Crowds Flock To Castleisland’s First Easter Sunday Dawn Mass

Members of the congregation facing the paschal fire at Castleisland’s first Easter Sunday Dawn Mass at St. John’s Graveyard. Photograph: John Reidy

Castleisland’s first Easter Sunday Dawn Mass was welcomed by the huge crowd which congregated at St. John’s Graveyard before the break of the special day.

The weather was less than welcoming but it could have been worse – as was promised / threatened in the forecasts on Saturday night.

Varying degrees of soft rain fell straight down without the cold or driving wind of the warnings we had got and a well prepared congregation, estimated to be in the hundreds, was grateful for that much.

Widely Expressed Delight

There was also a widely expressed delight at being able to meet and mix again after the blight of the last couple of years.

Parish Priest, Fr. Mossie Brick got the ceremony under way at the appointed 6am with ‘we’ll make hay while the sun shines’ and he did so accompanied by local musicians: Art O’Mahony, Anne and Nicky McAuliffe, Con Moynihan and Joan Brosnan through the sound system provided and set up by Cllr. Charlie Farrelly.

Darkness of Sunday Morning

In the darkness of Sunday morning a stream of people left the town on foot for the mile or so walk to St. John’s from 5am onwards.

Many of them were retracing a journey they’d made over the years behind Tangney’s hearse while conveying a loved one to their final resting place there.

Motorists were well directed at all turning points and parking areas by a team of volunteers from all areas of the parish who answered the call put out a few weeks ago.

There were people in attendance from Lixnaw and Tralee and many other places where Fr. Brick had previously served.

Standing Beside Family Graves

During the ceremony, people stood in groups beside family graves and this was acknowledged by Fr. Brick. He said that there were people here in floods of tears at the graves of loved ones while trying to come to terms with their sense of loss.

The traditional sod of turf on a pike was set alight by parish clerk, Noreen O’Sullivan and conveyed to the site of the paschal fire by Dan O’Donoghue where he handed it over to fellow Cordal man John Flaherty and he set a carefully selected collection of materials alight in a barrel on a section of scaffolding. The almost clear smoke went straight up in the still of the early morning.

Contemplating the Easter Message

The congregation was then invited by Fr, Brick to face the fire and contemplate the message of Easter – the proclamation of the light of the resurrection and the hope and the promise it brings.

The Easter Dawn Mass in Castleisland has been an outstanding success for Fr. Brick and his team and for how he draws people to him and around him on occasions like this.

Next Easter the Dawn Mass will move, with alphabetical order, to Cordal and then to Scartaglen on the following year.

Fantastic Level of Volunteerism

Castleisland Parish Council Chairman, Jack Shanahan said that Fr. Brick put his stamp on the parish with this first Dawn Mass and in the makings of a very special event in the area.

“Every parish priest we’ve had made various contributions to the area and Fr. Brick is certainly doing so with events like this.

“A lot of work went into this first Dawn Mass in Castleisland and there were so many people involved.

“The level of volunteerism was fantastic. The musicians with Charlie Farrelly’s sound system and the traffic plan and diversions that were put in place on the morning all worked as they were meant to,” said Mr. Shanahan.

A Great Way About Him

“The people I spoke to there were delighted with the opportunity to be there and they spoke of how special a Mass in a graveyard is.

“There are so many people who put in such an effort and John Flaherty’s contribution with the eco-friendly Easter fire has to be mentioned.

“Fr. Brick has a great way about him and he has started something very special here. We had the crowd, the atmosphere and community spirit even if we didn’t have the dancing sun.

“It’s the first of many – we hope – and it will move to Cordal next year and Scartaglen after that,” said Jack.

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