14th October, 1999


At this time of celebration on the re-opening and re-dedication of St. Columba’s Church let us pause a while and remember someone who had a long association with the Church. That someone is Hannah Foley who served as Sacristan there for 46 years. Mrs. Foley came to Douglas from Ninety Eight Street as a very young girl to stay with an elderly relative at the Fingerpost. She was then known by her maiden name Hannah Flynn. She worked for some time in O’Brien’s Mills as it was then. She also lived in Donnybrook for some time and in 1919 she married Tim Foley and settled in Douglas West. She began work as Sacristan on July 16th, 1930 and remained there until her death on August 2nd, 1976. She performed her duties at the Church and passed peacefully away in the early hours of August 3rd.
During her years at the Church her duties consisted of opening the Church for early Mass and ringing the bell. She also had to ring the bell for the Angelus at twelve noon and at six in the evening and lock the Church at 9.00 p.m. Her duties consisted of being responsible for the care of the altar and linens and for the cleaning of the Church. She had to be present at Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals and I am sure many parents will remember the flask of warm water she brought to the Baptismal font for babies’ christenings. She never let a funeral leave the Church without ringing the bell. Many altar boys passed through her hands over the years and benefited from her generosity. Mrs. Foley was a person of a very generous nature and what she got in one hand she gave away with the other. She was a familiar figure in the locality going to and from the Church each day, dressed in black since the death of her husband in 1946. During her years there she served under six Parish Priests and many curates. However, the years took their toll and her duties were curtailed somewhat insofar as the priests opened the Church in the mornings and locked it at night and she had to employ two women to do the Church cleaning. Many of her former priests returned to her funeral including Fr. Dooley who left his home in Offaly in the early hours of the morning to reach Douglas in time. A plaque was erected in her memory in the sacristy and a ciborium donated also.

That is the story of Hannah Foley and she is now looking down with pride on the Church she loved and served so well.

This poem was written by a neighbour of Mrs. Foley while she was still alive and the last two verses were added after her death. The neighbours name was Kathleen Scannell and the poem speaks for itself.

A Tribute to a True Friend

I knew a dear kind lady
Maybe not of great fame
She was my Mother’s best friend
Hannah Foley was her name.
She shared her lot with others
If she thought they were in want
Always willing to lend a helping hand
But asked nothing in return.
If one asked her for a favour
She always gave so much
The hardworking little lady
The caretaker of a Church
She was up at early morning
While others were asleep
But not this little lady
She was always on her feet.
God grant you peace and plenty
Hope your troubles are but few
God bless you Hannah Foley
That’s my prayer for you.
Now it’s farewell dearest Hannah
God has called you home
Reunited with your loved ones
May you wear the crown you won.
We all miss you very sadly
The place won’t be the same
But you are with your Maker
Heaven is your gain.

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