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  Double Celebration on Cape Clear

Sunday 3 July 2016 will be remembered by many as a day that saw Cape Clear Island at it glorious best. The sunshine defied the poor forecasts earlier in the week to bestow a warm sun filled day on all of those who had invested so much time and effort to prepare for a very special day indeed. This year, the annual Graveyard Mass was brought forward to coincide with the golden jubilee of the ordination of our Island Priest, Fr Peter Quelly.

An so the different ‘meitheals’ assembled, men young and old brought their strimmer’s and shovels to clear the weeds and cut the grass not only in the graveyard but throughout the length and breadth of the harbour area, what could be swept was swept and when all was done every scrap of bunting and every flag on the Island was put aloft. Back at home, all the Island kitchens were pressed into service as each family prepared different dishes to be brought to the Club and by the time the buffet were laid there was a spectacular array of sumptuous food ready for a multitude.

As the last preparations were being made to the altar and sound system, a lone piper played beside the 12th Church and, amplified by the natural amphitheatre that is North Harbour, the haunting melodies were heard by all. Meanwhile on Sean Rua’s Pier most of the garden furniture of the Island was delivered and set up.

By the time Mass commenced there were well over 250 people present,between the Island Community, the many visitors and the students of the Coláiste Samhraidh.  Readings, hymns, music, prayers of the faithful, nothing was left to chance and everyone and everything in its place and all the deceased were fondly remembered. The talks and sermons by Fr Quelly and Fr Daithí Keneally, fellow Holy Ghost Father and were perfectly chosen for the occasion and delivered with joy under the benign eye of Fr Michael Kelleher, Skibereen , Rath and the Islands. Towards the end the oldest Island Resident, Mary Donoghue presented Fr Quelly with a specially commissioned plate by Island artist and potter, Catherine Ryan.

Following Mass, Fr Quelly was feted by a piper from the Graveyard to the Club where a major effort to feed the crowd was in full swing. The Club itself was kept exclusively for serving and no matter how long the queue there was ample for all. As the wine flowed freely, and as the guests took their seats in the spectacular outdoor surroundings the local musicians started playing nearby.

Desserts followed, another splendid array of tastiness, so many cakes, so little space left in well filled stomachs, still the wine flowed and the afternoon mellowed into a thousand cosy chats, new friendships forged and old ones renewed, and the many helping hands of the day fluttered here and there to keep everything going smoothly.

The wonderful feast, the organization, the setting, the weather, the vast amount of help given freely everyone’s contribution was rewarded by a great day, Cape Clear Island managed to enjoy itself.

I heard numerous well deserved compliments paid that day but perhaps the most relevant was overheard from a guest,  shortly before the 6pm ferry, “I learnt a new word today, I never knew what a ‘meitheal’ was before “.

Go raibh maith agat an tAth. Peadar, go raibh maith agat Cléire.


Séamus Ó Drisceoil

email:   telephone: 028 41923