â€œI am delighted this glorious evening, on this historic day, in the shade of the beautiful Galtee and Knockmealdown Mountains and under the Mantle of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God , to welcome you all to the 150th Anniversary celebrations - the Sesquicentennial Celebration of the dedication of this Church of St. Maryâ€™s here in Clogheen.â€
In such words did Fr. Pat Butler, the Parish Priest of Clogheen/Burncourt introduce the 150th celebration of the Mass of Thanksgiving last Thursday evening.
It was a century and a half to the day since the then Parish Priest, Fr. John Oâ€™Gorman PP, with Bishop Dominic Oâ€™Brien of the time, celebrated the first Mass in the newly- opened church.
The church had been completed at a cost of Â£2,662, almost two-thirds of which had been donated by Irish emigrants in Australia through the then Curate Fr. William Shanahan, who had travelled there on a fundraising mission.
Concelebrating with Fr. Butler were the Diocesan Administrator, Rt. Rev. Msgr. Nicholas Oâ€™Mahony, P.P., Rt.Rev. Msgr. Jim Cashin, San Antonio, Texas, Very Rev. Wm. Canon Ryan, Dungarvan, Fr. Peter Cullen, Sheffield and Cahir, Fr. Bernard Frawley, CSSP, Rockwell College and Fr. Andre Awoa, Rome, Assisting Deacon was Rev. Shane Oâ€™Neill.
Present also were members of the Church of Ireland Clergy as well as Fr. Epiphanios and Fr. Theophilous from the Cahir Coptic Orthodox Church, Mayor of Clonmel/Cahir Municipal District Council, Martin Lonergan and Members of the Council, Seamus Healy TD, Mattie McGrath TD and a full gathering of the Faithful of the Parish of Clogheen/Burncourt and neighbouring parishes.
Hymns and Sacred music were delivered by Organist, Patrick Conlon and Choirs from Cahir Parish Church, Burncourt, Duhill, Ballyporeen, local Clogheen as well as Dungarvan Parish Choir whose predecessors sang at the dedication of the church in 1864.
Director of Choirs and Conductor was Maureen Ahearn who, it was acknowledged, had done superb work with the combined choirs and organist.
Well-known singer Trudi Lawlor led local schoolchildren in her gospel song â€˜Thank Youâ€™.
In his homily, Fr. Butler recalled the rich Christian history of the parish from St. Cathaldus, Abbot of Shanrahan in the 7th Century to Fr. Sheehy in the 18th Century who was martyred for his faith and to the priests and people who had given such a noble church to the parish as their permanent place of worship.
He also recalled the black days of Cromwellian times and the massacres and suffering which had been visited on the people.
However, he said, this is a glorious moment in the life of our parish as we gather to give glory and thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ and honour to our Patroness, Mary the Mother of God.
Fr. Butler thanked the many people who had worked so diligently on the Sesquicentennial celebrations and all those who had contributed to the preparations for the wonderful occasion and who had enhanced it by their presence.
Refreshments were then served outdoors in the beautiful autumn evening as people reflected on the great history and tradition of their parish and the symbolic and moving anniversary celebrations of which they had played a part.