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Chesney booked Boomtown Rats 25.08.10

by Linda McGrory

FATHER James Chesney once tried to book the Boomtown Rats for a community fundraising gig in Co Donegal.
It was the late seventies and the controversial priest was serving as chaplain at a nursing home for the elderly run by the Sisters of Nazareth in Fahan, near Buncrana.
This was his second posting in the Inishowen peninsula after his three years serving as curate in the farthest reaches of the diocese, in Malin Head, from 1974 to 1977.
As chaplain to the Nazareth House, Fahan, from 1978 until 1980, he became friendly with a village committee in nearby Burnfoot. They were trying to get a building off the ground to house their fledgling sports centre, Aileach Youth Club.
They appeared to find a champion in fundraiser-par-excellence, Fr Chesney, whom Ivan Cooper MP once described as "in a different league" in terms of organising large social events.
Aileach Youth Club's current treasurer, Denis Donaghey, explained yesterday: “(Fr Chesney) thought that Burnfoot needed a sports facility of its own as local children had to go to parochial halls in Burt, Fahan and Inch."
Mr Donaghey said the club cost £180,000 to build and the local community raised all but £40,000 of the money.
He said a marquee was ordered for a barn dance to celebrate the opening of the club's new building and Fr Chesney took charge of the entertainment.

“Father Chesney decided to book some music for the opening of the club and he chose a relatively unheard of band at the time called the Boomtown Rats. But by the time the barn dance was to happen, they had had their number one hit in the UK and Ireland and their fans would not fit into the marquee that was ordered to put the show on. They had to cancel," added Mr Donaghey.
He said he was shocked when news of the allegations first began to emerge about Fr Chesney.
"I was only around 21 when the first youth club committee was working
A marble plaque dedicated to Fr James Chesney on the wall at Aileach Youth and Social Club in Burnfoot, Co Donegal.
with Fr Chesney. I always respected him for the work he did for the community here in Burnfoot. He is dead now and he can't defend himself," said Mr Donaghey.
"We are very proud that Aileach is used by people from different religions. We made sure the colours around the building were always neutral so that they wouldn’t offend anyone," he added. Aileach Youth Club was officially opened on March 9, 1984 - the date chosen as a tribute to Fr Chesney who died of cancer on the same day four years earlier. A wall plaque in memory of the late priest now stands at the entrance.
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