By Catherine Ketch
A PUBLIC meeting will be held next Monday at Áras MacSuibhne in the Muscraí Gaeltacht to discuss plans for a monastery in Cúil Aodha – the first in Ireland for 700 years.
According to proposer Peadar Ó Riada, sites have been offered, a committee is in place and a religious order is lined up for the ambitious project, which will be entirely community-backed.
‘Anyone can be part of it,’ explained Peadar, who has been toying with the idea for 40 years. Peadar has continued the tradition of the Ó Riada mass at Cúil Aodha church following his father Sean’s untimely death.
There are only two requirements for the order, said Peadar – that it provides a priest, should one ever be needed, and that it respects the local culture.
A number of plots of land have been offered and the location is expected to be close to the village church.
An order has been suggested by Ireland’s Papal Nuncio, according to Peadar. It is the contemplative order, the Family of Bethlehem, which has its headquarters in Switzerland and houses throughout Europe, the Middle East, South America and England. The order comprises both nuns and brothers, and it is not known which the order will select for Cúil Aodha.
‘Most of their monasteries are nuns which would be very appropriate in our case with St Gobnait,’ Peadar told The Southern Star. The idea builds on the tradition of St Gobnait and St Abán, and the title will include both.
All the order’s monasteries are built in the hills, so that would be in tune with the locality,’ Peader added.
He explained his belief in three energies – physical, creative and spiritual, the ideal being a balance between all three. ‘So we already have creativity in the community with our history of poetry writing and music,’ he said. The next step is that the Bishop of Cloyne must write, formally inviting the order to the diocese.The plan, according to O Riada, is to hand over the keys of the new monastery on August 1, 2018 – the birth date of Sean O Riada.
The committee is currently talking to designers, and following planning permission it is hoped to have the first work camp by mid-summer.
The idea is to draw from the skills of the community and further afield, with everyone donating their skills. A website will soon be available with a list of materials and skills required.
Special requirements include a church, refectory and a hermitage in the hills for individual 40-day retreats away from the monastery.
‘There’ll be a role for everyone. That’s the idea of community and at the end of it, we’ll have a spiritual community,’ Peadar concluded.