Wednesday 24 April 2019

Fight now begins to save Dominicans after 790 years

Hubert murphy

790 years of the Dominican Order in Drogheda has been erased 'with the stroke of a pen' according to those now battling to save the church from closure.

It was announced last Thursday that the church will close, sending shockwaves through the community.

But a determined group of volunteers have already begun the fight with a public meeting set for the Westcourt Hotel on Thursday at 8pm.

Anybody who has had links with the church down the years is asked to come and support it.

A petition has also begun and can be signed in the Dominican church mass shop and other locations.

It is planned that a group from the town will travel to Rome shortly to try and discuss the situation with Master of the Order Fr Bruno Cadore.

'We must fight for the Dominican Church as it is such a part of our history,' campaigner Rita Hanratty added.

When news broke of the proposed closure, it was like a death in the family, a loved one told it was over, that life was changing forever and there was nothing to be done. The end.

They stood huddled, in shock really, in a splendid garden that has transformed the way people see the Dominican Church, perched right beside the Boyne.

For years it was purely traditional, the Dominican (St Mary Magdalen's) was the Dominican and for those that adored it, a little bit of heaven on this mortal earth.

The past year has seen it thrive, become a vibrant, colourful place, adorned with statues in a newly-decorated garden area, where those getting married, confirmed and blessed come for photographs, a haven in a bustling world.

Last Thursday, this world of tranquility and peace, came shattering to a halt.

The decision to close the church in Drogheda was greeted with absolute dismay.

Olive Brady wished her Jim was around to write a letter to the Drogheda Independent about it. Some of Jim's letters had to pass the censor in the past, such was his love of this town and everything it stands for. his script, this time, would have been untouched.

Olive has spent 70 years, with Noeleen Gradwell, at the Dominican.

It was the place her family went to as a child, when she was 12 she joined the choir, 30 years ago she became involved in the upkeep and care of the place.

'It was like a thump in the chest just like a death when we heard it,' she admitted.

Rita Hanratty was equally as shocked. 'Young people were returning to the church, weddings are booked until 2016, there has never been such an interest in the Dominican as now.'

The recent Novena to Our Lady of Fatima almost saw the doors being closed such were the numbers attending.

The shrine to St Bernadette has attracted over 6,000 visitors since it went on display earlier this year. Schools are on the phone each day since the new term began, keen to come to see it.

Mary Clarke moved to Drogheda eight years ago from Dublin and has found the Dominican to be a beautiful place. 'I'm just devastated,' she stated.

Mena Reilly has been 23 years helping with the upkeep of the Dominican. It's part of her life.

There were plans to set up a youth choir for Christmas, but those plans are in jeopardy.

'Fr Tony has transformed the place and given it new life and we appreciate what he has done,' Olive continued. 'This cannot happen.'

There is so much history associated with the church from its opening in 1878. However the Dominican friars came to Drogheda in 1224. The workers in Donaghy's boot factory put up the shrine to St Martin.

'The Dominicans is part of Drogheda and its history. Many people regret that they didn't put up a bigger fight to save the Franciscans, but it's not too late to save the Dominican,' Rita added.

Drogheda Independent