The Annual 10k run and its aftermath were over. It was 2.50am and time for bed for an early morning rise to prepare for dawn mass in Cloonkeenkerrill cemetery which is now an annual event and very much part of everyone’s calendar. My alarm stated ‘Alarm set for 1hour & 6 seconds from now’. There were scones to be made which was more important than my fluffy pillow. 4am was far from the crack of dawn. It was pitch black outside but this beautiful dawn mass celebration only occurs once a year so everyone gets on with things and all hands on deck to ensure it is the beautiful celebration it is. John Joe had spent 2 weeks preparing the cemetery ……. lighting, speakers, trimming the tree branches adjacent to St. Kerrills bed where the altar was assembled, draining water from waterlogged areas, clearing rubbish dumped in numerous locations in the cemetery etc. As I travelled the quiet road to the cemetery, my arrival was greeted by Andrea & Pairic, Alma and boys all wrapped up with coats and caps who were erecting the hospitality gazebo and burcos to ensure copious teas and coffees could be served on this cold frosty morning. It was pitch black and cold but the fire at the cemetery gate served to warm us if only momentarily. The sharp crisp cold air, so fresh it slightly stung your throat, filling your lungs and chest, one’s hands and feet could hardly move. John Joe’s compilation of Tommy Fleming greeted the congregation on their arrival as they were led to the altar by lighted candles set in place by Anne along the footpath.
Fr. Raymond began the mass; Tony led the choir as the Paschal candle was lighted from the paschal fire which warmed those lucky enough to stand close by it. As the mass progressed the sky turned to a light dusky purple colour of horizontal lines as beams of daylight lit up the sky in between as nature came alive. We remembered all our loved ones lying in the cemetery as the birds began to throw out their tunes and morning was truly breaking. I’m sure there were many thoughts going through everyone’s mind as Fr. Raymond delivered his Dawn Mass homily. There were people there watching over us, their presence – very near.
As always this dawn mass was a beautiful spectacle and thanks to all who made that possible. The tea and coffee, scones, buns, biscuits, cakes & young Alma’s biscuits were dished out in abundance. The tea & coffee were most welcome, even for those who don’t drink it, if only to warm their hands.
Thanks to Fr. Raymond and the numerous people who made this the beautiful celebration it was, on this bitterly cold Easter Sunday morning. Happy Easter to you all…….