Right Rev Monsignor John O’Doherty P.P., V.G. Strabane (1843-1933)

On September 24, 2020 by Kathleen Travers

Born 29 September 1843 in the Glebe Clonmany. Son of Bryan O’Doherty. His sister Bridget married Frank Doherty Magheramore Clonmany in 1858. Known to many as “Father John”, he received his early education at James Doherty’s Hedge school at Tirhoran Clonmany, Mr. O’Kane’s at Fore Glen and Mr. Coyle’s William Street Derry. From the latter school he went to Maynooth in 1866 and was ordained on 7th April 1872 by Bishop O’Kelly at the Long Tower church in Derry.

Right Rev Monsignor John O’Doherty

His Church career began as a curate at of Termonamongan and then he transferred to St. Eugene’s Cathedral in Derry where he acted as administrator until 1889. He ministered both in St. Eugene’s and the Long Tower. He quickly established a reputation for tirelessly working for the people both in the Church, Schools and in their homes. He was the first Spiritual Director of the society of the Immaculate Heart of Mary which under the charge of his nephew Fr. John O’Doherty C.C.(Son of Bridget and Frank Doherty) became one of the largest and most successful religious and temperance societies of women in the whole country.

From his childhood in Clonmany, he witnessed first-hand the ravages of the famine on the community. He was the first priest to identify himself actively with the political activities of the people. He took a leading part in the Land League struggle. When the League rooms opened in William Street, he attended one of the earliest meetings and received a standing ovation. He presided at all the meetings and demonstrations. During the days of the Donegal evictions, he was a moving spirit in the sympathetic and supporting movement in Derry. In 1889 he was transferred as administrator to Carndonagh where he became the Parish Priest and subsequently a vicar general of the Diocese.

Later he was appointed the Parish priest of Camus and Clonleigh where he spent the remainder of his life. In 1919 he was made Monsignor. During his time in Carndonagh he played a role in the extension of the Derry and Lough Swilly Railway from Buncrana to Carndonagh. He was also one of the founders of the Carndonagh Agricultural Show. Until his death, he was chairman of the Strabane Agricultural Society and a member of the Technical School Committee. He was also a manager of Barrack Street School. He was present at the opening of St. Columbs College, Derry. He died in November 1933 and was laid to rest in Strabane. His obituary describes him as “one of the greatest priests who has adorned the ecclesiatial annals of the diocese of St. Eugene”.

Tina Porter WIHHS 2020

Comments are closed.