The early morning piercing sound of alarm clocks broke our bubbles of sleeping slumber on Easter Sunday morning bright & early and in the pitch black. It was dark, very dark and extremely cold at 6am but the almost full moon helped to extinguish the darkness. The scene was set, the hard, detailed & delicate work put in by John Joe Ward in advance was complete, all lighting in order, all wiring for the speaker system so neatly pinned together, he had everything engineered to perfection. The Hynes family had the hospitality gazebo and area assembled under the guidance of Olive, the scones and tea brack were buttered, the water burcos were on the boil and the glow and warmth of the fire at the entrance gate of the cemetery was tangible as the congregation passed it by. The red lighted lanterns embraced the path leading to the altar which was specially assembled under the tree at St. Kerrill’s bed alongside the Paschal fire. The moon was partially peeping out of the cloudy sky and what a lovely celebration of Easter Sunday Dawn mass. We had all just heard the news that Fr. Raymond Sweeney took ill the night before and Fr. Christy McCormack, Fohenagh was summoned at short notice to celebrate the dawn mass. We wish Fr. Raymond a good rest and a speedy recovery. It was fitting that first daylight appeared at the back of the newly erected crucifix, which was recently restored by tradesman Martin Finnerty and must now surpass its original splendour and was just erected during this last week between the old and new cemeteries in Cloonkeenkerrill. Fr Raymond Sweeney had sourced the deteriorated crucifix from the Mercy Convent, Ballinrobe almost 2 years ago. Much work was required to restore the large crucifix to its original beautiful condition. The cross was removed from its Ballinrobe location by the Cunniffe contingent Bernie, Odie & Eanna, Martin Finnerty and Pat O’Malley caretaker of the convent. Subsequently it was transported to Martin Finnerty’s workshop where two years delicate restoration work was required by Martin to transform it to the beautiful figure it is today. Two new feet for the celestial figure were sculptured by Brendan Finnerty, a hand was repaired and a new wooden cross fabricated on which the Redeemer’s figure was mounted. The restored crucifix was erected into position by the Cunniffes, Martin Finnerty & Eamon Burke between the old and new cemeteries last week in advance of Holy Week and now takes pride of place. Thanks to Jimmy Quinn who carried out all steel work for mounting the crucifix and to Canice Feely who designed the steel structure; Alfie Doyle who made the nails for the figures hands & feet and Damian Fahy who supplied the required paint to complete the restoration work.
As dawn mass 2016 began ‘Morning has Broken’ was the most fitting hymn and as the morning progressed and daybreak broke the darkness drifted gently away. The skyline behind the new crucifix changed its colour many times as daylight broke while the sharp crisp cold air filled our lungs. There were large echoes of silence and echoes of loud prayer. Thanks to Tony McLoughlin and choir who enhanced the liturgy in such a special way. Thanks to the ladies who provided such a welcome cup of warm tea and freshly baked refreshments until the rain came down and ran so many away to their nice warm nests. It was a beautiful celebration and a spiritual Easter morning ceremony of healing & hope.