An invitation was received from the people of Benada to celebrate with them the blessing of the newly renovated graveyard and statue of Our Lady on Sunday 19th May, 2019. Sr. Clare Neylan and I set off and, after a four hour journey, arrived in Benada Abbey where we were welcomed by Mr. Sean Ownes who was instrumental in arranging the day’s celebrations.
The invitation to Benada had also gone to the Augustinians who, like the Sisters of Charity, were closely associated with the Abbey. They had been there since 1423 and had served the people until the suppression of the monasteries by King Henry V111 of England in 1536/41. The monks returned to continue their work only to be suppressed again by Oliver Cromwell in the 1650’s. An Augustinian priest, Fr. Kelly from Limerick came to celebrate the Mass and he was joined by local priests from Tubbercurry, Fr. Jenkins p.p. and Fr. John Glynn p.p. of Kilmactigue.
Music was provided by a past pupil, Ignatius Henry and his daughter.
Fr. Kelly gave a short history of the Augustinians and the Sisters of Charity and the work they did in the locality. After Mass the blessing of the statue of Our Lady was blessed.
Sean Owens asked me to say a few words which I did, recalling the lovely relationship which had existed between the Sisters and the local people.
About 100 people attended the service among whom were many past pupils of the Schools and their parents. They made us very welcome and recalled with us many memories of the Sisters.
The following is a poem, written and read by Tom D. O’Hara at the blessing of the statute:
T’is with the greatest of pleasure
and a cup over-flowing with joy
that we welcome our dear Friar
back home to the banks of the Moy
where his brothers spread the word
that helped raise God’s hand
at a time when dark brooding shadows
swept over the land.
And from the Abbey’s grand tower
heavenly bells did chime
to announce to the world
god’s gift beyond time.
And though sad were the partings
and deep the regret
sure the faith and hope gifted
Is as strong as ever yet.
And also cead mile failte to our Sisters
who are with us today
for to honour our mother
precious Queen of the May.
So let us pray that the spirit
that led us from darkness to joy
will smile on us this grand day
here beneath the trees, on the banks of the Moy