'Because the Blessed Virgin always would wait until just after bingo to put on her Vogue' - the nation was mortified by Moving Statues
RTE documentary charted the mass hysteria of 1985
RTE's documentary about the phenomenon of moving religious statues which gripped the nation in 1985 entralled, delighted, and horrified viewers on Monday night.
Moving Statues - The Summer of 1985 charted the few months in 1985 when children and adults from over 30 locations from Ballinspittle to Stradbally believed they saw religious statues move.
Hundreds of thousands of people gathered at grottos across the country in the belief that they would witness the phenomenon themselves.
The moving statues viewed through the prism of Twitter thirty-four years later is as interesting as the phenomenon itself, and perhaps just as telling about where we are as a society today.
Those who lived through the hysteria recalled that time:
The mammy was out shopping, one day during the moving statue epidemic. Passing a church, a woman she knew came rushing out, all a twitter . She called to the mammy. "Lily. Lily, the statue of St Anthony is moving!" "RUN" shouts the mammy, "He's after your purse" #movingstatues— Sister Unicorn Bonjela (@sisterbonjela) April 15, 2019
#MovingStatues after my inter I went to Ballinaspittle mainly to mock my mother. (There were daily buses from O'Connell Street) she saw nothing and I saw statue move and change to St Theresa of the little Flower!— Alan Kinsella (@electionlit) April 15, 2019
#MovingStatues holy mary & Joseph ! I am mortified all over again ! @RTEOne these three wtf? I drove out to Spiddal in Connemara once to see what all the fuss was about ! I know pic.twitter.com/0zRMQxTQ8T— Derek J Collins 高德偉 ☘️ (@dcollinshk) April 15, 2019
I was working in Coolock Library during the hysteria that gripped the nation in the 1980s. One day a dazzled old man came in to ask for directions. He had traveled from Cavan because he had heard about Jesus appearing in a knot of wood in a wardrobe in Darndale. #MovingStatues— Marty ‘Buster’ Budden (@zozimus) April 16, 2019
What a summer it was. Vivid memories of travelling south in the back of a Mini Metro, all in the hope of seeing those statues move. Quite how it gripped the nation is hard to explain #movingstatues— Fran McNulty (@franmcnulty) April 15, 2019
I remember distinctly as a child during this era keeping an eye out during mass for statues moving 😂#movingstatues— Elaine Larkin (@elainelarkin) April 15, 2019
Most viewers were 'mortified' of what they perceived to be the nation's collective naivity in the 1980s, while others of course took the opportunity to take the proverbial...
I believed the hype about #MovingStatues back in 1985 but I was in primary school . I'm scarlet for the rest of ye— Bernie Bradley (@BoarnieB) April 15, 2019
This could be easily mistaken for an episode of Bridget & Eamonn. 😂 #movingstatues— Ashleigh Trait (@asht19) April 15, 2019
Watching this #MovingStatues programme and am beyond mortified on behalf of all of us. Christ Ireland in the 80s was like a different planet— Billy Passmore (@billypassmore) April 15, 2019
The power of suggestion is a powerful thing... but what normal person goes for a drive to a religious grotto at midnight? #MovingStatues— Paul McClean (@paulmcclean) April 15, 2019
Because the Blessed Virgin always would wait until just after bingo to put on her Vogue. #MovingStatues— Philip Nolan (@philipnolan1) April 15, 2019
'— Pound4Pound (@Pound4Poundie) April 15, 2019
The #movingstatues never stopped.
This was filmed a while ago from the Maldron Hotel in Tallaght, near enough the Square. During #StormEmma.#OurLady #Holywater #Cblive#notredame #ireland #rteinvestigates #liveline pic.twitter.com/YWuiOAynxS
A man in the pub told me that they used to leave the lights on in the chapels all over Ireland in ‘85 as the statues were bumping into each other #movingstatues— Dessie McKenzie (@dessie_mckenzie) April 15, 2019
Oh no. The BBC had it. Dying. #movingstatues— BFog (@Fogdappy) April 15, 2019
The programme revealed how some rural parts of Kerry, Cork, Kildare and other areas of Ireland benefitted from the attention the statues brought to their area.
Entrepreneurs took advantage of the influx of crowds with chip vans and 'grotto burgers'.
An unfortunate consequence of huge gatherings in small locations was, unsurprisingly, blocked toilets. Cork County Council installed public toilets and phone boxes to alleviate the pressure on local businesses and local councillors applied for a £650,000 grant to improve the roads.
Blocked jacks on #movingstatues must have been all them Grotto Burgers— Ciaran Finn (@dundrum) April 15, 2019
If you didn’t serve a Grotto burger between 2 huge pieces of holy communion wafer then what was the point??!#MovingStatues— Jamie (@FCTwenteBenson) April 15, 2019
Oh God! I’m sorry, but #MovingStatues is bloody hilarious.— Carole (Ducky) (@IrPsych) April 15, 2019
The devout - fair enough (each to their own & all that), but surrounded by chip vans, Grotto Burgers, cute hoor councillors on the scrounge ... 😂😂😂
There were other take-aways from the programme, not least that the music of that era was exceptional, and the fashion perhaps less so...
Love the juxtaposition of the brilliant soundtrack of 1985 - what a year it was for music - and the madness around the #movingstatues— Ronan McGreevy (@RMcGreevy1301) April 15, 2019
The #movingstatues docu does highlight a disturbing insight: how tragic 1985 fashion was.— Sinead Ryan (@sinead_ryan) April 15, 2019
While most people on social media are skeptical, there are still some believers. A miracle and divine intervention? Perhaps. Some people certainly believe so and many of those who claimed to have seen the statues move back in 1985 stood by their visions on the programme today.
I firmly believe that the people of 1985 saw the Blessed Virgin Mary appear. Who are we to day she didn't? In many cases numerous people on any given day saw her. We must respect the gift they were given to witness our lady. #movingstatues— Patrick Donovan (@Paddy_Donovan) April 16, 2019
Others felt more unsettled by the programme than amused when considering the context of the events.
#movingstatues is a great aide-memoire to the laughable nativity of Ireland of the 1980s.— Keith Mills (@KeithMillsD7) April 15, 2019
It might be amusing now but it was this voodoo-faith nonsense that was used to isolate gay people, single mothers and anyone who dared to not conform to Catholic religious doctrine. https://t.co/SioGUNgvPN
You can watch Moving Statues - The Summer of 1985 is available to watch on the RTE Player.