Protestant Minister and Catholic Priest
St Columba’s Straid, Clonmany now roofless and in ruin has the footprint of the original monastic site which gave the parish its name Cluain Maine (the monk, Maine’s meadow). The local Conservation Group has plans to stabilise it and improve access to the public.
Just beyond the Church on the same side of the road stood Dresden, the beautiful mansion built by Rev Daniel Mc Laughlin, Rector of Clonmany 1672-1711. Mc Laughlin’s story and the story of his family is well documented and highlights the plight of the Irish at that time and the choices they made. The Rev Daniel (Domhnall Gorm as he was called because of his blue clerical clothing) was a native of the Redcastle area of Inishowen. Sir Arthur Chichester, Lord Deputy of Ireland 1605-1616 who at the Plantation of Ulster was given the lands of Inishowen, allowed the Mc Laughlins of Clar to remain on their ancestral land. Domhnall and his brother Peadar who were destined for the Roman Catholic priesthood were dispatched to the Continent to enter an Irish college, as there were no seminaries in Ireland then.
The boat in which they sailed was shipwrecked on the English coast and the two young men were taken to the house of a nobleman who interested himself in their fate. He offered to have them educated in one of the English Universities, if they conformed to the religion of the Established Church. Peadar (Peter) refused and continued his journey and was eventually ordained a priest of the Franciscan Order, probably in Louvain. Domhnall changed his religion and his name to Daniel, went to an English University and in due time was ordained a clergyman of the Established Church. In 1772 he was appointed Rector of Clonmany parish where his brother now served as a priest. The two brothers found themselves in different circumstances. Daniel had a well built church but few parishioners, Peter had a large congregation but their only places of worship were the Mass rocks by the seashore or on the mountains. His house was a miserable little thatched cabin by the shore in the townland of Crossconnell.
Sketch of Dresden, the ministers house in the parish of Clonmany, drawn by Captain William Smith in 1807. Courtesy Trinity College, Dublin
Daniel married Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Skipton of Ballyshaskey and his wife Charity, daughter of Sir Thomas Staples, of Lissane. They had two sons and four daughters. George, the eldest son, had a M.A. from Trinity College and was Rector of Errigal Parish, Garvagh, Co. Derry from 1832-36. Owen married his cousin, Elizabeth, sister to Sir Alexander Staples. Ann married Robert Keys and had a son George. Mary married John Doherty and had a son, John and Charity married Michael Doherty and had two sons Daniel and George. These Dohertys were probably Clonmany men and may have been from Tullagh and Leenan as Doherty families there , like the Mc Laughlins, were allowed to hold on to ancestral lands after the Plantation of Inishowen.