BALLINSPITTLE will feature prominently in an RTÉ documentary next week that looks at the moving statue phenomenon that gripped the country 34 years ago this summer.
Moving Statues – The Summer of 1985 hears from people who claimed to have witnessed statues moving before their eyes and it features sightings, not only in Ballinspittle, but also Monasterevin, Sligo and Stradbally.
This phenomenon was reported in over 30 locations across the country and lasted until September that year when suddenly the crowds died away and the statues ‘stopped moving’.
Those featured in the programme include West Cork woman Patricia Bowen, Dr Jurek Kirakowski from UCC and well-known West Cork chip van owner John Daly, who admits he did a roaring trade during those summer months when the ‘Grotto Burger’ became a popular attraction.
Ballinspittle became world-famous during the summer of ’85, drawing huge crowds in buses to visit the Grotto to Our Lady on a daily basis.
The influx of people coming to the village resulted in road improvements, extra parking spaces and public toilets. It was also a boomtime for the many local business such as guesthouses and B&Bs in the area.
It reached its peak on August 15th when over 20,000 people came to pray at the grotto for the Feast of Our Lady’s Assumption. Two months later there was consternation when three men – all from the Christian Faith Centre of Ireland – wielding axes and hammers, attacked the statue of Our Lady and damaged her face. Despite the damage caused, Maurice O’Donnell, who made the original statue was able to put the face back together again.
Moving Statues – The Summer of 1985 will air on RTÉ 1 on Monday April 15th at 9.30pm