Sunday, March 23, 2014

Latin Mass Pilgrimage to Duiske Abbey 2014

It’s the fourth successive year that we’ve had Mass in the beautiful Duiske Abbey thanks to the kindness of the Priest and people of Graignamanagh. It almost completes our ‘conquest of the Barrow’ since we have organised Mass at Emo in the Parish of Portarlington, Monasterevin, Carlow, Bagenalstown, Goresbridge, Graiguenamanagh and New Ross, covering almost the whole length of the river. God willing, Mountmellick and Leighlinbridge will soon ‘fall’ to the Catholic Heritage Association!

Duiske Abbey is one of those few ancient Churches that are again in use for Catholic worship, the Black Abbey, Kilkenny, and Holy Cross Abbey, Co. Tipperary being two others. The story of its restoration to the Church, thanks to the intervention of ravens who harassed the Anglican congregation that was using part of the old Abbey Church until they abandoned it to the Catholics, and who then left the Catholics in quiet enjoyment of the place, has already been told in these pages. 

Another story relating to Graiguemanagh is actually about its twin town of Tinnahinch, which occupies the other side of the bridge across the River Barrow. There was an ancient custom among the Irish, first begun at the time of St. Patrick by Agneis, the Queen of the High King Laoghaire, that each King would give up a sheep from each of his flocks each year to the poor in honour of St. Michael the Archangel. The King of Ossory, Doncadh, restored the custom in the 10th Century. Tinnahinch was a centre of devotion to St. Michael in the Kingdom of Ossory in the Middle Ages and a Church and Holy Well were dedicated to St. Michael at Tinnahinch.

 The story of the Barrow is a story of Bridges. The passage and retreat of the men of 1798 across the bridge at Goresbridge about 6 miles upstream of Graiguenamanagh, has already been mentioned. They had to make their crossing there because the eastern side of the bridge over the Barrow was blown up by the English forces to prevent the crossing of the men of Wexford towards Kilkenny.

 In the latter half of the 6th Century, St. Fiacre had his monastery at Ullard, also in the Parish, before he travelled to France to found the monastery at Meaux. Dr. Comerford relates that St. Fiacre was a student of St. Comgall of Bangor, Co. Down (who had himself studied under St. Fintan at Clonenagh, near Mountrath), and had administered the Last Rites to his tutor. Returning home with the arm of the Saint as a relic, he was asked to baptise the son of the local Chieftan, Aedh, and when he reached into his satchel to take out the Ritual, the arm flew up into the air and fell to the ground. Aedh gave St. Fiacre the site at Ullard for a Church and shrine to the relic of St. Comgall.