New Book On Old Presbyterian Church In Tralee

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A NEW book exploring the fascinating history of an old church in Tralee has just been launched.

‘Recollections of the Presbyterian Church Tralee’ is an intimate portrait of the church that once stood on Edward Street on the site now occupied by the Post Office car park.

Its author, the late Russell McMorran of Tralee who passed away in December 2019, brings back to life the families who filled the pews, the Hendersons, the Hoffmans, the Lunhams and the Lumsdens.

Russell, the erstwhile historian, felt the responsibility to document the church of his birth, and duly obliged – wrestling duty with other demands on his time, and other projects that truly absorbed him.

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As such, his sudden death on 5 December 2019 left the work unfinished. Over the last five months, his brothers, Clare and Chris, with the assistance of Janet Murphy, Castleisland District Heritage, have carefully moulded Russell’s manuscript into a semblance of his original plan.

A biographical sketch of the author has also been introduced together with family photographs.

The result is a 164-page record of Tralee Presbyterian Church which captures both the essence of the church and its history.

There are chapters on William Rorke the schoolmaster, John Leslie the Abbeydorney ploughman, and the Reids of Ballyheigue – of whom one kept house at Ballyheigue Castle.

In a chapter about Elise Sandes, founder of the Sandes’ Soldiers’ Homes, we learn of her spiritual awakening in the Tralee church.

Past ministers are returned to the scene of their labours: Rev William Wallace Chestnut, who served the church for 44 years, and left a remarkably talented family, and Rev John Robert Bartley, who died so tragically on the SS Leinster in 1918, en route to visit his wounded son – who also lost his life.

And of course, the Rev Frank McMorran, the last minister to serve the church – whose eldest son penned this memoir.

The book is available in Jackie Reidy Newsagent and Menswear, Main Street, Castleisland or on application to Castleisland District Heritage

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