Chapel Bell History

Lavey Chapel never had a real metal church bell although apparently a proposal was made to build a tower in the late 1800s which might have contained a bell.


We are led to believe that Fr  James Maguire PP Lavey set up the first electronic Angelus bell system at Lavey Chapel around the 1960/70 era. It was made by Tannoy, and had 4 speakers, two mounted next the new graveyard and two next Mulhollands. They were mounted high up on the chapel barges and seemed to be expertly and carefully placed to throw the sound out to the parish. The Angelus bell could be heard clearly most days even as far away as Ballymacpeake. The sound system itself was the size of a small fridge and seemed to contain electronic valves and some clockwork timing mechanisms. It was placed on a window sill in the old sacristy. It was used solely to ring the Angelus but someone said an Altar server was sometimes used by Fr Maguire to manually ring it as a funeral bell. Fr Maguire apparently used a watch to tap out a bell ring every 30 seconds for half an hour. The altar boy pushed a lever or button to make a single ring each time prompted by Fr Maguire.

The Tannoy Angelus Bell system eventually stopped working, possibly in the 1990s, after many years service.

The photo below shows the Angelus bell system on the window sill, above the safe, of the chapel sacristy. Photo around 1996. I am reliably informed that it was still working at that time.

Tannoy Angelus Bell Lavey Chapel Co Derry Ireland

The Tannoy speakers were mounted in pairs either side of the chapel and were still working till their removal prior to renovations 2018.

Angelus Bell relaunched using a computer in 2004.

An old used Advent brand computer running the windows operating system was used to restart the chapel bell tradition. (Photograph above dated July 2004) The system comprising a crt monitor, keyboard, mouse, system tower containing the electronics and hard drive was placed on the window sill alcove of the old sacristy. I wonder what that box was for to right of system ? The computer audio output was connected to a TOA amplifier and then to the old speaker cables running to the loudspeakers outside. Using a combination of audio and scheduling software a pre-recorded angelus bell melody was played at midday and 6pm. Amazingly the four old tannoy loudspeakers mounted on the chapel still worked and continued to sound the bell for years to come until the chapel closed for major renovations in 2018.

The Angelus bell system can be seen in this photo of Fr O'Donnell PP with altar servers.

The Angelus Bell had started to ring again on the 17th March 2004.

A new Packard Bell brand computer with a more up to date windows operating system was purchased on 24th November 2005 by Fr O'Donnell to replace the old Advent computer. The advantage of the new computer was that the system could hibernate meaning I did not have to switch it off every night in case it went on fire and burned down the chapel.

The computer system was also used to start the tradition of playing music through the Tannoy speakers at Christmas and on Feast days such as St Patricks Day.  Queen of the May was played on the first Sunday of May. The tradition of ringing a funeral bell was also restarted. Marie Celine McCloy sacristant at that time, give me the settings for a funeral bell toll. It was programmed to play a single bell strike sound every 30 seconds for half an hour before a funeral arrived.

Photo below shows the Packard Angelus Bell computer on the window sill of the old sacristy. This system was closed down and removed in 2018 in preparation for a major chapel renovation.

Packard Bell computer Angelus Bell Lavey Chapel Co Derry Ireland

The photo below shows two Tannoy speakers being removed by experts prior to the 2018 chapel renovation. These speakers would have been in place since at least the 1970s. 

Chapel bell new installation 2019

The Chapel bell now is managed by an electronic Beltron system of Italian origin, supplied and installed by ITech Media. The bell is controlled by an internal timer but can also be played manually by the Parish Priest or chapel sacristants. It contains a selection of pre-recorded bell sounds, wedding bells, Christmas music  and various melodies. It is mounted on a wall in the sacristy and relays the sound to three speakers on a pole at the 'womens' door or new graveyard side and two smaller speakers next the front door. The bell tolls daily calling the faithful to Mass in person or online.


Beltron electronicangelus bell



The Angelus bell rings a call to prayer daily at Lavey Chapel, midday, 6pm and 9 pm.





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