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Peter F Durnin, KC*SG, KM, GCHS, "Rosaire", Moneymore, Drogheda, Co Louth. A92 RF6F



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About me

1859- 1931 Seed merchant from Magherafelt, Co Derry.   Magistrate. Invested in the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption, Magherafelt (1882) by Canon Quinn PP VG, followed by presentation of the regalia.  Per Freemans Journal the papal nuncio at three courts: Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg assisted in the honour being presented to the Pope. The regalia was presented to him by the Secretary to the Nuncio, Vy Rev Dr. Loughran. 100 guests afterward had dinner at Millbrook, Higgins’ residence. “According to my mother the story of how her father came to be awarded the KSG  is as follows. He was a businessman in Magherafelt, Co Derry in the early part of the last century. He was a seed merchant and my mother told me he often went to markets in neighbouring towns by horse and trap. She recalled that on foggy days a man went if front with a red flag and lamp to warn others of the oncoming traffic! I understand he was a generous man and supported the church in many ways. The church of the Assumption in Magherafelt has an organ donated by my grandfather. I am not aware of his date of birth but would imagine it was around 1850. I do not know a lot of the biographical details of  Laurence Higgins, except that he was from a large family. He married but unfortunately his wife died young with no family. Around 1910 he married again and there were four children. Laurence James was the eldest, Kathleen (my mother dob 15/08/1914) was next. Two other girls both died in childhood. Dr LJ Higgins lived and practised as a GP till retirement in 1975. He moved to Portstewart and he died in 1998. My mother died in 1999. At some stage in the second decade of the last century he was contacted by an impoverished (?) bishop from Belgium, who understood LH to be a silk merchant. He had been elevated to the College of Cardinals and required red silk for his new robes. LH contacted him and explained that he was not a silk merchant, but he told the bishop to get whatever he needed and he would pay for it. This was a Cardinal NIKOTRA who was papal legate to the court of Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg. He ended up as legate in Lisbon. The photograph of this cardinal was annotated on the back by my mother, that the award to her father was recommended by Cardinal Nikotra with the approval of Cardinal Logue and the Irish Papal Nuncio. My mother gave me the medal as I had worn it at my confirmation in 1955, (confirmation name Gregory). I also wore in Rome in 1999 at the beatification of Blessed, now Saint Padre Pio. I am also in possession of the illuminated certificate, or a copy of it and also a “Bene Merenti” medal from Pope Benedict XV (1914 – 1922). The Order of St Gregory medal is still in the original package in which it was sent from Rome. The stamps are still present and franked Feb 1921 (per Ailbe Beirne 13 Nov 2009, Retired Consultant Physician in Geriatric Medicine). He died on 11 April, 1931 and is buried in St. Johns Cemetery, Milltown, Magherafelt.