IN scenes not witnessed in decades, thousands poured into Ballyheigue on Saturday as Pattern Day 2012 caught the public imagination in stunning weather.
It was the perfect end to the summer for the seaside village, coming in tandem with the publication of a book on the Christian heritage of Ballyheigue as a perfect example of how relevant the faith remains in the area.
Locals were stunned by the massive influx, which held up the Mass - celebrated by Bishop of Kerry Bill Murphy - by fifteen minutes or so as the cars kept coming.
"I've been in business in Ballyheigue for 37 years and I've never seen anything like it," hotelier Jimmy Browne told The Kerryman. "I stood outside the White Sands at 12.30 and it was like a river of people coming up the village from the cross. It was incredible."
Parish Priest Fr Tom Leane was delighted with the response. "We knew it was going to be big as it fell on a Saturday this year, but it exceeded our expectations. It was the biggest Pattern ever in Ballyheigue, many said. The day was perfect and the only thing was that we had to hold up the Mass by fifteen minutes or so with the traffic coming in.
Luckily, the businesses of Ballyheigue were prepared for the onslaught of such a huge crowd given that the Pattern fell on a Saturday. "We were all prepared and had extra staff because we knew it was going to be big," Jimmy Browne said.
"I've noticed that in the last five or six years the Pattern is getting bigger and bigger anyway and I think it's a testament to the work of the organisers who have great facilities in place for the day," Mr Browne added.