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The big Father Michael O'Flanagan trad session is held in O'Donnell's Bar, Cliffoney, County Sligo on the last Saturday of every month.

 

Twenty-eight relatives of Father Michael O'Flanagan gather on the altar of St Molaise's church in Cliffoney, County Sligo on Saturday 28th November 2015.


Fr Michael's family visit Cliffoney, November 2015

8.00 — late, last Saturday of every month.

The report of the meeting discloses the hectoring customary in officialdom under pressure. Russell called upon the meeting to ignore the O'Flanagan amendment even if they were to vote down his own resolution. O'Flanagan's request, he said, was like asking for the moon. 'You are carried off your heads,' he averred, 'Vote down the Board's resolution and put yourself out of step with the rest of the country.'

Replying to Russell's jibe that the opponents of his motion were play-acting, Michael O'Flanagan declared that Russell and his like were more experienced in the game of play-acting than the people at the meeting. Canon Doorley put the resolution rather than the amendment to the meeting. It was passed. In a matter of days Fr O'Flanagan was changed from his parish at Cliffoney.

It was a chilling reminder, not the first and by no means the last, of the collusion between higher clergy and higher officialdom. It may also be a further evidence of the unease in both Church and State before the words of a radical social critic. However, the people of Cliffoney did not share their bishop's view. Having fruitlessly approached Dr Coyne on several occasions, they barred the church against Fr O'Flanagan's unfortunate successor, Fr McHugh. The rosary was reguarly said outside the locked church.

Prayers for Fr O'Flanagan were recited at the foot of a cross in the church grounds. A few weeks after Fr O'Flanagan's precipitous removal, a resident of Cloonkeen, Cliffoney repeatedly asked the bishop that 'you will send us back our poor, dear Fr O'Flanagan who was an ornament to the Roman Catholic church of Cliffoney and who, during his short stay with us, has discharged his duties in a manner that no other priest has done in my memory.' Dr Coyne's firmness outpaced his courtesy to the people of Cliffoney and Grange. He remained obdurate to all protests, refusing either to alter of explain his action in regard to Fr O'Flanagan. The church remained closed until Christmas Day, 1915