UPWARDS of 10,000 people are expected to descend on Ballyheigue for the village's annual Pattern Day in a stunning indication of the growth of the event in recent years.
Taking place on Sunday, September 8, the Pattern in Ballyheigue has undergone a rival in recent decades, drawing more and more people each year. Now, it has become so big, that the local committee behind it all are rolling out a new system in a bid to ensure everyone gets communion during the 11am Mass at which Bishop od Kerry Ray Browne is to be the chief celebrant.
"We've had to divide the area of the grotto into four separate zones to ensure the Ministers of the Eucharist get to everyone as the crowds have become so large," Chairman of the Pattern Mass Committee Tom Lawlor said.
To help guide ministers and people, local Glenderry national school teacher and artist Susan Crean has divised a series of coloured flags and other signposts to help people find their designated zones.
"It's an incredible event that goes right back to the year of the Eucharistic Congress of 1932. It has been held every year since then, bar 1956 and 1999 due to inclement weather," Tom explained.
He says it is amazing how, at a time of supposed religious decline, so many people make the trip from all over the country each year:
"There's just a special draw with our grotto and the degree of testaments to the favours received are huge every year. People get great relief there from their ailments and complaints and Pattern Day just gets bigger and bigger," he said. "We had up to 12,000 last year and we're expecting the same again this year so it's vital our new plan works."
He also called for volunteers to act as stewards to help getting the Eucharistic ministers through the huge crowds at the grotto during Mass.