West, Sara Statement

Owner of Crocknacrieve, Ireland Convention

I grew up in the same town (Enniskillen) as Edward Cooney and knew that he with Tom Betty and my husband John West (deceased) held evangelical meetings together in connection with the different churches. Edward Cooney was then in fellowship with William Irvine of Kilsyth, Scotland and others including William Carroll (deceased), George Walker, Thomas Elliott and his wife.

At that time Edward Cooney travelled through Ireland in connection with his father’s business and met William Irvine a preacher who was moving out from the Faith Mission to go forth without purse etc. (Matthew ten) to preach the gospel of Jesus, the Son of God (Mark 1:1) on apostolic lines; he was seeking after truth and clearer light. These things happened in 1890s and onwards.

About 1902-3 my husband and I went to meetings in a cottage owned by Tilly Moore who afterwards became a preacher. She was a convert of Edward Cooney’s who had given up money and possessions sometime previous to this to preach the Gospel of Jesus in fellowship with William Irvine. In those meetings referred to we heard Thomas Elliott, one of this small group of preachers give testimony to having sold his home and farm to go forth with his wife to live a life of faith preaching the Gospel of Jesus.

Believing them to be God’s true people we became one with them in the faith and opened our home to them. Many others in the County did the same thing; among them were my husband’s brother Wm. West of Mullaghmeen, Ballinamallard, also three sisters, Mrs. Roberts and husband, Mrs. Reid, and Miss West, Bournemouth, England.

About this time William Irvine and Edward Cooney asked my husband and I if we would be willing to have convention in our home. We were willing and conventions were held there (Crocknacrieve) until 1920 when we sold it and came to live at Rossahilly, Ballinamallard. After that conventions were held at Mullaghmeen.

In 1928 an overseer preacher, Wilson Reid, who often visited our home told us that Edward Cooney who was then in America was coming home and warned us that he was giving trouble out there and not to have fellowship with him. George Walker and others called on the same mission of warning. My husband and others suggested having a meeting on Bible lines with elders and have Edward Cooney there too so that both sides would be heard by them to judge. A meeting was arranged in Irvinestown but Edward Cooney was not there.

My husband and others then decided to keep an open mind until Edward Cooney came back and hear his side. They thought it very strange to hear that Edward would change and preach false doctrine inside a few years because we knew that God had used him in a great measure in different parts of England and Ireland. Wilson Reid and many in fellowship with us never came back to our home after making the decision to hear Edward Cooney’s side.

When Edward Cooney did come back we could not see any change in him; he was as sincere and ardent as ever preaching the same simple gospel as we heard at the beginning. A meeting of old workers was held in Clankilvora, an open home near Lurgan, Co. Armagh, among them being T. Elliott, Jack Caroll, Wm. Gill (deceased) etc. J. Carroll refused to listen or have fellowship with Edward Cooney who was also there. Thomas Elliott stood by Edward Cooney at that time because he saw an unrighteous act being done towards him. To the sorrow of many those who kept their homes open to Edward Cooney became outcast from their brethren and in that way the division started.

I should mention here that William Irvine (deceased) professed through Rev. John McNeill (Presbyterian) Scotland some years before going forth to preach on apostolic lines. Many of the older ones in fellowship for a long time felt there was a drift in testimony towards organization and compromise with world’s way, away from simplicity of Christ, before division took place and we then understood that the trouble! Edward Cooney was charged with causing in America was his anxiety as an elder, to warn his brethren of the falling away from early teaching.

Sara West
Rossahilly, Ballinamallard
Co. Fermanagh, Northern Ireland
August 31, 1954