On the morning of Sunday 24th November 2019, Mass was celebrated by Fr. Richard Matthews in St. Patrick’s church for all members of Slane History & Archaeology Society who passed away over the last twenty five years.
Present members participated in the readings and Offertory procession. Mary Mc Donnell brought a decorative card with prayers for all deceased members of the Society. Martina Corrigan carried the Society’s first publication. “The Old Frequented Ways”. Relatives, members and friends filled the Church.
In the afternoon of Sunday 24th November 2019 from 3pm onwards, present and former members of Slane History & Archaeology Society headed towards the Conyngham Arms hotel to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Society. In a short time people were seated comfortably at large, round, linen covered tables in the Lavender room chatting happily. The venue was most appropriate as the Society was founded in 1994 on the 24th November in this very same room.
Eddie Fleming, Chairman, was master of ceremonies for the evening. Having welcomed everyone, Eddie outlined the objectives of the Society and the importance to know about our past. He then introduced Wayne Harding, a native of Slane and Chairman of Meath County Council. Wayne talked about his school days and regretted that he very often missed the Society’s talks/outings owing to a busy work schedule.
Sheila Crehan, former Principal of St. Patrick’s Primary school in Slane was the keynote speaker for the evening. Sheila, who first mooted the idea of a History Society for the area reminisced about how the Society was formed and developed.
Initially, having contacted some like- minded history enthusiasts who promised support and commitment Sheila called a meeting. From the forty attendees the first Committee was formed. The officers elected were as follows,
President : Very Rev. Joseph Dooley P.P.
Chairman : Michael Leahy
Vice Chairman: Bill Ronan
Secretary: Sheila Crehan
Assistant Sec. Moyna Doherty
Treasurer : Madge Fortune
Honorary member : Terry Trench
Slane and surrounding areas are saturated in history. Consequently the Society went from strength to strength in a very short time, boasting of seventy members at one stage ranging from distinguished scholars to amateur researchers. Sheila, who was secretary for twenty years, outlined some of the accomplishments of the Society. She spoke about the early days, fundraising efforts, and the many excellent subcommittees formed through the years. Numerous projects were undertaken e.g. the 150th anniversary of the founding of St. Patrick’s primary school Slane, was commemorated in 1997. In tandem with this celebration, the 1st Past Pupils’ Reunion was organized and a commemorative booklet produced.
Committee members were busy in 1998 researching the bicentenary of the 1798 rising in Slane and environs which resulted in each member making a presentation whilst displaying some authentic weapons.
A very energetic subcommittee collated material and produced “The Old Frequented Ways”, the first major publication of the Society.
A group who researched Dean Cogan, had a plaque erected on the wall of the house in Slane where he was born. Dean Cogan who is buried in St. Patrick’s R.C. Church, compiled the first ecclesiastical history of Meath.
Members involved in the “John Cassidy” project researched the Slane sculptor in Manchester and environs. Afterwards a weekend exhibition of Cassidy’s many works was mounted in the Conyngham Arms hotel. A lovely booklet was produced entitled “John Cassidy 1860-1939”. The numerous images of Cassidy’s sculptures are now in safe storage with Navan Library.
A new website funded by Meath County Council was launched by the website subcommittee.
A second very interesting book containing information on the surrounding area, entitled “Slane Reflections”, was published in 2008.
Many other projects such as Life in Slane in the 40s, Heritage Centre, John Boyle O’Reilly, Slane Races, and the Heritage trail were researched and admirable work displayed by various groups.
Sheila, after outlining some of the projects in which members were involved made a Powerpoint presentation. The many slides of lectures, outings/ field trips brought happy and poignant memories to the large audience. Some former members have passed away but they will always be remembered by the Society. Afterwards Mary Kelly a very distinguished harpist, played some Turlough O’Carolan pieces of music. Gerard Doggett, former Chairman, and a highly accomplished violinist accompanied by Mary produced some beautiful Irish airs. The rendition was truly magnificent. Later in the evening, Paddy Reilly, another talented musician entertained the audience with some lovely melodies. Frank Lynagh, Jimmy McComesky and Michael Kelly contributed some interesting and funny anecdotes which were enjoyed by all. It was now time for some refreshments. Tea, coffee, and a variety of sandwiches as well as a special celebratory cake purchased in George’s, the local bakery, put an end to a memorable day. The people enjoyed the few hours together and some even saw themselves on the large screen.
Thank you to the many attendees, the hotel staff, Committee members and all who helped with the successful celebration of the 25th anniversary of our Society
Sheila Crehan, Nov. 2019
L to R: Eddie Fleming [ Chairman], Irene McCabe committee member, Sheila Crehan [ President] William Locke comm. member, Councillor Wayne Harding, Mary McDonnell Secretary, Martina Corrigan Treasurer, Margaret White comm. member, Michael Kelly, Committee member
The following members held the position of Chairman over the years.
1st  Michael Leahy 6 years
2nd Gerard Doggett 3 years
3rd Michael Kelly 4 years
4th Clare Ring 2 years
5th Ita Mahon 5 years
6th John Reidy 5 years
7th  Eddie Fleming ongoing
Sheila Crehan was Secretary from 1994 until March 2014.
Mary Mcdonnell succeeded Sheila and is ongoing.
The following members held the position of Treasurer from 1994
1st Madge Fortune 2 years
2nd Peter Marron 6 years
3rd Christina Devaney 3 years
4th John Ryle 4 years
5th Marie Byrne 2 years
6th Anjo Mongey 2 years
7th Martina Corrigan Treasurer in 2014
Members of the numerous hardworking Sub Committees who researched various topics, produced projects with information hitherto unknown to many deserve a sincere “Go raibh maith agaibh”.
Other members of the main Committee who performed admirable work are, Irene McCabe, Lil Sears, William Locke, Ellen McConnon.
Your work and interest over the years has been greatly appreciated. Thank you all.
Our first president, Fr. Joseph Dooley, P.P. who passed away in 2002 was a very avid historian and a great asset to our Society. May he rest in peace.
Fr. Joseph Deegan P.P. [2nd President] facilitated the Society at all times and always struck the right note.!
Sheila Crehan is now President of the Society.