In the Marian year of 1954 the people of Ballyine came together in an extraordinary community effort and erected a shrine to Our Lady on a spot where masses were said in Penal Times.
Months of preparation went into the project with local people preparing the site and arranging for the life size statue of our lady to be mounted on its pedestal. Sunday 15th August was the date of unveiling and Mass was said to a congregation of approximately two thousand people who had made the difficult climb up to the shrine. It was in stark contrast to the days when Mass was said in secret on the very same spot, high up in the hills with lookouts at every corner.
The shrine was unveiled by Rev Fr Ruddle PP Ardagh/Carrickerry and Mass was celebrated by Rev Fr Fitzgibbon CC Ardagh/Carrickerry. The rosary was recited in English and Irish by Rev Kelly CC Newcastle West. The Bishop of Limerick was an absentee being in Lourdes at the time and was represented by Right rev Monsignor Hannan PP, VG, of Newcastle West. A number of other clergy and Sisters from the Mercy Order were also in attendance.
After the ceremonies conclude the majority of the people remained on for some time saying their own special prayers for their intentions. Many filled containers with water from the well, which had been accidentally discovered during the erection of the Shrine.
Full credit must be paid to the local people who had the idea and actually worked to make it a reality. Members of the organising committee included Pat Kennedy, Tom Mulvihill, John Sheahan, John Kennedy, John Lee, John Doody, Jerry O’Connell, John Kiely, J.J O’Sullivan, Maurice Dooley, William Barrett, Tom Enright, Joe Heffernan, John O’Connell, James Lynch, Jim Drew and Jack B Enright.
Thanks to their efforts, Mass has been celebrated at the shrine many times since 1954. It has been well attended by both young and old. This is a constant reminder to us of how lucky we are today to be able to celebrate the Mass and keep our faith openly without fear or threat.
The shrine is located at Kennedy’s farm on a secluded corner and is well maintained and a special Millennium Mass was held there in 1999. A local man Maurice Barrett wrote the poem “Solitude” in honour of the place.
A verse goes as follows: -
There stands the grey Mass Rock
Where the Priest in the dawning day
Blessed his devoted flock
Then went on his perilous way
Article above was wrote by Tom Aherne - Weekly Observer 05/Jan/2000
Posted on IrelandXO by:
St Kieran's Heritage Association