Canon T Maguire was born in 1873 in Rossinure, amid the rugged beauty of Knockmore. Many years of his youth were spent in his grandfather’s home in Farnaconnell, Boho, where he was reared by aunts and uncles. One of his uncles was a priest in Iniskeen, Co Monaghan, and Canon Maguire was sent to St Macartan’s Seminary, Monaghan, which was followed by five years on a scholarship in the Irish College, Paris. He came back to Macartan’s and taught there before being ordained in 1900 in Maynooth.
There followed two years as a curate in Brookborough, followed by a short period in Garrison, then twelve years in Magheracloone.
He became P.P of Aghabog, Co Monaghan in 1920, and over the course of sixteen years, achieved massively in terms of leading the rebuilding of a church, building a new school and repairing three others. He was prolific in terms of fundraising. He also organised an annual Gaelic festival, a football team, a camogie team, and winter classes in the Irish language.
He became PP of Newtownbutler in 1936, and the same pattern of fundraising and reconstruction as in Aghabog was repeated, with GAA activities and parades in period costume portraying events in Irish history attracting wide publicity.
During his time in Monaghan, he had become a very good friend of Michael Collins, receiving letters from him during the treaty negotiations of 1920 – 21, which led to the establishment of the Irish Free State, albeit minus the six counties of Northern Ireland, which had been established in 1920 by the Government of Ireland Act. Fr Maguire was disappointed that Collins returned with a “divided Ireland”. Collins asserted that the Boundary Commission would unite the country. Fr Maguire then asked him what he would do if it didn’t, to which Collins replied, “By heavens, I’ll go to the hills.” Fr Maguire never saw him again, as Collins was killed months later in August 1922. Over the years and decades which followed, he supported the organisation of Fianna Fail under Eamon De Valera and he also enjoyed the friendship of Taoiseach Sean Lemass. Canon Maguire was a renowned campaigner for Irish unity, and he was very prominent in highlighting malpractices of the Stormont government. He retained a very active interest in all things Irish – religious, cultural and political right up until his death in 1968.
Canon Maguire returned to Derrygonnelly on May 13th, 1962,at almost 90 years of age to bless and declare the pitch named after him open, in view of his old home under the shadow of Knockmore.
Pictured at Pitch Opening, 1962.
L-R: Eamon Maguire, Fr McHugh, Canon Maguire, Fr Finnegan, John McElholm (Fermanagh County Board), Paddy McFlynn (Ulster GAA), Joe Farrell.
Altar Boys: Tony Gallagher, Donal Fee.