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,
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
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.