St Stephen's Mass remembers Fr Stack and the Grotto Meitheal

Some of the surviving 1996 Grotto Meitheal pictured with organiser, Eilish Conway after the mass in St. Stephen’s Park on Monday evening. Included are; Mikey Conway, Franko Moriarty, John and Eilish Conway, Johnny Foran and Denny Flynn. Photo by John Reidy
Some of the surviving 1996 Grotto Meitheal pictured with organiser, Eilish Conway after the mass in St. Stephen’s Park on Monday evening. Included are; Mikey Conway, Franko Moriarty, John and Eilish Conway, Johnny Foran and Denny Flynn. Photo by John Reidy

John Reidy's Castleisland

It was because of his deep and genuine friendship with the people of St Stephen's Park that a Mass was celebrated for the late Fr Willie Stack at 7pm on Monday evening in ideal conditions.

Fr Stack served in Castleisland for a six year term from 1994. His association and bond with the Castleisland estate began in tragic circumstances back in June 1995.

Then he was called upon to administer the last rights to the late Michael 'Tappy' Conway who died as a result of an accident in the estate.

It was at Fr Stack's prompting that a plan was put in place for some kind of memorial to be put in place or erected within the confines of the estate.

After some discussion it was decided to build the grotto and gifted, local stonemason, Johnny Foran, offered his considerable services to the project planners.

Tadhg McGillicuddy came up with the plans so in keeping with the nearby remains of St. Stephen's Church - now the Ivy Leaf Art Centre.

A meitheal surrounded the building project and the plan was underway with Johnny Foran directing the operation and Fr Stack blessing, encouraging and visiting every day.

With history in mind the project members and invited members of the neighbourhood compiled the contents of a 'Time Capsule' which, it was agreed, would remain buried there for a century.

Sharing the honours of the mass with Fr Stack on Monday evening were the deceased members of the meitheal and the survivors.

"It was a very special time to all of us involved in the building of the grotto. Those of us not involved in the building directly fed those who were - and we'll always remember the support we got from Fr Willie Stack at the time," said chief organiser, Eilish Conway.

Eilish made a presentation of a special candle to all survivors involved or to the relatives or representatives of all who helped in any way back in 1996.

The Mass was celebrated by Monsignor Dan O'Riordan in one of the last outdoor events of his eleven year tenure in the Castleisland parish.

Neighbours in the estate were joined by people from many parts of the town and district along with Fr Stack's brother, Tom and his wife Maura and Fr. Tim Galvin - a fellow Kiltegan missioner.

The PA system was provided on the occasion by the ubiquitous, Cllr Charlie Farrelly,

Monsignor O'Riordan is due to retire after he celebrates the vigil mass at the Church of Saints Stephen and John tomorrow, Saturday evening at 6:15pm.

Kerryman

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