Harvest Thanksgiving and Dedication Service in Slavin Church

Slavin Church was packed to full capacity, for a Service of Harvest Thanksgiving on Friday 16th September. A poem written by Katherine Cecilia Elliott was also dedicated, to hang on the Church wall. Katherine was born in London 1850 and was the daughter of Robert Armstrong Founder, of Belleek Pottery. She attended boarding school in France and Germany. Katherine was a talented artist, musician and poet. In spite of disapproval from her parents, Katherine married James Elliott, a local tenant farmer, and they experienced great hardship in the 1870’s. Katherine who had been used to servants, had to survive by working hard, bringing up her family, on the farm.

In the midst of struggling to make ends meet, she found great comfort in her Church and grew in her faith, as she became involved in Slavin Church. She was a talented musician and used her gift to train a ladies’ choir. Katherine raised funds to buy a church organ, becoming the first organist of Slavin and she continued to train the choir. Katherine wrote a number of poems; some reflecting the comfort she found in her faith, and a poem entitled ‘Slavin Church’.
The service was conducted by the Rector, Rev. Ngozi Njoku, who also carried out the dedication of the poem, which was presented by the Church Wardens, Raymond Gregg and Thomas Ovens.

At the Service of Dedication, the history of the poem was outlined by Mrs Vivienne Ferguson, from Devenish Parish. Vivienne is married to Robin, a great grandson of Katherine. Many of the Devenish parishioners attended the service.
Former organists of the Church attended and other guests included descendents of Katherine Elliott. Some had travelled from as far away as Cork and England. Mrs. Rosemary Barton MLA and John Maguire, Managing Director of Belleek Pottery also attended, with his wife, Catherine. Mr. Alex Baird, local Councillor attended.
The service was attended by Belleek Collectors, Pat and Brian Russell from Portsmouth in Hampshire, and Charles Easthope from Wolverhampton.

The Combined Choir of the four churches accompanied by Ethne Earls and Joy Graham, sang the Anthems, ‘The Church is Wherever God’s people are Praising’, ‘Isn’t the love of Jesus something wonderful?’, and a piece entitled, ‘God’s Choir’ which was dedicated to Katherine. Rev. Noel Regan a former Rector said grace before supper.
Supper was served by the ladies of Slavin in church after the service.

The parishioners of Slavin are extremely grateful to all who attended the service, making it a successful event. They are also grateful to the late Valerie Irwin from Kiltyclogher Parish, who researched the History of the four Churches in the Garrison group, and from whose book the story of Katharine Cecilia Elliott was taken.

Great grandchildren of Katherine Elliott, backrow Stanley McAllister, Robin Ferguson, Ernie McAllister (from Cork) and Betty Bootman (Norfolk). Also present are Viviene Ferguson (wife of Robin Ferguson) and Sharon Marks (daughter of Robin Ferguson).

Seated is Elliott Ernie Elliott, grandson of Katherine and his wife Pauline Elliott.

John Maguire Managing Director of Belleek Pottery with Rev. Ngozi Njoku, Rector of Slavin Parish and Rosemary Barton MLA.

Rev Noel Regan who attended the service with his wife Joan and cousin May

Belleek Collectors who travelled from England for the service
Charles Easthope, Pat and Brian Russell

Church wardens Thomas Ovens and Raymond Gregg with the printed copy of Katherine Elliott's poem, entitled 'Slavin Church'


Vivienne Ferguson, who spoke about Katherine Elliott and her husband Robin, great grandson of Katherine with Rev. Ngozi Njoku

Joe O'Loughlin, local Historian with his wife Ina

The Combined Choir of Garrison,  Slavin Belleek and Kiltyclogher Churches

Former organists of Slavin Church who attended the Harvest and dedication service on Friday 16th September. Included is present organist Ethne Earls

Ida Byers & Betty Bootman (great granddaughters of Katherine Elliott), also inlcuded are Noel Byer (husband of Ida Byers) and Rev. Ngozi Njoku.

Catherine & John Maguire (Managing Director of Belleek Pottery)
Rosemary Barton (MLA) & Marcus Barton
The poem written by Katherine Cecilia Elliott hangs on the wall in Slavin Church

Slavin Church

 'Mid sheltering shade of branching trees
That firmly face each storm and breeze,
Stands God's house, holy place of rest,
May all who worship here be blest.

The old gate swings 'neath chestnuts fair,
Whose spire-like flow'rs perfume the air,
The everlasting hills stand round,
Pointing above the Earth's vain sound.

How many souls this path  have trod,
Who now are happy with their God,
Their graves are here, their bodies sleep,
And angels, here, sweet vigils keep.

White clad and shining, fair and calm,
They join in holy hymn and psalm,
They guard the dead 'neath each green mound
Waiting the trumpet's  wak'ning sound.

O happy trust to those who lay
Here their dear dead till that Great Day,
In God's holy Acre they rest
In God's keeping; how truly blest.

The restless waves of Erne's broad lake
Here ceaseless sound for ever make,
Still surging 'gainst the shingle shore
Till time and seas shall be no more

O lovely place of holy calm,
Where souls find rest, and sorrows
A foretaste here our God doth
Of  Heaven, where Sabbaths never end.

Composed by  Katherine Cecilia  Armstrong -  Choir Mistress and Organist of Slavin Church
Born 17th September 1850 in London
Died  21st August  1910,   aged 59 years  
Buried at  Slavin Church