When it comes to fundraising, Raymond O’Hara from Greysteel knows all too well about the effort involved.
From selling tickets on the doors, to organising community festivals, the office administrator at Greysteel Community Centre has been there, done that and bought the T-shirt.
“We thought we were getting a new centre, but it seems to be on the back burner now. We are the hub of the community and we do lots of different classes, like Irish dancing, the Luncheon Club, line dancing and Pilates, but we want to hold more classes but there is only so much we can do in this building. It’s not a big building, but it’s the hub of the community and it would be nice to have a new centre as we really need it, and we need to fundraise continually and that’s hard.”
So, last year, Raymond decided it was time for a change when it came to fundraising for Greysteel Community Centre.
After six months of gathering and collecting material with local man, John Lynch, Faughanvale Parish Memories was published - 1,000 copies to be exact.
“We were involved in an historical project a few years back with a group from Lifford, and I thought we could raise funds doing something like this, locally. People are fed up buying tickets these days, it just doesn’t work the way it used to,” said Raymond.
“We thought about doing something about the history of the parish of Faughanvale. We knew it couldn’t be a full history, but just a snap shot of life in the parish down through the years. We went round the country and gathered loads of material, including photos, old stories and poems. We put a notice in the parish bulletin and we got a great response.”
The 52-page magazine, priced at £5, takes a trip down memory lane and features sports teams, sports stars, past mayors, music bands while taking a look back school life.
The magazine is packed with photographs of local people, well known characters, past and present clergy alongside tales about local characters.
The magazine reminds readers of different genres in fashion and the dodgy haircuts and dress of the 70s and 80s, different events celebrated in the community, to past traditions such as accordian bands, and thatching. There is also coverage of one of the worst atrocities to occur during the Troubles - the Rising Sun Massacre, which Raymond said: “We couldn’t do the magazine and not mention it.”
John Lynch from Eglinton, who is involved with the Waterside Voices literary project, admits there were times “when we felt like throwing it out window, but we are very pleased with the end result. The feedback we have received has been brilliant.”
Much to the surprise of Raymond and John, the magazine has been a huge hit in the parish with just a few copies left for purchase.
“We’re looking at another print run,” said Raymond. “We’re genuinely surprised at how popular the book has been. We’ve even been told they’ve been sent to Canada, America and Australia. It’s unbelievable for just a wee parish book.”
Raymond and John know the book doesn’t reflect the rich history of the parish - it was never meant to. They say that might be a project for another time.
“It’s not a history of the parish, just a snippet,” said Raymond. “Nearly everyone who has bought it knows someone in it, or is in it themselves or has a relation in it. It’s such an interesting book, believe it or not. It’s been a huge success. I can’t believe the way it has sold. It’s not a seasonal thing; it can sell throughout the year. We could get together with other local groups in the future and do a more in-depth detailed history of the parish and, maybe, run a course in the Centre to get people involved. I suppose, it has brought back memories for people. Everyone says it’s a great magazine and they’ve really enjoyed.”
John is delighted with how the magazine turned out.
“So many people are saying how they’ve enjoyed it and how they know someone that’s in it. Nearly everyone who has bought it knows someone who is in it. I was asked to give a hand and I’m glad I did,” said John, adding: “We had a few setbacks, but it worked out well and was out in time for Christmas. It’s great to see people enjoying it, and to see the community benefit from it.”
Raymond added: “People can pick up a copy in the local shop and at the office here in the Community Centre. Most people have bought it now, but it would still make a good gift to send people who are far away. It’s Greysteel’s bestseller!”