The abbot explained that he could not allow it. It was just not possible, he said, to visit his monastery in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.
All 30 monks at Glenstal Abbey have cut themselves off from the outside world in the hope of keeping Covid-19 outside the battlements of their Norman-style castle in Co Limerick.
Easter is the busiest time of the year at Glenstal: hundreds of people arrive for the Holy Week ceremonies.
But not this year.
Only the Benedictine monks themselves, priests and brothers, are now living inside the monastery. All students boarding in the abbey school have been sent home.
"Our situation is weird in that it is just ourselves here in the house," said Abbot Brendan Coffey speaking by phone last week.
"It is impossible for monks aged over 70 to cocoon away from their younger colleagues within the confines of the monastery," he said.
The monks took advice from the health authorities, who designated the entire monastery as a single "social unit".
And so they cut themselves off, with no visitors allowed. Only a couple of essential care staff are allowed to come and go.
The hustle and bustle of the normally busy institution has faded away, but this isolation is like no other in Ireland.
The abbey is nestled in a scenic valley on hundreds of acres which include glorious woodland walks.
Although the monks live their lives based on ancient rules set down by Saint Benedict in 516 AD, they are using webcams to beat the virus blockade and stream their Easter ceremonies to people throughout Ireland and the world.
We asked if it might be possible to talk to the abbot and other monks by video link.
Twenty-four hours later, the video call was set up between this reporter, working from home, and four monks: Abbot Coffey, school headmaster Fr Martin Browne, French teacher Fr John O'Callaghan, and Brother Padraig McIntyre, who oversees hospitality for all visitors. What about a photograph, we wondered?
"That would be fine," said the abbot. "Our Fr Dennis is a keen photographer and has all sorts of equipment. I'm sure he could take whatever photos you need." And he did, to splendid effect.
The monks were in separate locations in the monastery for the video call, but a glitch forced Br Padraig to abandon his computer and hurry to share Fr Browne's.
Abbot Coffey said the virus pandemic has caused fear among people everywhere. The monastery had a number of monks aged in their 70s, 80s and 90s who were particularly vulnerable.
The abbey's oldest monk, Fr Placid Murray, who joined in 1937, lived the first two years of his life during the world's deadliest pandemic when Spanish flu killed tens of millions between 1918 and 1920.
"Father Placid is 101, going on 102. He is very well and he is better on the computer than any of us. He has the computer set up in his nursing home near us," the abbot said with a smile.
Life inside the monastery continues, with all monks going to Mass together and to the refectory while maintaining social distancing.
A webcam had been running permanently in the church for more than three years. It streamed Masses and all occasions when monks gathered to pray and chant.
But now chanted prayer events are no longer streamed online; the monks are not grouped together and so their chants cannot be recorded satisfactorily.
Masses, though, continue to be streamed at 12.10pm on weekdays and 10am on Sundays.
"Easter this year is certainly different," the abbot said.
"Usually 120 come here as residents for the Easter ceremonies. There are others who come, too. Now there is nobody at all, only ourselves."
Health restrictions prevented the washing of feet ceremony during Holy Thursday Mass.
And the veneration of the cross on Good Friday, where the cross is kissed, could not go ahead.
But the numbers of people around the world clicking on to the Glenstal webcam for Masses has "sky-rocketed".
About 1,500 people viewed Sunday Mass at the abbey recently but a week ago the figure jumped to 11,676.
They watched from all over Ireland, the UK, Argentina, Hong Kong, India, Canada, Brazil, Tanzania, Romania and many more countries.
The monks felt lucky to be allowed remain together as a unit.
"But of course," said the abbot, "depending how long it goes on for, we might start to drive each other up the walls."
Many people around the world had convinced themselves that mankind could deal with any situation with modern medicine, he said, "but that's just not true".
He did not know if people might return to prayers and religious observance because of global fear of the virus.
"One's relationship with God has to be something that is based on love rather than fear.
"Unless there is love, once the crisis passes and there is no more fear, people will simply go back to doing what they did before
"One thing people are discovering is there is a part of the human person, the spiritual part, that needs nourishment, just the same as all the other parts.
"When you are forced to stop and do nothing in this crisis, you can't but ask yourself some questions."
Abbot Brendan said it was now "time to reflect that God, in the person of Jesus, chose to enter this world, to become part of it, to share our experience of what it was to be a human being. In doing that he also shared what it is to suffer.
"When Christ came into the world, he 'washed our feet' - in everything he said, in everything he did - by his death on the cross.
"He spent his life doing this. And when you look around today, we see in this crisis there are lots of people doing the same thing.
"So, in particular, the people in the medical profession, the frontline services, are doing that.
"And it's not something that happens without a good deal of personal risk on their part because there is no cure for this virus at this time.
"So if they get sick they are really endangering their own lives, but yet they go about their work.
"That work now is 'washing the feet' of their brothers and sisters, whom they don't know from Adam. So this is what the Paschal mystery at Easter is," he said.
"The whole point is if we can live our lives, all of us, more in this vein, then the whole world will be a much better place.
"The message for us is: learn something from this crisis. Don't just make all the same mistakes again. But let the world that we re-create be a much better one."
"The crisis has brought out the best in many people around the world," said Fr O'Callaghan.
"Human beings have proven we have the capacity to change. And to live at a better level.
"So, believe it or not, this crisis has shown us we have a fundamental goodness, a potential for goodness, a potential for surviving an onslaught together if we pull together."
Fr Browne said huge numbers watching the Glenstal webcam feed showed a lot of people were praying during the current crisis.
"There are a lot of people spending their time sitting at home and praying with others online.
"That's something we would have considered a little bit odd a couple of years ago, or even a couple of months ago.
"It's a developing phenomenon."
Brother Padraig said he would normally be spending Easter frenetically busy seeing to the needs of guests, but that could wait for another year.
"This virus has asked us to put our individual lives secondary to the life of the community, so that the community will survive.
"It is actually very fundamental to the monastic life that we thrive and we grow - not individually, but within the community."
He will miss his Easter guests, of course, but there are upsides to life in isolation too.
"At the moment, I have bread waiting to go into the oven and I don't have to worry about running someplace else.
"For me these days are busy, but they are calm."