Published 15/05/2013 | 05:36
IF ever you needed proof of a community pulling together then Ardfert National School was the place to be on Saturday evening when almost 500 locals, young and old, donned habits and robes for the school's 'Monk Day' world record attempt.
From four-week-old Anto Lyne, who came in the appropriate religious attire to support his uncle John Martin Lyne, who is the school caretaker, to an 86 year old man who came from neighbouring Kilmoyley to add his support to the school fundraiser, the party atmosphere was electric throughout the afternoon.
Because no previous record existed for the number of 'monks' in one location, organisers had to exceed 250 to make it into the Guinness Book of Records. And thanks to the incredible support of locals, visitors and even a busload of almost 60 people who travelled from Listowel, the record was smashed, with 463 people officially being counted.
As well as over 220 pupils who came in their robes, parents and other locals gathered at the school from about 5pm, with the official count taking place an hour later.
"We were absolutely blown away by the support we received. We had two people from Colorado who heard about the event in Dingle and came over, while a local family, the O'Mahonys who live in London, also made the journey," school principal, Betty Stack said.
"The entire school and their families got involved and we had a busload from Listowel, who were involved in last year's Nunday and came to support us. It was a fantastic occasion."
Instrumental to the success of the day was deputy principal Ann Kearney, who along with Linda McElligott and a number of staff members, made 220 robes for the pupils. Community stalwart Joe Wallace also came in for great praise, having decorated the school with bunting and banners which added to the fun atmosphere.
As well as raising thousands of euro for the local national school, Saturday's Monk Day also acted as a public display of respect for St Brendan, Mrs Stack explained. St Brendan the Navigator was born in nearby Fenit and the 13th century medieval Cathedral at Ardfert, now a National Monument site, was built on this 6th century monastic foundation.