History was repeated on Friday 1st July 2016 when over 200 of our local parishioners, retraced the steps that many of our ancestors took over four centuries ago. This time there was no soldiers, constabulary or objectors barring the way, just a couple of hills to negotiate. The journey to the Mass Rock, on the top of Drumilly Mountain, was revisited after almost 15 years, the last time being on Sunday September 2nd 2001. The crowds slowly gathered at the Mountain House, and with P.J. Boyle local Piper, leading the way, Fr Malachy Murphy PP and Cardinal Sean Brady ahead of the procession, all left for the re-visitation of our past heritage.
The Holy Rosary was recited for most of the journey, children and adults made the short but trying journey up the Lislea Road, to the Drumilly Road, and across a number of fields to where the Mass Rock is situated, the elderly and incapable of walking went by bus provided by the Parish.
But if anyone during the walk, rolled their imagination back to what it must have been for our ancestors. Those were the Penal days, when the government prohibited the practicing of our Catholic faith, and anyone doing so would at least be jailed, Priests more than likely put to death. Those were difficult times, dangerous times, but it didn’t stop the People or the Priests from practicing their faith in God.
Whenever a Priest came to say Mass at the Mass Rock in that day, guards were always there to warn of the forthcoming soldiers and constabulary, and the Man of God was ferried away. On many occasions Priests were caught, but although the times were fraught with danger, the faith of our forefathers stayed strong by those that put their lives on the line, and for them we owe a depth of gratitude that can’t be measured by time.
It is only right that those People, should be remembered by this walk to our Mass Rock.
As his eminence Cardinal Sean, stressed in his homily, this was a time of reflection on our faith and what we expect from it, those men of the past centuries just wanted the one thing, and that was to worship their God, and they did so.
It is believed that Blessed Oliver Plunkett, who was betrayed and handed over to the crown forces, through false testimony of many of his own flock, did celebrate Mass here at the Rock, it is not for certain that he did, or did not, it is true however that he was in the area many times when on the run, as close as Dundalk, so it is quite possible that maybe he did. Legend says so, who are we to disagree with legend.
Afterwards, when everyone made their way down from the Mass Rock, there was a reception in the Mountain house, sandwiches, pastry and refreshments being the order of the day.
This wonderful Liturgical Event, which we have been reliable informed will continue is a testimony to the excellent work of Our Pastoral Council and Parish Priest Fr Murphy.