Catholicism is everywhere in Ireland.
We visited a church on Inis Meáin, one of the Aran Islands, and during our ten minutes there three different people came in to say a prayer and light a candle. Considering less than 200 people live on the island, that’s really something. As we walked the narrow lanes, among the stone walls and tidy cottages, there were numerous well-tended garden shrines.
Scattered across the Arans you can see where monks and saints prayed 1500 years ago. Today it still seems it would be a good place for those seeking the monastic life.
Naturally we thought it would be a good idea to go to mass during our trip; how this came to be was nothing short of providence.
Late on Saturday afternoon we visited Gallarus Oratory on the Dingle Peninsula. It’s Irish name, Séipéilín Ghallarais, means The Church of the Place of the Foreigners. This couldn’t have been more appropriate.
Just before we got there, a bus arrived carrying a tour group from a church in Frederickburg, Virgina. Their pastor, Fr. Don Rooney, was saying mass just outside the ancient chapel, and we joined the group in their celebration.
The best part was afterward when Father Rooney and his parishioners told us how happy they were to have us among them. These pilgrims on their bus were doing what the earliest Christians did, travelling far from home, and carrying with them the word of God.