Coolagh Mass Rock (Crestwood)
Coolough 365 People and Place Committee
A Mass Rock known as the “Carraig” during Penal Times has been re-discovered in a cul-de-sac in Crestwood estate Menlo Galway. A local heritage committee, “Coolough 365 Heritage Group” with the support of Galway City Council have commissioned a memorial stone at the site.
During the Penal Times Catholics were locked out of churches and forbidden to celebrate the sacraments. However, these punitive laws did not prevent people from practicing their faith. They reimagined the landscape; children were schooled in hedges and ditches, mass was celebrated in open-air churches, and flat top rocks were transformed into sacred altars.
This spring everyone will have the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of their forebears in a continuity of faith spanning centuries when mass will be celebrated at the Carraig in Crestwood (date to be confirmed) all are welcome.
If anyone would like more information please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 086 0616360
The following poem was written by Irene Hayes of Coolough 365 People and Place Committee to celebrate the discovery of the Mass Rock and to remember all those who worshipped there.
The title of this poem alludes to the Irish love song: An Raibh Tú ag an gCarraig? / Were you at the Rock? / Were you at the Mass?
* An Raibh Tú ag an gCarraig? ........Were You at the Rock?
I was there…. the day the sun shone brightly beneath a sky-blue sky
transfixed by a Rock!
Gazed in awe as pink crystals danced on its table of dark-grey granite
A joyful mystery revealed.
I was here …. 400 million years ago when birth pangs rang out into a sky-blue sky
and flowing red rivers turned to stone.
Carried by the ice 20,000 years or gotten here by the strength of
Galway men? I alone know.
A quarry man drove his pick deep into my side and I cried out for the terrible times to pass.
I was here…. during the dark years when Fr Burke came from the Claddagh to celebrate mass beneath a sky-blue sky.
Blood was spilled and bread broken on my table to give hope and nourishment to a
starving people. Children gathered around here were schooled, marriages blessed,
babies baptized and sins forgiven.
Beneath sky-blue skies and moonlit nights rests the Crestwood Mass Rock
By day children laugh and play here, by night, lovers sit and kiss
while elders pay homage….
Poem by Irene Hynes
* An Raibh Tú ag an gCarraig? Is a coded Irish love song from Penal Times, it
can be accessed on YouTube