On Sunday, a large crowd gathered in Creeslough to mark a fitting commemoration to the famous emigration song “Noreen Bawn” and the woman who inspired it.
The event started at Doe cemetery where a plaque was unveiled by Grace Diver, the oldest living relative of Bridget Gallagher, the 23-year-old who inspired the famous song penned by Niall Mac Giolla Bhride.
The graveyard plot where she was laid to rest in 1927 after returning from America was also marked with a commemorative plaque denoting the link between the site and the famous song. A blessing was conducted by Creeslough Parish Priest, Fr. Joe Briody and a version of Noreen Bawn was sung by Roger Murray. From there the group travelled to the original home place of Bridget Gallagher in the nearby townland of Oughdarragh, which had been carefully restored in recent weeks by a group of local volunteers.
There, a commerative tree was planted, more music was enjoyed and a blessing was given by Fr. Pat McGarvey. Danny Lafferty gave a speech to outline the significance of the Noreen Bawn tale and its importance to the local area.
Then, as if it was 100 years ago, the scene of Noreen returning home was re-enacted by Mary Lafferty who played the mother and Maggie Diver, who arrived in traditional dress and horse and carriage, as Noreen.
Following the visit to the home place, the group retired to the Corncutters Rest in Creeslough for refreshments and entertainment. The song and the story of Noreen has been kept alive since it was penned by Mac Giolla Bhride, a local poet from Feymore. It has since been recorded by Bridie Gallagher from Ards, and performed by modern artists like Jimmy Buckley and Daniel O’Donnell.