Fermanagh Gold Introduction

Father Clark, succeeded Fr. Goodwin as the parish priest at Saint Mary's Catholic Church in Newtownbutler in 1837. He was forced to flee from the parish in 1854 for officiating at the marriage of a Protestant girl, Ann Jones and a Catholic man named Patrick Teague. It appearently was considered a violation of the civil law for a priest to perform such a marriage and a warrant was immediately issued for Father Clark's arrest. A friendly policeman is said to have come from Lisnaskea to Newtownbutler disguised as a tramp and warned Father Clark of his impending capture and possible imprisonment. This enabled Father Clark to escape.

While preparing to write his book in 1971, John Joe McCusker attempted to find a person in the area who knew the words to an old local song that he had heard about Father Clark. The only person that he found who knew the words to the song was my late cousin Tommy Tinneny, the father of the late Peggy Tinneny McKenna, who was living in the townland of Cullion in Newtownbutler. Had it not been for Tommy, the words to the song about the much-revered Father Clarke would have been lost forever. Tommy remembered the song as follows:


Come on all you gallant Irishmen attend both one and all;
I hope you pay attention since on you I do call.
It's of a simple eulogy onto a martyr due,
For a Newtownbutler clergyman is always just and true.

A parish priest of no small zeal was forced by law to flee,
and leave his flock and parish and cross the raging sea.
Like Mary's flight to Egypt sure he was forced to go 
Through rolling seas and boundless waves where stormy winds do blow.

But civil pardon was obtained all by a worthy man,
Who for every cause of Prudence, right firmly did stand.
May he arise on the last day some happy visions see.
With Father Clarke by his right-hand his advocate to be.

Archbishop John and Fr. Stark could not refrain from tears,
When they learned the sudden exit of one of them so dear.
Some hundreds of our Irishmen marched with him to the quay,
Where the Albert Steamboat there did wait to take him far away.

Her solid engines did their work revolving night and day,
With Father Clarke on board of her she split the angry spray.
When he arrived back home in Ireland a welcome he received
From the clergy and the laity as you can plainly see.

With ecstasy they greeted him on his returning home,
For they knew he was a pillar in the Holy Church of  Rome.
The joy-bells of our chapel harmoniously did sound,
To see him dressed in Christ's blessed robes all in his seamless gown.

The Chalice of Salvation with his blessed hands did raise,
And that spotless Host he left again once more before their eyes.
Your sons of brave Hibernia for ever should be true,
To the Reverend Mr. Thornhill for what he helped to do.

Here's health unto the men who won, and all Crom's loyal men,
Who bravely fight to make our land a nation once again.
Hurrah for noble Erne who truly backed the cause;
Three cheers for valiant Goodwin, is worthy of applause.
For his Religious Pastor he exercised his skill.
And brought him back unto his flock from far beyond the hills.


Thomas Tinneny
Cullion, Newtownbutler

Contributed by Richard J. Tinneny