made from the marble of the original altar, have been incorporated into the Sanctuary. The Reredos remains intact and the floor of the Sanctuary has been raised. The Baptismal Font now rests beside the Communion passage at the front of the Sanctuary.

Above the main entrance to St. Peter's Church is a splendid stone carving depicting Christ entrusting the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven to Saint Peter.

1983 - On October 2nd. 1983, special ceremonies were held to commemorate the 150th. Anniversary of the Dedication of St. Peter's Church. Bishop Francis Gerard Brooks was the principal celebrant of a Mass of Thanksgiving. Twenty-six priests concelebrated, all of whom had strong affiliation with the church, either as parish priests, curates or natives of the parish.

1992 - Sunday, 14th. June: A concelebrated Mass of Thanksgiving was held in St. Peter's Church, Lurgan on the occasion of the 50th. anniversary of the ordination of the Right Rev. Monsignor Christopher Murray, P.P� V.G., Lurgan, Very Rev. Canon Patrick Smyth, P.P., Ballynahinch and Very Rev. James Fitzpatrick. P,P., Annaclone. The other concelebrants were Rev. Michael Hackett, C.C., Lurgan who was celebrating his Silver Jubilee in the priesthood, Rev. Michael Maginn, C.C., Newry, a native of Lurgan, was the preacher. Bishop Brooks presided and a great number of Dromore priests and some from the Dioceses of Armagh, and Down and Connor were present along with a full church for the joyful occasion.

The large and beautiful Sanctuary of St. Peter's Church, Lurgan. The great Ascension window is flanked by coloured and golden portraiture of the Irish Saints.

1992 - Friday, 4th. September The parish of Shankill was divided into two parishes. St. Peter's and St. Paul's, Shankill. The new parish of St. Peter's consists of the following townlands - Kinnego, Clanrolla, Liscorran, Tullydagan. Tannaghmore North, Lurgantarry, Cornakinnegar, Drumnanoe, Tullyronnelly, Kilmore, Killaghy, and part of each of Lurgan, Drumnakelly, Ballyblagh, Dougher. Knocknashane, Derry and Turmoyra.

The new parish of St. ,Paul's consists of the following townlands - Annaloiste, Boconnell, Knockramer, Silverwood, Shankill, Taghnevan, Tannaghmore South, Tobernewey, Aughnacloy, Tirsogue, and part of Lurgan. Drumnakelly, Ballyblagh, Dougher, Knocknashane, Derry, Turmoyra, and part of Ballinamoney, (the other part in Seagoe parish), and part of Monbrief, (the other part in Moyraverty parish).

Friday, 11th. September Bishop Brooks made the following clerical changes - Very Rev. Arthur Byrne. P.P., Kilbroney to be P.P. of St. Peter's, Lurgan, and V.G. of the diocese.

Rev. Francis Molloy, C.C., Craigavon to be P.P., St. Paul's, Lurgan.


In 1411, The Reverend Patrick McGwyryan (McGivern) was described as 'Rector Ecclesiae Parochialis De Kyl-Milcon', or Rector of the Parish Church of Kilwilke.

In 1788, the Reverend John O'Kelly was appointed Administrator of Shankill and, in 1815, he was appointed Parish Priest. Shankill Parish had become an important and distinctive entity in its own right.

Father O'Kelly, whose brother was Bishop of Dromore, died on February 28th. 1825, and was interred in Laurencetown Cemetery where his brother was buried six months later.

To Shankill Parish, Lurgan, came the Reverend William O'Brien from the Broadwater area, near Aghalee. Dr. O'Brien's pastorate in Lurgan, from 1822 to 1825, as a Curate. and 1825-1870, as Parish Priest, was filled with arduous pastoral and spiritual achievements, with building projects of church and schools, with tending daily to the many poor of the parish, and with raising the morale and moral standards of a people attempting to recover from the debilitating effects of the Penal Laws and the Great Famine. This great man who generated the development of Shankill Parish and the erection of St. Peter's Church, died on May 31st. 1870, aged 74 years, and was interred underneath the Sanctuary in St. Peter's Church.

The quotations which follow characterise his pastorate, and are taken from the Chaplains' Book of Lurgan Union workhouse, and relate to the Christmas period of 1846, when the deadly grip of the Famine had taken hold, a period known locally as `the dear Winter'. Chaplains were required to specify their pastoral activities in the workhouse, and to sign all entries in the book. The following three entries were signed simply, W.O'Brien:

December 25th. Baptised William, of Win. McLoughlin and Ann Keenan. Sponsors, Charles McCann and Margaret Hernnon. Attended three sick calls in the Female Infirm Ward, Catechised the children, and read Evening Prayer in the school room.

December 26th. Blessed a grave for the interment of two little children. Read the Funeral Service over the remains of two aged persons. Attended three sick calls in the Male Infirm Ward, three sick calls in the Male Infirmary, and four sick calls in the Female Idiot Ward.

December 27th. Divine Service and Instruction. Visited two sick men' in the Infirmary, and two sick persons in the Fever Hospital. Catechised the children and read Evening Prayers in the school room.

The Reverend James McKenna who had come to Lurgan in 1867, aged 38 years, to assist Dr. O'Brien, was appointed Parish Priest in June 1870. He enlarged St. Peter's Church to meet the needs of a rapidly expanding population and undertook a lecture tour in the U.S.A. to raise funds for the parish. Father McKenna, a Newry-born priest, died in Lurgan on October 20th. 1885, aged 56 years, and was interred within the Sanctuary of St. Peter's Church.

Large white marble tablet inscribed in Latin with gold lettering recounting the history of St. Peter's Church, Lurgan. The inscription celebrates the Solemn Consecration of the church on May 18th. 1927. The cathedral-like edifice is among the finest parish churches in Ireland and manifests the great progress made by the Irish Church during the one hundred years which followed the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829. The first line of the inscription reads:-

Fideles hujus Pardeciae Missam sus diva per breve tempus
in moledino desueto in loco Dougher

referring to the faithful attending Mass for a short period in a disused building in the Dougher.

The subsequent parish priest, the Reverend Arthur James Finnegan, was a former President of St. Colman's College, Newry, and his appointment in Lurgan began on November 2nd. 1885. His work for the parishioners of Shankill Parish was cut short by illness and he passed away on July 1st. 1889, aged 66 years, after only four years as parish priest.

The Reverend James O'Hare was appointed Parish Priest of Shankill on July 13th. 1889. In the period of enormous change, 1868-78, Father O'Hare was a curate in St. Peter's Church, and this experience and knowledge of town and people was of great benefit during his eight years as parish priest. He undertook many educational initiatives much needed in the parish and organised the enlargement of St. Peter's Church to its most impressive size and capacity. Just before his untimely death on August 16th. 1897, aged 59 years, he began the detailed planning for the imposing spire which makes St. Peter's Church the landmark which it is for people from far and near.

Reverend Michael Blake McConville, 1897 to 1925; Father McConville had spent 19 years as a curate in Lurgan. Thus, on his death on February 24th. 1925, aged 77 years, he had ministered to parishioners for almost 47 years.

One outstanding parish priest was followed by another as the Very Reverend Daniel O'Hagan, President of St. Colman's College, Newry, was appointed to Shankill on March 20th. 1925. While Dean O'Hagan's pastorate could be specified in terms of building projects of church and schools and by great occasions, it was his impact on the Faith and morale of parishioners which is and will be long

remembered. In a parish recovering from the grim social effects of World War I and enduring the terrible upheavals of World War II, Dean O'Hagan maintained a daily ministry in church, in streets, in schools and in homes. Put simply, he was a devout priest who wanted the best in Faith for each and every parishioner. Dean O'Hagan passed away on November 10th. 1954, aged 78 years.

Reverend Edward Campbell, Administrator of Newry Parish, was appointed Parish Priest of Shankill in March 1955. During his nine years in Lurgan, Monsignor Campbell planned and guided the erection of two major new schools, St. Mary's (1958-59) and St. Paul's (1962) and took a great initiative in the planning and building of the new St. Paul's Church to cater for the growing population of Lurgan who were in the process of major re-housing and re-location. This was the period of new housing developments and urban expansions. Complications encountered in the building of St. Paul's Church, and the need to generate funds to reduce a substantial parish debt became heavy burdens for Monsignor Campbell to carry. He died on January 9th. 1964 and left the parish geared to meet the educational needs of a new and very demanding era. He was interred in St. Colman's Cemetery.

To the next Parish Priest, Monsignor James Haughey, was appointed in April 1964, fell the task of having St. Paul's Church, in Francis Street, completed. St. Paul's Church, in which Mass was first celebrated on Christmas Eve, 1965, was officially opened and dedicated on Low Sunday, 1966, amid much pageantry and celebration. Monsignor Haughey, a past-President of St. Colman's College, Newry, organised the planning and building of two new schools in Francis Street, and, as Monsignor Campbell had also done, carried out repairs and refurbishment of St. Peter's Church. Monsignor Haughey retired from Shankill Parish in December 1979, and died in Rostrevor on March 16th. 1995.

Monsignor Christopher Murray was appointed Parish Priest of Shankill on January 1st. 1980. Blessed with the attributes of scholarship, humility, fidelity and Faith. Monsignor Murray came to Lurgan, the centre of a large and settled parish from the new and developing Parish of Moyraverty where he had faced many difficulties in the spheres of population mobility, social deprivation and economic shortcomings. The new parish priest shone in all aspects of pastoral and spiritual endeavour, and he became a leader of all the people in prayer and Christian outlook. Monsignor Murray celebrated his Golden Jubilee in the Priesthood on Sunday 14th. June 1992 with a concelebrated Mass of Thanksgiving in St. Peter's Church. He was joined in the celebrations by two additional Golden Jubilarians, Very Reverend James Fitzpatrick, P.P. Annaclone, and

Canon Patrick Smyth, P.P. Magheradroll, a highly esteemed former curate of Shankill Parish. At the division of Shankill Parish into two parishes on Friday 11 th.September 1992, Monsignor Murray retired as parish priest, and went to dwell in nearby Tullylish Parish where he actively contributed to the spiritual life of the parish. He died on December 2nd. 1999, and was interred in Laurencetown cemetery.

The beautiful Pieta located in the former baptistry in St. Peter's Church was commissioned by Monsignor Christopher Murray following the reconstruction of the Sanctuary in December 1982. In the reconstruction, the reredos remained intact and the floor of the Sanctuary was raised to the level of the predella. The baptismal font was relocated from the rear of the church to the Communion passage at the front of the Sanctuary.

Monsignor Arthur Byrne, a native of the parish, was appointed Parish Priest in September 1992. A classical scholar, Monsignor Byrne had served as Administrator of Newry Parish with distinction and came to Lurgan with an abundance of pastoral and administrative experience. His ten years in St. Peter's, Shankill, were marked by the modernising of parish structures, full support for all Church-related organisations in the parish, the necessary expansion of an already large St. Colman's Cemetery, and leadership in a variety of devotional practices which once again became an integral part of parish life. A splendid new parochial house was erected for the parish curates, the old St. Peter's School was tastefully refurbished, and a major programme of exterior maintenance was begun on the cathedral-like St. Peter's Church. Six months after celebrating his Golden Jubilee in the Priesthood, Monsignor Byrne resigned his appointment on December 31st. 2002.


Monsignor Arthur Byrne, retired Parish Priest of St. Peter's, Shankill, outside the porch of the splendid new Parochial House, North Street, Lurgan.

Father Kieran McPartlan was appointed Administrator of St. Peter's Parish from January to July 2003, at which time Canon Aidan Hamill was appointed Parish Priest. Canon Hamill was ordained in St. Patrick's Church, Magheralin, his native parish, on Sunday 8th. June 1969. He served in St.Colman's College and in various parishes including significant years as C.C. Magheradroll. In August 1994, he was appointed Parish Priest of Drumgath where he remained until July 1998 when he was appointed as Administrator of Newry Parish and made a Canon of the Chapter. On July 21st. 2003, Canon Hamill's appointment to Shankill, St. Peter's was announced, and on January 16th. 2004, he was honoured by the conferring of the title, Monsignor. Also in January, a major new phase of renewal and refurbishment of church property in North Street, Lurgan, was begun. St. Peter's, Shankill, being the older of the two parish divisions, has a considerable number of parish-associated voluntary organisations. These provide the parish and its people with a marked degree of cohesion, and add greatly to its identity as a caring parish. The members of these groupings are people whose Faith is expressed in worship and good deeds. Some of these organisations were established by curates in times past. Reverend Stephen McNulty, who served in Lurgan for 28 years, 1923-51,

Reverend Patrick Smyth, 27 years, 1948-75, and Reverend James McEvoy, 16 years, 1948-64, represent the great body of priests who served Shankill Parish so faithfully and so well before moving on to serve elsewhere in the Dromore Diocese as parish priests.

Alongside the priests, the dedicated nuns of the Sisters of Mercy worked tirelessly for parishioners since arriving in Lurgan in 1866. Their work in the spheres of education, in alleviating the distress of local disadvantaged families, and in visitation of the sick and deprived, shaped the parish in a way no other body could have done.

Today, priests, Mercy Sisters and people, together with the many lay groupings and schools, combine to serve the Almighty in a large modernising parish located on the southern shore of Lough Neagh, close to that point where the three counties of Armagh, Down and Antrim meet.


Very Reverend James Fitzpatrick, P.P. Annaclone; His Lordship Bishop F.G. Brooks; Very Reverend Canon Patrick Smyth, P.P. Magheradroll; Right Reverend Monsignor Christopher Murray, P.P. V.G. Shankill.
The three parish priests jointly celebrated the Golden
Jubilee of their Ordination to the Priesthood in a special Concelebrated Mass in St. Peter's Church, Lurgan, with 64 priests concelebrating.