A delegation of three, Fr. Martin Crean OSA, Prior of the Augustinian Abbey, Fethard, Gus Fitzgerald and Liam Cloonan, travelled to Dublin on Thursday, July 5, and visited two museums holding important liturgical items from the Augustinian Abbey. Their main objective was to view the statue of Our Lady of Fethard. The statue is of oak and measures 67 centimetres in height. It is carved in the round and consists of a standing figure of Blessed Virgin Mother supporting the child Jesus on her left hand.
From the fine skirt of the Mother and the tunic worn by the Child, it is estimated to be of Flemish origin and dated 17th Century. The statue was venerated in the Abbey. Then, as Cromwell and his soldiers were coming to town, the statue was hidden in the secret tunnel going from the Abbey to the Holy Trinity Church of Ireland, dated 1208. It was only found in the tunnel around 1900 and for seventy years it was again venerated in the Abbey Church.
In the early 1970s the then Prior, Fr. Anthony Leddin OSA, sent the statue to the National Museum in Dublin to assess the origin and age. There it continues to rest – out of sight of the public – not on display.
In a letter from Raghnall Ó Floinn, Head of Collections, National Museum, he referred to another item that may be of interest to me and that they recently acquired, a chalice from the Augustinian Abbey, Fethard, commissioned by Edward Sauce in 1623, and which also bears the name of Fr. David O’Meagher and the date 1671. This is on display in the reserve collection of silver in the ‘What’s in Store Gallery’ in Collins Barracks. It has a very distinctive identity mark on the base, a small cross with the unusual Christ crucified.
Another item of interest we came across in the Franciscan Faith Room in Collins Barracks was a small monstrance (used for exposition of Blessed Sacrament). This was converted from a chalice in 17th Century. Its roots were also from The Abbey, Fethard.
Fr. Martin Crean OSA