My good friend, Breda Ferris recently took a group of us on a mini tour of Ballylongford. We visited all the places Fr. Pat Moore visited on his first day out.
I will first let you read Fr. Pat’s Caring Bridge account of his day and then I will add my photos from my excursion to the same locations.
An update from Fr Pat Moore.
Today is Wednesday!! August 25th. A Slow move out!
By Fr. Pat Moore
Yesterday was a day of difference and newness. In the morning it rained, monsoon like, as it did last night. Yesterday afternoon, the sun shone and transported us into a different world, every place dry and bright. After lunch, Debbie, Sr. Kathleen and myself ventured on a small tour. We drove up along the Shannon, into Ballylongford Creek via Killelton and stopped first at Carrigafoyle Castle. It has now become a very busy hub for tourists and locals judging from all the entries on the visitors book. The Wild Atlantic Way has made a difference. The two women took the 104 steps to the top of the Castle and later we sensed its history back until its destruction in 1583. On we journied to Ahavallin Graveyard where our family are buried. Around the ruined Church where Lord Kitchener of Karthoom was baptised we remembered so many family and neighbours among ” the unforgettable dead”. We connected through prayer with” those that had gone before us marked with the sign of faith”.
On to Lislaughtin Abbey with its sad history. There we prayed over neighbours and friends like Michael Linnane.
“Flashing starlings twist and turn in the sky above my head
While in Lislaughtin lie the packed anticipating dead.
Silent generations there that long had been the knee
Endowing the Shannon with the grace of reaching to the sea. Brendan Kennelly.
Back to Ballylongford and to St. Michael’s Church where I was ordained to priesthood in 1982. There in the grounds of the Church is the bust of our local poet. There is an extraordinary quote there, words that hung in his brothers garage for years from “The Crooked Cross”. “If the life of little places dies, greater places share the loss. Life if you wish, may not be worth one passing game of pitch and toss and yet a nation’s life is laid in places like the Crooked Cross”.
As we travelled home through the storied countryside we had travelled less than 15 kilometres, feeling into the past yet there is a great sense that the countryside is emptying out. “The silence of unlaboured fields stands like a judgement in the air”. Though we met people, moved among fields that each held a story, there is a sense of rural depopulation. Some have ” fled the fields that lied them down”, so many of a certain age have gone to work elsewhere. The changes of the past are a reminder that ” to live is to change and to change often is to become perfect” as J.H. Newman said.
This iconic window at Lislaughtin Abbey is one of the strongest symbol of Ballylongford. There are several more beautiful windows and other features here in what was once the finest Franciscan Abbey in all of Europe.
There are graves everywhere within the Abbey and in the adjoining graveyard. The big memorial above is to the O’Rahilly family.
We also visited the 5 story high Carrigafoyle Castle, an O’Connor stronghold.
Next stop Saleen pier…lovely spot. The old boat below added a touch of mystery to the place.
From peaceful Saleen we could see Lislaughtin in the distance.
This is the Moneen, a kind of mudflat that is at times submerged.
On to Ahavallen and the tomb of the reviled Sandes family
Our last stop was St. Michael’s church. The grounds of this church are beautifully maintained with sculptures and plaques recounting Ballylongford’s history. There is also a beautiful parish centre and a a little rock garden. The recently unveiled bust of Brendan Kennelly is another milestone in Ballylonford history recorded here.
Rattoo Mural at Ballyduff Post Office
Bob Scott; Artist
all photos; Bridget O’Connor
I posted one of these photos before and got no replies. I’m posting a slightly better image this time along with another photo taken in the same classroom on the same day. They’ re definitely taken in Pres. Listowel, not sure primary or secondary school. Surely someone recognizes someone or remembers the day.