A commemorative weekend is planned for the last weekend in June, 2015, to mark the remarkable events of June 1915 in Cliffoney, led by Fr. Michael O’Flanagan. For more information contact Martin on 071 9131995.
Fr. O’Flanagan was sent to Cliffoney in August 1914. A great public speaker, socialist, and reformer, O’Flanagan stood up for the local people in June of 1915, in what became known as the Cloonercoo bog fight.
About 2 miles from Cliffoney, there were 300 acres of bog owned by the Congested Districts Board, from which locals were forbidden to cut turf.
On Sunday 28th June, Father O’Flanagan asked the congregation to remain after mass, when he told the people to go home and sharpen their spades, and to gather at the Parochial house the following morning. Next day, he led a march up to Cloonercoo bog, where he cut the first sods himself in defiance of the R.I.C. who had followed the march.
The large quantity of turf that was cut that day was quickly saved and brought down to the village, where it was stacked in a reek in front of Cliffoney hall.
Father O’Flanagan put a tri-colour on the stack of turf, with a banner in Irish saying Ar Moin Fein (Our turf for ourselves); the R.I.C. from the barracks across the street would remove the flag, and Sinn Fein would have another up next day, and this went on for some time.
In August 1915 Bishop Coyne abruptly transferred Father O’Flanagan to Crossna in Co Roscommon.
The people of Cliffoney were having none of this; they wanted their curate back. It was decided to close up the church until Bishop Coyne sent back Father O’Flanagan to Cliffoney.
Sentries kept watch at the church night and day. A large delegation from the Parish of Ahamlish, some 300 in all, made their way into Sligo , but the Bishop would not meet with them. The church remained locked until Christmas Eve, 1915.