Mass Rock Sites of:


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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 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

Gazed at pink crystals sparkling in dark-grey granite

A joyful mystery dancing in the mid-day sun.


I was here…. 400 million years ago; birthed red-hot lava into a sky-blue sky                                                  

Granite is not native to Coolough; dropped by the ice 20,000 years ago or carried in the arms of Galway men –

God alone knows the way here.  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 hungry years when Fr Burke came from the Claddagh to celebrate mass beneath a

sky-blue sky. Blood was spilled and bread broken at my table to give hope and nourishment to a destitute

people. Children gathered around and were schooled, marriages blessed, babies baptized and sins forgiven.


Beneath sky-blue skies rests the Crestwood Mass Rock

children laugh and play here while the elders pay homage.

Poem by Irene Hynes                

Footnote: *An Raibh Tú ag an gCarraig? Was a coded Irish love song from the Penal Times. If the song was translated into English an enemy spy would not understand its hidden message i.e. is it safe to go to mass/rock? This beautiful song is still sung today and also can be heard on YouTube: An Raibh Tú ag an gCarraig? (were you at the Rock)


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