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The Altar & Graveyard

A brief history. According to tradition Mass was celebrated on the Disert altar in penal times. The priest was said to travel up and down the river Eany between the Alt in Ardaghey saying mass in each, on alternate Sundays. The bullaun stones were said to have been used as candle holders. Fr. Dominic Cannon was parish priest of Inver from the 1770"s until his death in 1801. He is said to have been the last to celebrate Mass in Disert. Fr. Cannon erected the first "Mass house" in the parish at Frosses- adjacent to the site of the present Church, which was built in 1808. In keeping with Church decrees the celebration of Mass and administration of sacraments was being moved into the Churches where possible and after the death of Fr. Cannon, Mass was no longer celebrated in Disert.

From the Plantation of Ulster the graveyard as well as the Church at Inver had been taken over by the Established Church. The Catholics continued to use one side of the graveyard for burying their dead until the new graveyard opened in Frosses in 1841. From then on no priest would officiate at funerals in Disert and the graveyard fell into disuse. Indeed, no family in the area today can point to the burying ground they held there. Some of the inhabitants of the area had moved in from the Glen of Glenties- they carried their dead out of the hills for burials in the old graveyard there for a time. The graveyard at Disert continued to be used for the burial of unbaptised infants until the 1930s. Disert Clay.

Like other Columban sites in Donegal, such as Gartan and Tory, the clay at Disert is said to banish rats. The clay must be lifted from the right hand side of the altar and in former times great stress was laid on it being asked for and received with great reverence. Newspaper reports have suggested that uranium in the clay caused it to banish rats but these reports haven"t lessened the belief in its power. Until recently Disert clay was often put in the foundation when houses were being built.