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Perhaps in the whole of Ulster there is no other Parish of its extent and population so entirely Catholic as Clonmany, there being but one native-born family of non-Catholics in the Parish. Its Catholic exclusiveness, however, cannot be accounted for by the absence of all attempts to introduce and encourage non-Catholic Christianity, as there existed in it a very well endowed Protestant Rectory under the patronage of the Chichester family (Marquis of Donegal and Governor of Derry) to whom a grant of Inishowen was made after the death of its chivalrous young chieftain by an English bullet near the Rock of Doon. Members of the Chichester family long held the incumbency of the Parish and now lie in the yard of the Protestant Church.

An eminent authority maintains that the people of Clonmany; and especially of the Urris section, are the descendants of refugees from the southern part of Inishowen, driven from their homes after the murder of the immortal Sir Cahir O' Doherty, to make way for the planters who were brought there by the "undertakers" of that period, and that amongst those driven into the secluded fastnesses of Clonmany were not a few children of the principal native families of Ulster, who were by the customs of the period a very chief care of their foster-parents. The historian accounts in the aforegoing way for the splendid physique, the innate politeness, fine presence and exceptionally good appearance of the people of Inishowen and especially of Clonmany.

The Chapel that is being rebuilt was originally constructed between the years 1760 and 1770; it was added to in 1829, the year O'Connell won Catholic Emancipation for Ireland. Before that time Mass was said in a building on the side of Gaddyduff Hill. Only the foundation stone of the north-east corner of the old building remains, the other foundation stones having been carefully lifted out and carried away, leaving a hollow all round, marking out clearly the dimensions of the old building, which was about 80 feet long and less than 20 feet wide and of a semi-circular shape in the eastern side. It had no grave-yard.

Strange that of the traditions surviving, the most lively one extent is the one concerning the manner in which the youth of the congregation spent Sunday afternoon - and it was no Quaker one either. After attendance at Mass the youth are said to have engaged in caman-play, divided into two parties, constituted from each side of the Parish, and the victorious party - victory consisting in carrying the nog into their own territory- were called upon to entertain the conquered at the local hostelry, which was always done with goodwill and generosity.

A great change has come over the habits of the people since; caman-play is extinct and Sunday is spent with a decorum and propriety that would delight the strictest Sabatarian.

The townland in which the old Mass-House was situated, Gaddyduff, (Black Thief) is said to have taken its name from a former resident of predatory instincts, in connection with whom there is a very enjoyable legend. He was out one night in company with an accomplice on a sheep-stealing expedition. Sending the latter to the neighboring hill to procure some mutton to sup on, he entered the vestry-room of the Protestant Church, lit a fire and made preparations

 


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