The Sacraments – Matrimony

MatrimonyMatrimony, or marriage, is a covenant between a man and a woman by which they establish between themselves a partnership for the whole of life. For a valid marriage, a man and a woman must express their conscious and free consent to a definitive self-giving to each other. It is ordinarily celebrated in a nuptial Mass. For much of the Church’s history, no specific ritual was prescribed for celebrating a marriage: Marriage vows did not have to be exchanged in a church, nor was a priest’s presence required. A couple could exchange consent anywhere, anytime.

Matrimony was raised by Christ to the dignity of a sacrament when he discussed the issue of divorce with some Pharisees. Jesus said to them,
Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
[ Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:4-6 ]

The Catholic Church also has requirements before Catholics can be considered validly married in the eyes of the Church. A valid Catholic marriage results from four elements: (1) the spouses are free to marry; (2) they freely exchange their consent; (3) in consenting to marry, they have the intention to marry for life, to be faithful to one another and be open to children; and (4) their consent is given in the canonical form, i.e., in the presence of two witnesses and before a properly authorised church minister. Exceptions to the last requirement must be approved by church authority.

The Church has always recognised the states of virginity and celibacy as superior to the married state. This appears to have stemmed from Saint Paul who recommended celibacy but recognised that not all have the ability to live such a life: “Now as a concession, not a command, I say this: I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” [ 1 Corinthians 7:6–9 ]

MatrimonyOn the right is another detail from the Seven Sacraments painting. Can you find the detail in the full picture?

Below is a romanticised depiction of the marriage in 1170 between Aoife MacMurrough and Strongbow in the ruins of Waterford, painted in 1854 by Daniel Maclise. Nowadays, marriages are usually quieter affairs, with fewer dead bodies. Click the picture to see a bigger copy.Strongbow and Aoife

Holy Orders

The Sacraments – Holy Orders

There are three degrees of ordination: the episcopate (bishop), the presbyterate (priest), and the diaconate (deacon). There are particular duties that belong to each one of the degrees and only a bishop can ordain.
Bishop Lee
The Church confers the sacrament of holy orders only on baptised men whose suitability for the exercise of the ministry has been duly recognized. Church authority alone has the responsibility and right to call someone to receive the sacrament of holy orders.

The essential rite of the sacrament of holy orders for all three degrees consists in the bishop’s laying of hands on the head of the candidate and in the bishop’s specific consecratory prayer asking God for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and his gifts proper to the ministry to which the candidate is being ordained.


Ordination of a bishopBishops are priests who have been appointed by the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, to be the head of a particular diocese. Bishops are regarded as transmitters of the unbroken apostolic succession going back to the beginning of the Church.

The consecration of a new bishop requires the participation of several bishops.


ConsecrationPriests depend on their bishops in the exercise of their pastoral functions – they are called to be the bishops’ prudent co-workers. They receive from the bishop the charge of a parish community or some other office within the diocese.

The promise of obedience they make to the bishop at the moment of ordination and the kiss of peace from him at the end of the ordination liturgy mean that the bishop considers them his co-workers, his sons, his brothers and his friends, and that they in return owe him love and obedience. The sacrament of holy orders for the priesthood is normally conferred only on candidates who are ready to embrace celibacy freely and who publicly manifest their intention of staying celibate.

Priests can administer all of the sacraments except holy orders although a bishop normally administers confirmation.


DeaconThe transitional diaconate is a temporary stage which a man passes through on his way to be ordained to the priesthood. Normally, a transitional deacon is ordained as a priest after six months.

Permanent deacons are ministers ordained for tasks of service of the Church; they do not receive the ministerial priesthood, but ordination confers on them important functions in the ministry of the word, divine worship, pastoral governance, and the service of charity – tasks which they must carry out under the pastoral authority of their bishop.

The permanent diaconate is made up of men (who may be married) who can perform baptisms, witness Catholic marriages, assist at burials and the Mass (without consecrating the bread and wine), and deliver sermons and instruction.

As part of a process of renewal of ministries in the Church, both lay and ordained, the Second Vatican Council decided to restore the diaconate as a distinct ministry and the Irish bishops have now established the permanent diaconate in their dioceses.

In 2006 the Irish bishops produced a booklet on the permanent diaconate which may be seen HERE.

The Irish bishops’ website also has some official information regarding the permanent diaconate in Ireland. You can see it HERE.

Anointing of the Sick

The Sacraments – Anointing of the Sick


From the early middle ages until after the Second Vatican Council this sacrament was known as extreme unction (final anointing). It was administered only when death was near and bodily recovery of the sick person was not ordinarily looked for. The emphasis was on preparing the sick person for entry into the next life – forgiveness of sins and Holy Communion were an important part of the rite.

Holy OilThe anointing was done with holy oil, usually on the forehead and hands. The picture shows three jars of holy oil: the Oil of the Infirm (“Oleum Infirmorum”) for the anointing of the sick; the Oil of Catechumens (“Oleum Catechumenorum” or “Oleum Sanctorum”) for baptism; and holy chrism (“Sacrum Chrisma”) for baptism, confirmation, and holy orders.

Since 1972, when the name anointing of the sick was adopted, the emphasis has been on the sick person rather than the dying person. The basis for the sacrament lies, principally, in the letter of James, the Brother of the Lord, but also in the gospel of Mark:

Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
[ James 5:14-15 ].

So they [ the twelve apostles ] went out and proclaimed that people should repent. And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them”.
[ Mark 6:12-13 ].
The picture shows a detail from the Seven Sacraments painting. In the foreground a man is being ordained (see The Sacrament of Holy Orders). In the background a sick man lies in bed. He’s not in great shape and a good feed would do him no harm. Can you find this detail in the full picture?


The Sacraments – Reconciliation

Fenor Confessional Box

This sacrament is also known as the sacrament of penance or confession. It is the method by which individual men and women may confess sins committed after baptism and have them absolved by a priest. A new approach to confession was introduced at the Second Vatican Council, providing other options besides the traditional way of telling sins to a priest in the confessional (see picture opposite of the confessional in Fenor church) and advising us that confession was more about becoming reconciled with God.

Catholics believe that all of the sacraments were instituted by Jesus Christ himself. In the case of reconciliation, that institution occurred on Easter Sunday, when Jesus first appeared to the apostles after his resurrection. Breathing on them he said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.’ [ John 20:22-23 ].

Also, St. James, the Brother of the Lord, urged us to ‘Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.’ [ James 5:16 ]

Three things are required of a penitent in order to receive the sacrament worthily:
He/she must be contrite — in other words, sorry for his/her sins.
He/she must confess those sins fully, in kind and in number.
He/she must be willing to do penance and make amends for the sins.

Reconciliation services are held in Advent (before Christmas) and Lent (before Easter) when several priests are available to facilitate individual confession for large numbers. These services bring out the community dimension of sin and reconciliation. In some churches individual reconciliation is available on a daily basis.

Stories abound concerning the confessional box but it’s hard to beat “First Confession” by Frank O’Connor. But that was then!

Holy Eucharist

The Sacraments – Holy Eucharist


This sacrament is also called Holy Communion, the Blessed Sacrament, and the Lord’s Supper. It is a commemoration of the Last Supper, the final meal that Jesus Christ shared with his disciples before his arrest and eventual crucifixion (the picture opposite is Leonardo da Vinci’s 1498 painting The Last Supper).

The consecration of bread and wine within the rite recalls the moment at the Last Supper when Jesus gave his disciples bread and wine. It is called a sacrament of initiation because, like Baptism and Confirmation, it brings us into the fullness of our life in Christ.

St. Paul had this to say in his letter to the people of Corinth:
For the tradition I received from the Lord and also handed on to you is that, on the night he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread and, after he had given thanks, he broke it and he said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ And in the same way, with the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Whenever you drink it, do this as a memorial of me.‘”
[ 1 Corinthians, 11:23-25 ]

Catholics believe that the consecrated bread and wine that they receive in the Eucharist, usually during Mass, is the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, who is really and substantially present under the appearances of bread and wine. In this parish, children and parents are prepared together for the ceremony of First Holy Communion by means of the Do This in Memory programme.


The Sacraments – Confirmation

Confirmation is the second sacrament of Christian initiation. It is conferred by the anointing with sacred chrism (oil mixed with balsam), which is done by the laying on of the hand of the minister. The sacrament is normally administered by a bishop who blesses the chrism during Easter week on Holy Thursday. Through this sacrament the grace given in baptism is strengthened and deepened. Like baptism, confirmation may be received only once. The effect of the sacrament of confirmation is the special outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

The apostles all received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost and a group of Samaritans (the people who lived in Samaria) also received the Holy Spirit through the apostles Peter and John:

“Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, who went down and prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for it had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had only been baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.”
[ Acts of the Apostles 8:14-17 ]

The sacrament gives us a special strength to spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ, to confess the name of Christ boldly, and never to be ashamed of the Cross. This effect has been described as making the confirmed person “a soldier of Christ”. It is a great occasion in the parish when the bishop arrives to confirm the boys and girls who have been prepared to receive the sacrament by their parents and schoolteachers.


Mná na Éireann


“Well, for the women of the house, the coming of electricity in the 1950s brought a little ease and comfort. The first thing to go was the paraffin lamp which had to be filled and trimmed every night – a dirty, smelly job. Running water came next and the washing machine with it. This was a wonderful invention and the twin-tub an even better one. The heavy smoothing iron was replaced by the electric iron and the electric kettle meant that you could have a cup of tea in five minutes. The milk was now going to the creamery so churning day came to an end. This was the beginning of emancipation for the women of Ireland.”

[ Here is a 1957 video of the wonderful twin-tub that helped to set women free. Comms Team ]

Fr. McCabe and the Altar Boy

Other Stories

“Fr. McCabe and the Altar Boy”

by Bagún Glic

June 2010.

Fr. McCabe was very old and creaked audibly when he walked. He had served as a chaplain during the war and, for his bravery, was awarded the Military Medal. Perhaps it was the war that was responsible for the creaking. Rumour had it that there was still a bullet or a piece of shrapnel somewhere inside him. On top of that he was as deaf as a door knob, but that was probably just old age − he was very, very old. In spite of these physical deficiencies the parishioners of St. Aidan’s knew him as a good, kind man and a good priest – except when he forgot to turn up for a baptism or a wedding.

Learning to serve

The altar boy was young, though not very young, and he knew all Fr. McCabe’s foibles. They made a good team, he thought, though it could be challenging at times. Altar boy training, for example. At that time the Mass was said in Latin and the first task in training an altar boy was to cram his little head with buckets of Latin responses. The beginning of Mass was particularly treacherous as a dozen Latin verses had to be recited alternately by priest and altar boy at breakneck speed. As Fr. McCabe was deaf he couldn’t hear his altar boy’s responses so he just kept going, regardless, and so did the altar boy. The trick, it seems, was to both finish at the same time so that the congregation, if there was one, would be unaware of the jumble.

Introibo ad altare Dei
Ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam.
I will go in unto the altar of God
Unto God who giveth joy to my youth.

What beautiful prayers. Of course, Fr. McCabe’s altar boy knew little of their meaning. His job was to say them, not to admire them. Frostbitten fingers were quite common in our altar boy who cycled through the wintry early-morning air to get to St. Aidan’s, while the church itself was really just a large wooden hut with a corrugated-iron roof and no heating of any kind. Such fingers were a serious impediment to his putting on the long black cassock with its two thousand small buttons, so he was thankful for the three hundred which were missing around the knees. The cold must have been an impediment to the parishioners, too, as there was often no congregation. You see, Fr. McCabe and his altar boy preferred the quietude of the weekday Mass which was at 7:30 a.m., a trifle early for everyone – except, on occasion, for Mrs. O’Brien who was almost as old as the priest, who liked to sit at the back next to the organ, and who had once given the incredulous altar boy two silver sixpences which he spent on aniseed balls and liquorice.

Confiteor Deo omnipotenti,
beatae Mariae semper Virgine,
beato Michaeli archangelo …
quia peccavi nimis …
I confess to almighty God,
to blessed Mary ever Virgin,
to blessed Michael the archangel …that I have sinned exceedingly …

Perhaps “exceedingly” was overstating it for this particular altar boy or, indeed, for the vast majority of boys of his age. Still, the Confiteor was a part of the Mass and everyone had to say it. Not only had he to confess to the blessed archangel, but the poor altar boy had also to confess to Fr.McCabe in the confessional.

Are there not three conditions to be fulfilled by the penitent before absolution is given, namely: examination of conscience; an act of contrition; and a firm purpose of amendment? Should not a fourth condition be applied to the priest − that to be allowed to hear confession he should first be able to hear a bomb going off? Perhaps not. Although Fr. McCabe was as deaf as the knob on the door of the confessional, he could see the light streaming in when it opened and, after a suitable pause, would begin to mumble Latin through the grill. Although the altar boy had few sins to confess, he had to be quick about it or he would be given three “Hail Marys” and absolution before he was finished. He always came away a little disappointed on such occasions as he had been taught to value confession. One wonders how Fr. McCabe felt about it. Worse still were the times when the boy heard the chink, chink of coins as Fr. McCabe counted the collection money while he told him of fibbing and answering his mother back. But the altar boy did not condemn the old man. He liked him, even loved him, as a boy might love his granddad. Nor should we condemn him.

Pone, Domine, custodiam ori meo, et ostium circumstantiæ labiis meis: ut non declinet cor meum in verba malitiæ, ad excusandas excusationes in peccatis. Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth, and a door round about my lips: that my heart may not incline to evil words, and seek excuses in sins.

Did you ever watch an altar boy squirm as he knelt on the steps of the altar? There were no altar girls in those days but the modern altar girl appears to be squirm-free. Perhaps she, like her mother, is biologically better equipped to endure pain and suffering than her male counterpart. The Latin Mass was a long Mass and there was no sitting down on weekdays. Mrs. O’Brien could kneel, sit, stand, or lie down, but the altar boy had no choice. There were brief moments when he could stand or move around but, mostly, he had to kneel. Hours and hours of kneeling. Sitting on the altar steps was a mortal sin and Fr. McCabe wasn’t blind. All the altar boy could do to relieve the back pain and the cramp in his thighs was to attempt some rather limited aerobics – otherwise known as squirming.

Crucifixus etiam pro nobis. He was crucified also for us.

It wasn’t all pain and discomfort, though. There were some plum jobs for our altar boy. One of them was ringing the altar bell, or bells, as there were four small bells that tinkled together when shaken – and he had a lot of ringing to do. The most important bell-ringing occurred at the consecration. The altar boy had to kneel just behind the priest and ring the bells six times while holding up the end of the chasuble as the priest genuflected – to make sure that he didn’t catch his heel in it and fall over, he supposed. Other plum jobs were swinging the thurible so hard that Fr. McCabe disappeared in the fog; dowsing the tall candles high up on the altar; carrying the processional cross at the head of the posse; minding the priest’s biretta; and transferring the big missal.


The missal job was the plummiest job of all, and the most perilous. At that time the priest said Mass facing the high altar with his back to the congregation. Immediately before the gospel, the altar boy had to walk up the altar steps, pick up the big missal complete with brass stand, walk back down the steps, genuflect, and walk up the steps again to deposit the missal and stand on the other side of the altar, thus transferring them from the “epistle” side to the “gospel” side – something that the priest could do himself in two seconds. After Communion, they had to be transferred back where they came from.

The combination of missal and stand weighed a ton-and-a-half so that the altar boy had his work cut out just to carry them, never mind do pirouettes with them. But it all added to the spectacle. In addition, the same altar boy couldn’t see over the top of the missal but had to try to peer around it. His moment of true glory came when, staggering under the missal and unable to see where he was going, he kicked the undeserving altar bells from the top step down through the altar rails and into the aisle. Fortunately, Mrs. O’Brien was absent so the church was empty save for Fr. McCabe, who heard and saw nothing, and the tearful altar boy, who never told anyone.

Mea culpa, mea culpa,
mea maxima culpa.
Through my fault, through my fault,
through my most grievous fault.


The job that was the second favourite of the unfortunate altar boy was carrying the processional cross − the crucifix mounted at the top of a longish pole. Whenever there was a procession out and around the church and back, or when the priest and whoever else were to be led on and off the altar, the proud little altar boy would be there in the van, carrying his cross. A plum job all right, but pride goes before a fall, and how great was his fall. He dozed off during Benediction. The priest’s footsteps woke him with a start and he jumped up immediately, took up his cross, and made a bee-line down the aisle through a sea of smiling faces. But the priest had merely stepped into the pulpit while the altar boy had stepped outside into the rain. What to do now? He wanted to go straight home but didn’t relish cycling in his cassock and cotta armed with the processional cross, like a knight on horseback. He did the only thing he could do and walked ignominiously back up the long aisle, his glowing ears lighting the way, to his place on the altar, with eyes riveted to the floor.

In spiritu humilitatis et in animo contrito
suscipiamur a te, Domine.
In the spirit of humility and with a contrite heart receive us, O Lord.

At that time there was a terrible lot of bowing, genuflecting, kissing of cruets, inclining towards the priest or the crucifix, bowing low during the Confiteor, and so on, which our altar boy was careful to learn by heart. He was very careful, also, to avoid touching the chalice or the ciborium. That was a special kind of sin that was neither mortal nor venial. It did not “kill the soul and deserve hell” but it severely wounded it and deserved a severe chastisement from Fr. Crowe, the parish priest, who was very sticky about that kind of thing. Fr. McCabe was too old to worry about such sacrileges, which was just as well for his shaking hand was the cause of a moral crisis in the conscience of his altar boy when the chalice he was offering him touched the boy’s thumb. Now, the thumb had not touched the chalice – it was the shaking chalice that had touched the thumb, or so the boy reasoned. There was no need, therefore, to genuflect, bow his head to the floor, and turn a cartwheel, or so he reasoned. So he did none of those. But he did not sleep well that night.

Lavabo inter innocentes manus meas.
Ne perdas cum impiis, Deus, animam meam.
I will wash my hands among the innocent.
Take not away my soul, O God, with the wicked.

Holy Communion was a different affair in those days. There was no receiving the body of Christ in the hand but only on the tongue, and everyone knelt down at the altar rails. What of the altar boy? His job was to go before the priest with the paten or communion plate which he held under the chin of each communicant in turn, in case the host or some particles of it might fall. If that were to happen he would be unlikely to catch them for his attention was invariably on the different sizes and shapes of mouths, tongues, and teeth that were presented. That was on a Sunday when there were lots of tongues. They were a constant source of amusement for him and he was sometimes tempted to poke a finger into a gaping mouth – but he never did, or so he claimed.

et ne nos inducas in tentationem,
sed libera nos a malo.
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

The end of Communion signalled the approach of the end of Mass and the end of squirming for the weary altar boy. There was only the reading from St. John’s gospel, the last Gospel, to get through and a few short prayers and then Mass would be over. At Sunday Mass this was the time of the quick getaway when those who had affairs that couldn’t wait caused a minor commotion at the back of the church. Of course, Fr. McCabe couldn’t hear it, but he new it was going on and he would creak round and glower at the backs of the faithful departing, to the delight of the faithful remaining. At midweek Mass it was a quiet time when our altar boy could reflect on his performance with satisfaction or regret.

Ite, Missa est. Go, the Mass is ended.


At last, Fr. McCabe and his altar boy would stand side by side at the foot of the altar and bless themselves. The boy would genuflect and hand the biretta to the priest. The priest would perform a genuflection of desire and follow the boy off the altar. One day, Fr. McCabe didn’t comes back to his altar and, one day, neither did the altar boy.

Neddy Murphy

Other Stories

“Neddy Murphy”

by Bob Rockett

June 2010.

[ This story of Neddy Murphy was specially written for this web site. In the story the author recalls an event of nearly eighty years ago as though it were yesterday. – Comms Team. ]

Sombre and Silent.

fenor-graveyard-smallA parish community is an institution involving many personalities from within its confines, each one doing his or her best to personalise the portrayal of their role. The subject of my contribution is Neddy Murphy, the grave digger from about 1910 to 1935. Grave digger Neddy Murphy was a low sized man of slight build, with a pleasant disposition. He portrayed the personality of the man for the job of burying the dead − he was sombre and silent. For celebratory events where his services were required, he had the appropriate ornamentation. He also assisted his wife, Maggie, who was the sacristan. His duties also included attending to the upkeep of the cemetery, cutting the grass just once a year at hay cutting time.

They had a family of two girls and three boys, the oldest a girl, born about 1917, the youngest a boy born in 1922. Members of the family occasionally stood in for either parent as the situation warranted. All are now deceased, both girls and one boy died in England. The oldest girl, who had married a local man, had a family of a girl and a boy, still living somewhere in England. Two of the males married local girls and their families and live in the locality. The youngest male continued as official gravedigger almost up to his death some years ago.

I have noticed, when walking a little distance behind his grandson on the odd occasion, the resemblance to Neddy as he swings his right leg, just as Neddy did, as we walked behind him on our way to school in the early nineteen thirties.

Oh for the Memory.

The family resided in a thatched cottage (now gone) a short distance from the church as tenants of a seven or eight acre holding. They kept a cow and produced their own milk and butter. Neddy was a resourceful man who grew his own vegetables and feed for the cow and the two asses that were used in cultivating the crops. It was unique to have trained the asses and disciplined them as one would do with horses − it called for exemplary patience.

Neddy played a role in the fight for independence. He demonstrated his allegiance to de Valera’s policy of self sufficiency by growing a small patch of tobacco in 1933. The venture was not a success.


Going to or coming from school, we would surely meet Neddy going about his business as small farmer, grave digger and, on Sundays, bell ringer and offertory collector. His Sunday morning church duties routine began when he walked to the church (he didn’t own a bike) to ring the bell at eight o clock or thereabouts − a reminder to parishioners that it was Sunday and that Mass would begin at 9:15. Then, he went home and ate breakfast. He was back again before nine o’clock to take up duty as offertory collector, standing inside the church door with a little wooden box held in his hand or placed on a stool in front of him, and into which the pennies and halfpennies were dropped.

The cemetery, back then, differed totally from that of today. There were about a dozen trees of different varieties growing here and there in no particular order. An imposing sycamore tree stood just to the right inside the gate. In summer its leafy branches afforded much shade but, in autumn, its discarded leaves caused a problem. Following an engineer’s report in 1955 on the church buildings recommending that the trees be removed due to leaf shedding clogging the gutters, the trees were all cut down. But that is another story.

Sunday Tragedy.

The congregation assembled devotedly for Sunday Mass; seldom was there change. That is, until a warm Sunday morning in early July 1934. As my younger brother and I drew near the church there was considerable commotion. The movement of people coming and going around the area under the big sycamore tree was most unusual. Drawing nearer, one perceived a sense shock and drama in every face. Getting closer to the scene, we too were shocked on seeing Neddy Murphy laid down on the grass, divested of his shoes and socks for anointing. Some of his family, who had just come upon the scene, were crying and totally in shock.

He had performed his earlier duties as usual and taken up his stance at the door when he collapsed and was dead before he fell. There was only one elderly spinster who made it her business to be in church before Neddy took up duty and it was she who is supposed to have called the priest who was in the vicinity near the alter. The priest anointed him and summoned a few others, men and women, who were arriving − the women to console Mrs Murphy, the men to arrange to take his body to his home. This was done by procuring a door from the pub near by, placing his body on it and a relay of men carrying him to his home.

Mass was started later than usual that day. There was constant whispering as worshipers could not resist the temptation of referring to the drama that had disturbed the tranquillity of that Sunday morning. The doctor was notified and confirmed that, as he put it, he had been dying for the last week. He would have been in his early sixties and was never known to have complained of any illness but his family recalled that, for some days previously, he had been in poor humour, a bit contrary without reason. The drama of that Sunday morning is still remembered by the few survivors who were witness to the sudden passing of grave digger Neddy Murphy.

Other Stories

Parish Life in the Past

Other Stories


We have set aside these pages for any other stories that may be of interest to parishioners – stories written by parishioners; stories about parishioners; stories or articles from books or magazines; stories from anywhere at all.

We have only three stories so far. One is about a parishioner, Neddy Murphy, and his life and death around the Fenor church. Another is about an altar boy and his tribulations in the days of the Latin Mass. The last is a story by the Cork writer Frank O’Connor about First Confession.

It would be grand if we could get some stories from the Dunhill end of the parish as most of our stories come from Fenor. So, if you come across a story or would like to write a story that you feel might interest our readers, please let the communications team know about it. Remember, it’s not just people living in the locality who read these stories – it’s people all over the world.