Three hundred pilgrims attend dawn Mass at famed Derrynaflan monastic site

The world famous monastic site in Derrynaflan was a kaleidoscope of colour for the celebration of dawn Mass on Easter Sunday.

The world famous monastic site in Derrynaflan was a kaleidoscope of colour for the celebration of dawn Mass on Easter Sunday.

The island in the bog of Lurgoe, famous for the discovery of the Derrynaflan Chalice, was en fete for the annual celebration which was attended by over 300 pilgrims, many travelling long distances to participate in the religious ceremonies. The combination of floodlights, the rising sun and pilgrims dressed in a variety of colours, gave rise to a stunning and very fitting scene for the special event.

Derrynaflan monastery is situated in the parish of Killenaule-Moyglass and Parish Priest Canon Liam Ryan has been celebrating Mass on the island, also known as the Goban Saor, for over a decade. He was joined for this year’s concelebrated Mass by Fr George Bourke, Parish Priest of Moycarkey-Borris, and Fr Gerry Horan, Provincial of the Augustinian Order.

Weather conditions were more than favourable for the 6am celebration that included the lighting and blessing of the Paschal fire, the blessing and sprinkling of Easter water, and the renewal of baptismal vows. Fr Horan delivered a beautiful homily during the celebration of Mass. Another special feature of the ceremony was the musical contribution of Scoil Ruain, Killenaule students.

Under the direction of Ms Siobhan Hall, Director of Music in Scoil Ruain, the group of students gave a memorable performance and were the recipients of lavish praise from the large congregation. The group comprised singers Grace Fanning, Jonathon Hickey, and Keith Hickey, guitarists Sean Bermingham and Kieran Murphy, and drummer Shane O’Connell.

Many pilgrims in the congregation had attended the annual dawn ceremony since the first Mass celebrated on the island well over ten years ago. The celebration of the first Mass attracted considerable media coverage and public acclaimation, and as a result many other communities all over the country have followed the example set by Killenaule-Moyglass parish. A number of similar religious celebrations were held in many parts of Ireland at dawn on Easter Sunday.

Canon Liam Ryan expressed himself “delighted” with the turnout in Derrynaflan on Easter Sunday. “People have been coming here to celebrate Easter year after year. They love to come here at dawn and celebrate Mass at this very special time of year. We were delighted to have among us Fr Bourke and Fr Horan, we appreciate their presence and indeed the participation of so many people in the beautiful ceremony. Derrynaflan looked magnificent under the lights kindly provided by our good friend Dick Boland, and what a spectacular scene the island provides at daybreak.” Canon Liam said.

Canon Liam extended his gratitude to the very many people who helped in the organisation and celebration of the ceremony and paid a very special tribute to readers at the ceremony Kathleen Cormack, Niall and Cathal Bergin, Scoil Ruain singers and musicians, Pat Holohan for providing acoustics, Tyrone Walker and FAS staff, Eoin Ryan for providing the canopy for the celebration, Joe O’Sullivan for the provision of public transport, the Courtney family of Derrynaflan, and Tom Egan and staff of Horse and Jockey Hotel. “We are very grateful to all for their support and kindness” Canon Ryan said.

To mark his first visit to Derrynaflan, Fr Horan was the recipient of a picture of the island taken at sunrise. He spoke of his delight at participating in the ceremony on one of Ireland’s most famous historic sites and extended his thanks to Canon Ryan and the parish of Killenaule-Moyglass for the very special gift.