Killeedy’s Mass Rock, there it is, nestled in among the beautiful Irish countryside.
Hold up, what do you mean you can’t see it? It’s right there!
Yep, right there. Squint if you have to.
Ok I’ll zoom in a bit …
You see it yet?
OK, here it is up close.
Mass Rock? What? Where? Why?
Simple but also beautiful, located in the middle of nowhere (sort of) asnd half way up a hillside, accessible only via a small set of rock steps but a vantage point from which you can take in some of the most incredible views of the Co. Limerick countryside. I give you Mass Rock.
Standing upon Mass Rock and looking out over a beautifully lit and peaceful looking Irish town of Killeedy in Co. Limerick, it was hard to imagine the mysterious/secretive nature of the site as at its beginnings, but this site isn’t hidden away from the world for no reason. It’s deliberately hard to find!
But why? Why at some point in history, were some Irish people forced to practice their religion in secret?
Being that I personally am not religious and was not bought up to go to church, I wont pretend that I know religion or understand what it is to have faith in a higher power, but having read into Mass Rock a little I have learned that it is the perfect example of a remote Irish location chosen to hold Catholic religious ceremonies in the 17th and 18th centuries, when practicing the Catholic faith and attending Mass was not a particular safe practice. The danger in such ceremonies owing to both Cromwell’s campaign against the Irish (see my Kilkenny post for more Cromwell vs Ireland related facts), and the Penal Laws of the late 17th and early 18th centuries (laws that that’s when attempted to impose/force Irish Roman Catholics and Protestant dissenters to accept the reformed denomination as defined by the English state established Anglican Church.
Obviously things are a little different nowadays having been tidied up and decorated post Cromwell. First in the 1960s Muintir na Tire (national voluntary organisation dedicated to promoting the process of community development) cleaned up the area and erected a shrine. Then in 1979, to commemorate the Pope’s visit, a monument was erected on the roadside bearing the inscription ‘In commemoration of the visit of Pope John Paul II, September 29th to October 1st 1979’, and in addition to the Pope’s monument, a plaque was erected to commemorate the memory of the “priests and people who at the risk of their lives offered Holy Mass here”.
As I said, I can never really understand all that this rock embodies and holds dear, but I can appreciate that it was a site which helped certain people be who they want to be ,while also helping them believe in that which they want to believe in, despite the risks.
From my point of view it was a desecrate location from which to take in an incredibly beautiful and natural looking Irish countryside on a fine afternoon, having just spent the lunch at Ballybunion beach! It was a simple 15 minutes spent visiting the rock, but very worthwhile all the same.
As far as Saturdays go, this one wasn’t half bad!