It is a bright spring day in Clabby, there is barely a cloud in the sky and the road is busy given road works in the locality.

Linda O’Donnell and her Golden Doodle Luna are out for a walk. Luna is enthusiastic and greets this reporter and photographer with gusto.

Impartial Reporter: Linda O'Donnell and Luna the Golden DoodleLinda O'Donnell and Luna the Golden Doodle (Image: Tim Flaherty)

Her owner is praising the community as she describes Clabby as “a very tidy town, very clean. It’s nice, quiet and friendly – it is a typical country town.

“There are lovely walks around Clabby Forest, it’s a couple of miles, a hard couple of miles!

Ms O'Donnell praises how close the area is to local amnesties and says: “We are close to Tempo School, Fivemiletown School, they are shops as well and you are not far from Enniskillen either.”

In the village shop, Robinson’s Nearby Filling Station, husband and wife Nigel and Andrea Robinson are about to mark one year in business.

Impartial Reporter: Andrea Robinson Andrea Robinson (Image: Tim Flaherty)

“We took it over on the 31 of March last year so we are here almost a year," explained Mrs Robinson. 

“It has been good, we have hot food in the mornings which brings a lot of people in and we purchased an ice cream machine

“We are always trying to improve wee things."

She explained that loans from the Ulster Bank helped make the business a reality/ She describes a steady trade of both passing custom and local people “They are lovely, really friendly, really nice, just country folk, they stand and chat away and it's just really good.”

“The community is very close-knit, everybody knows everybody “It’s a good area, people are friendly.

 Everybody who lives here is happy!”

One of the people are the heart of the community is Daphne Armstrong, who is a hairdresser working at The Nu U Hair and Beauty Salon, in addition, she has the important role of chairperson of the Clabby Community Group.

Impartial Reporter: Daphne ArmstrongDaphne Armstrong (Image: Tim Flaherty)

Explaining her role, she said: “I have been involved about 40 years with a wee man Sam Haire, that used to own the post office and it started as a wee community thing, we had Christmas parties, we had activities.

“We were fighting for a playground but because we weren’t an organised group, we were getting nowhere but we decided to get the community together and start the wee group.

Laughing she said: “I was made chairperson and I am still there, 15 or 16 years later”.

Explaining how things have evolved she said: “We got the play area up and going, and the next venue was the MUGA, it was a challenge, as we had no money but we had some funding and applied for the grants, we then got it up and going.

“We do a wee collection for general things, we collected for the defib and got it and we do the Christmas party, I put up a bucket and we get donations for it, the Christmas party is for the children for the village and we do a senior citizens party which started ten years ago.

Canon Maurice Armstrong holds a large key as he walks toward St. Margaret’s Church. He explains that as the building is listed, the original door is still intact in this striking church as is the original key.

Impartial Reporter:  Rev. Canon Maurice Armstrong Rev. Canon Maurice Armstrong (Image: Tim Flaherty)

The church as it stands first opened in 1870 to replace a smaller combined church and school built by Rev. Potter, the first rector.

The church is something of a landmark in the area. Given its tall stature and stunning architecture, but a church is more than a building, it is about the people inside it.

“Churches here don’t just exist for worship on a Sunday morning, they reach out to the community.

The Church Hall is one example of hosting an active bowling group as well as a Scout group and being available for community usage, it has also hosted celebrations in the past which Canon Armstrong and his parishioners remember fondly.

“We have had events for fundraising and marked historic events such as for the Queen’s Golden, Diamond and Platinum jubilees and marked historical events.

Reflecting on his 23 years as a rector with times of sorrow and joy, he said: “The building of the church hall, the restoration of the church were highlights but life has evolved. There have been changes: births, marriages, deaths. You’ve seen the people who are active in the church have become old people or are no longer around.

“We are hoping and would like to think that now that the younger people will take up the mantel and carry on the work of the church here.”

Reflecting on the change in the community and indeed the wider church, he said: It is a small community, it has changed in the 20-odd years I have been here.

“The community has changed and church life has changed and is evolving, we are trying to maintain what is essentially the old, unchangeable truths of the gospel and present them in a new manner, while also trying to make the church relevant and encourage the younger people to become active members of the church, because that's the great battle of the church today.”

Many active organisations in the village do a lot to promote togetherness and community, one such organisation is the Irvine Memorial Pipe Band.

Impartial Reporter: Pipe Major, Neil Stronge, (left), leads his band, The Irvine Memorial, into the competition arena, as the take part in the finals of Grade 4B World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow.Pipe Major, Neil Stronge, (left), leads his band, The Irvine Memorial, into the competition arena, as the take part in the finals of Grade 4B World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow. (Image: John McVitty)

Not only are they a popular fixture in their home village but their excellence has been recognised by the various competitions they have competed in over the years.

Pipe Major, Neil Stronge reflected on the history of the band which was established in 1940 and is now steadily growing.

He has been Pipe Major since 2004 and says the band has a membership of around 25 and actively teaches the next generation. The membership is mostly from the local area: Clabby, Tempo, and Fivemiletown.

The band has evolved: “Since Covid, we started to do competitions as well, we are in the lower grades, we won an All-Ireland title in 2022.

“This year we are competing in all the major championships as well.”

Why do people get involved?

“Enjoyment and the community spirit," says Mr. Stronge.

Reflecting on why the village has such an upbeat spirit he said: “Everyone knows everybody and everyone looks out for each other.”

Impartial Reporter: St. Margaret's Parish Church, ClabbySt. Margaret's Parish Church, Clabby (Image: Tim Flaherty)