| 13.6°C Dublin

'Holy tree stump' still draws pilgrims to nightly prayer vigils

A tree stump which devotees believe resembles the image of the Virgin Mary is still attracting a nightly vigil at a Co Limerick church.

Between 10 and 15 people gather in the grounds of St Mary's Church in Rathkeale every evening and recite the rosary around the wooden stump, which received global attention during the summer months.

Chairman of Rathkeale Community Council, Noel White said it had been agreed by Parish Priest, Fr Joe Dempsey to leave the stump untouched.

"He (Fr Dempsey) agreed to leave it there. It's not doing any harm and I think that is the sensible approach. Fr Dempsey did the right thing to leave it stand. It is up there for as long as it will last," Mr White said.

"The whole thing hasn't died down either. You would get 10 or 12 people there each night, faithfully saying the rosary.

"They are a core group and are up there each night. They leave rosary beads, flowers, statues and holy water around it," he added.

Visitors

"I live across the road and the odd time you would see visitors stopping off having a look at it. There is no harm in that, they are more than welcome to it," he said.

During the summer, while on a visit to trace family relatives, renowned Hollywood actor Dennis Quaid stopped off in Rathkeale and paid a visit to the 80-year-old tree stump.

"He was in the graveyard looking at headstones and went up to have a look at it. He spent a few hours here so we even had our own touch of Hollywood along with all the worldwide media attention it got," Mr White recalled.

Irish Independent