Wednesday 14 November 2018

BBC to pay homage to the moving statues phenomenon

SINEAD GRENNAN

THE time when Ireland stood still and its statues moved will be remembered in a new BBC documentary examining the global phenomenon of moving statues.

The tiny Co Cork village of Ballinspittle is one of five locations throughout the world to be featured in a documentary called Miracle Statues.

Programme-makers spent two days in Ballinspittle earlier this month, interviewing local people and taking footage of the statue of Our Lady in the village grotto. The team also interviewed Cork sculptor Maurice O'Donnell, who made the statue in the 1950s.

John Murray, chairman of the Grotto Committee, who was the subject of an hour-long interview, said the programme makers "wanted an account of what we saw and felt happened at the time and they would put forward the opposing side from scientists".

He said the people of Ballinspittle simply told their story and would let the viewers make up their own minds.

A serving sergeant in Cork city at the time, Mr Murray saw the statue move two days after the first report in July 1985. He was among a crowd of several hundred people saying prayers and singing hymns in front of the grotto when "suddenly, without warning, there was a gasp from the crowd" as the statue, which is embedded in concrete, appeared to be airborne for half a minute.

"I was so convinced it was a fraud that I climbed up into the grotto the next morning and tried to shake the statue, but it wouldn't budge. I checked the back, the sides of it for any trip wires, but I couldn't find anything."

Thousands of people flocked to Ballinspittle in the summer of 1985 to witness the moving statue for themselves.

Although the statue hasn't been seen moving since, it still attracts a steady flow of visitors every year, particularly in the summer months. A BBC spokeswoman said Miracle Statues is in the early days of production and it was too early to say when the programme would be broadcast.

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