The rain held off just long enough for the Johnstown community to come together recently to celebrate the 50th anniversary of St. David's Church.
Festivities kicked off with a special mass, which was celebrated by Vicar General, Fr Donal Roche. He paid tribute to a number of priests who have served in the parish over the years, many of whom were in attendance.
A presentation was also made to the guest of honour on the day, former parish priest Fr John Piert.
He had previously served as parish priest in Castletown, across the border in Wexford, and then in Wicklow town in the 1990s until health problems forced him to step down as parish priest. A vacancy existed in Johnstown and, after a six month sabbatical, Fr. Piert arrived at St David’s in 1998.
Also honoured on the day were 90 year-old Rita Canavan who has supported Fr Piert over the past 30 years, as well as Elizabeth Power, the current sacristan at the church.
Parishioner and organising committee member, Fiadhnait ní Lionain said, “In a rural area like ours the church everything. It’s your baptisms, your weddings, your funerals. Everyone who attended the anniversary had some connection to the church through some big event in their lives.
“For some people, the anniversary was one of the first times they’ve really re-engaged with their parish after Covid,” she continued. “In many ways, last weekend was as much a celebration for the parish and the community as it was for the church and the people that maintain it.
“The hope is that we now build on that, as a community.”
After the celebration mass the 180-200 people in attendance enjoyed refreshments and live music.
Entertainment on the day was provided by the Arklow Silver Band, who also performed at the opening of the church 50 years ago.
In what was their first proper public event since lockdown, the 25 players, who range in age from 10-68 years-old, delighted the crowd with a selection of light and easy listening arrangements.
“It was a great event, we were so glad the rain held off,” said band conductor Stephen Smith. “It was nice to get playing again in public after Covid and to give the younger members, who had been learning during lock down, a chance to play in public with the main band.”
“It gave us some much needed practice, as we look ahead to our busy Christmas schedule.”