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Shanbally Church Celebrates Bi-Centennial Anniversary

Writes John Twomey

Sunday May 26th was truly a red letter day in the proud history of The Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Shanbally when its bi-centennial celebrations were led by Dr. John Buckley Bishop of Cork and Ross.

Hawthorn, whitethorn and mountain ash blossoms, together with perennial plants bursting forth with petals and flowers bringing a new transition and forsaking the last trails of Spring and Winter – it is surely May, traditionally and affectionately known as the Month of Our Lady.

Therefore it was only prudent that the people of Shanbally Church and their clergy should choose a May day to mark their bi-centennial Celebrations of 2019. Sunday May 26th was that chosen day and the two hundred year old building was filled to capacity by willing participants to celebrate and relish one of the most historic and precious days for the community. They came young and old to participate in a simple but moving ceremony organised and led by Parish Priest Rev. Fr. Sean O’Sullivan who was joined by Dr. John Buckley and Rev. Fr. Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap for the celebration of Mass. 

The homily was delivered by Fr. Silvester O’Flynn a local man who was educated in the old Shanbally National School adjoining the Church. He alluded to the long history of this little church and despite many trials and tribulations over the years including penal laws, wars and famine, it survived, thanks to the people of the community.

Sunday May 26th was truly a red letter day in the proud history of The Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Shanbally when its bi-centennial celebrations were led by Dr. John Buckley Bishop of Cork and Ross.

Hawthorn, whitethorn and mountain ash blossoms, together with perennial plants bursting forth with petals and flowers bringing a new transition and forsaking the last trails of Spring and Winter – it is surely May, traditionally and affectionately known as the Month of Our Lady. Therefore it was only prudent that the people of Shanbally Church and their clergy should choose a May day to mark their bi-centennial Celebrations of 2019. Sunday May 26thwas that chosen day and the two hundred year old building was filled to capacity by willing participants to celebrate and relish one of the most historic and precious days for the community. They came young and old to participate in a simple but moving ceremony organised and led by Parish Priest Rev. Fr. Sean O’Sullivan who was joined by Dr. John Buckley and Rev. Fr. Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap for the celebration of Mass. 

The homily was delivered by Fr. Silvester O’Flynn a local man who was educated in the old Shanbally National School adjoining the Church. He alluded to the long history of this little church and despite many trials and tribulations over the years including penal laws, wars and famine, it survived, thanks to the people of the community. The foundation and corner stones laid by the builders were to hold firm and see the Church still standing proudly two hundred years on into 2019. He added that it was for so many their first port of call when they made their initial visit for baptism and their last as they made their final journey to their place of rest. 

Without the people, we may not have the Church still in existence, as they ensured, despite the odds or circumstances, it perpetuated and survived. Therefore it was only appropriate that the laity participated in many ways in the Mass and celebrations.

The address of welcome was delivered by Pat Tuohy, representing one of the oldest families in Shanbally. Then there was the presentation of symbols narrated by Jessica Walsh. The Parish Register of Baptisms was presented at the Altar by the Sweeney family from Shanbally including four generations all baptised in the church, Gretta, Jamie, Anna, Holly and James. Members of the Confirmation Class of 2018 Molly Keane and Doireann O’Flynn presented the Parish Register of Confirmations. John & Betty Cummins from Coolmore, who were married in the Church fifty years ago presented the Parish Register of Marriages. The oil for the sick was presented by Gertie O’Driscoll and Pat McCarthy, Chairman of the Shamrock G.A.A. Club presented the Club Colours representing the community at large. The readers were Anita Emblen and John Murray and the Prayers of The Faithful were read by Mark O’Flynn, Nellie O’Leary, Benny Smyth, Lily Sue O’Brien, Muireann Crotty and John Twomey. The gifts were presented at the altar by Sacristans Pat Howard and Anita Emblen along with sisters Anne Fitzgerald and Breda O’Sullivan whose mother Joan served as a Church Sacristan for many years. 

One of the special highlights was a beautiful rendition of The hymn ‘We come to you Lord Jesus’ by the 2019 First Holy Communion class, representing the new generation and carrying the torch into the next century. 

The occasion was further dignified by the presence of a number of clergy, some of whom served in the locality in the past. Fr. Con Cronin C.C. Fr. John Galvin A.P., Fr. Des Campion C.F. Haulbowline, Fr. Richie Hurley, Fr. Eoin Murphy (whose mother was a former teacher in Ringaskiddy N.S.) Fr. Padraig O’Cuill OFM Cap from Rochestown Monastery. Honouring the occasion too was Rev. Elaine Murray representing the Church of Ireland. Ms. Violet Downey,Chairperson, represented the Parish Assembly.

The Grand Finale was a powerful rendition of that great May Hymn ‘Bring Flowers of the Rarest’ made famous by the renowned Scottish tenor Rev. Canon Sydney McEwan.The Choir, under the baton of Maria Barrett,were joined by the large attendance in a magnificent salute to The church.

Bring flowers of the rarest,

Bring blossoms the fairest,

From garden and woodland and hillside and dale,

Our full hearts are swelling,

Our glad voices telling

The praise of the loveliest flower of the vale……

There was a most enjoyable social gathering for refreshments afterwards in the adjoining Shanbally N.S. and the Marquee, where time seemed to stand still to allow the stories and yarns of yesteryear to have their airing. Thanks to all the hard working ladies all were ‘well-watered and fed’.

A colour booklet appertaining to the history of the Church and other information was produced to mark the occasion. It is on sale and a very suitable souvenir of the occasion.

Dr. Colman O’Mahony,well known Historian, produced a comprehensively researched article on the history of the Church and locality.

Olivia Walshproduced a beautiful short video on the different features and aspects of the church and it is available on You Tube. ( simply enter ‘Shanbally Church’)

Read the remainder of the edition here: http://subscriber.pagesuite-professional.co.uk/subscribe.aspx?eid=c946bff2-f434-4a7b-a75d-621998d7e750


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