Fr Martin Gilcreest beside the grave of his great grand uncle Very Rev Patrick Gilcreest PP in Laragh.

History repeats itself in Laragh

Rev Patrick Gilcreest was appointed Laragh Parish Priest back in 1922, and 100 years on, his great grand nephew has assumed the position.

Speaking to the Celt regarding the incredible coincidence, Fr Martin Gilcreest said: “I’ve only just been appointed so I’m there a week. I had a great grand uncle who was a parish priest of Laragh. He was appointed 100 years ago in 1922. I’m his great grand nephew and I was appointed 100 years after.”

Father Martin has served as a priest of the Diocese of Kilmore for many years having worked across the county, including Cavan General Hospital where he was chaplain for 17 years. However, he never expected to be appointed to Laragh, a chapel he knew well having visited the grave of his great grand uncle many times.

“He’s buried in the graveyard in Laragh as well. He died in 1938 at 86 years of age. He was 60 years in the ministry when he died. As a child I remember visiting his grave and I used to hear stories about him.”

What made the occasion even more surreal for Fr Martin was a letter he received out of the blue the day before he was appointed. At the time, he knew he was being relocated but hadn’t been told where he would be going.

“Ironically, the day before I got appointed, I got a letter from a woman who had received a poem that was written about Fr Gilcreest by a person who worked for him at the time.

“It was about the person he was and the occasion when he died. I got this randomly in the post the day before I was appointed.”

This wasn’t the only surprise Fr Martin received regarding his great grand uncle. At the time when he was first ordained a priest, he received a chalice, which Rev Patrick had left for the next Fr Gilchreest.

“I have a chalice that was left for the next Fr Gilchreest, whoever that may be, to receive. So when I was ordained in ‘89, I got that chalice and now I use it in Laragh.

“It came back after 89 years to Laragh to be used again. I didn’t know when I was ordained. I was told by the bishop then that this was left to me so I never was aware of it. It was never going to be given to anyone unless a Fr Gilchreest was ordained,” continued the priest, clearly in awe of the situation.

“It was a massive privilege and an honour to be able to receive that chalice and then to be working in the parish that he would have spent his dying years in. So it’s nice.”

The newly appointed priest is incredibly proud of the connections he has with Very Rev Patrick, as he spoke highly of the legacies he left behind.

“He was very proactive in the Land League in the 1870s.

“He was very much involved in standing by the people who were evicted from their farms and that when he was working in south Leitrim,” he said proudly.

Fr Martin feels he has big shoes to fill, standing on the same altar as his great grand uncle all those years ago but he looks forward to the challenge and his ministry in Laragh.