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Historic gathering at Clonakilty mass rock is first in 300 years

September 19th, 2022 7:05 AM

By Southern Star Team

The Coakley family of Coumcambeg, Clonakilty making a presentation to Mgr Aidan O’Driscoll after he had celebrated mass at a mass rock on their lands. It was one of his last functions in the Clonakilty parish prior to his transfer to Carrigaline parish. From left: Don Coakley, Mgr Aidan O’Driscoll, Meghan, Sarah, Ella, Ciarán, Eolann and Catriona Coakley. (Photo: Gearoid Holland)

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A FORGOTTEN mass rock which was unearthed by a local landowner who meticulously cleared the area, saw  people gather there to pray for the first time in 300 years.

When Ireland was mapped in the 1840s, the location of standing stones and mass rocks were noted. One such mass rock in the townland of Councambeg near Clonakilty appears to have been temporarily forgotten. Word of mouth passed its location from generation to generation but nature helped to disguise its exact location.

Landowner Don Coakley had been told by his father many years ago that there was such a rock on their lands and when an overgrown rocky area was cleaned back a few years ago, the rock was revealed.

Covered on several sides, the almost natural amphitheatre structure is evidence of how masses were held in secrecy, as penal laws meant a priest was punishable by death for saying mass.

With the help of neighbours and friends over a period of time, Don cleared the area.

Mgr Aidan O’Driscoll celebrated mass there last Friday night on what was an historic occasion and the first time in nearly 300 years that mass was held there.

It was also one of Mgr O’Driscoll’s last functions in the Clonakilty parish prior to his transfer to Carrigaline.

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