Fr Drury (92) celebrates 67th Christmas Eve mass
A Cavan priest is to celebrate his 67th consecutive annual midnight Christmas Eve mass tonight.
Mullagh native Fr Ronan Drury (92), who is based in Maynooth, spends every Christmas back in his hometown.
Ordained in 1949, he is due to celebrate his 67th consecutive annual midnight mass in St Killian's tonight.
While Fr Drury does not recognise some of the young people in the area nowadays, he says he can see their grandparents in their eyes as he gives them communion.
The priest said "the whole midnight mass has a strong emotional element" for him.
"The scene, the full church, the great choir, the good crib, the lively decoration, the whole friendliness everywhere... As I am giving communion at midnight mass, I know that I don't recognise all the people coming up but I recognise them out of their parents," he told radio station Northern Sound.
"I can see their grandfathers look in the child's eye as they are coming up for communion.
"It is a very rich experience."
Winifred Anderson (102), also from Mullagh, remembers Fr Drury's first midnight mass 67 years ago.
"He was always passionate about the mass and to this day, he still opens his ceremony with the words 'my dear people'," she said.
Local Cllr and funeral director Shane P O'Reilly described Fr Drury as a humble man whom he remembers with great fondness.
"I served with him as an altar server, he was always a very kind man, generous to the children and all the people of the parish," he said.
"He captures the spirit of Christmas in his life and every midnight mass".
Fr Drury is editor of a monthly journal for the contemporary church called 'The Furrow'.