independent

Friday 18 April 2014

First Mass in 300 years at newly rediscovered rock

AS the Gathering Festival gained momentum last weekend throughout the country, it was marked in Lismire with a most unique and memorable event when Mass was celebrated at a recently discovered 'Mass rock' in Priory Wood.

AS the Gathering Festival gained momentum last weekend throughout the country, it was marked in Lismire with a most unique and memorable event when Mass was celebrated at a recently discovered 'Mass rock' in Priory Wood.

Over 80 people were present and history was made at the rock as the first Mass in an estimated 300 year period was celebrated by Canon Jackie Corkery and Fr Brian Boyle.

Corkman columnist Sheila Kearney explained that locals had always been aware that such a rock existed in the vicinity of a trench named 'Clais an Aifrinn' beside the river.

However, a few weeks ago serious attempts were made to find it when local people undertook an in-depth search of the area and, having located the stone, cleared the area of briars and brambles.

Although the rock can be accessed via a picturesque walkway of 1.6km through Stannard's Glen, those of us looking for a quick fix clambered down the alternative route with the aid of a strong rope and a measure of courage.

Fr Boyle, in his opening address, remarked on the bravery and dedication of the people who went to such efforts to attend Mass during the Penal times (late 1600s to mid 1700s), when under British law Catholics were prohibited from practicing their religion.

In Lismire, history tells us that locals would gather by this Mass rock in the glen at irregular intervals and the time of the Mass would be passed around by word of mouth.

Many parishioners would have approached the rock by walking on the river bed to avoid leaving footprints. Lookouts were posted around the area to warn of approaching soldiers as the priest would face execution if caught.

Priest hunters would get a fee of up to £20 for revealing a priest, while there was a reward of £100 for a bishop.

Mass rocks like this new treasure in Priory Wood were in use until the middle of the 18th century when laws were relaxed.

Lismire parishioners then attended mass at designated houses prior to the building of their local church.

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