Grottoes are a feature of the countryside around Ireland. This week I visited the Grotto at Mount Melleray, near Cappoquin, Co. Waterford. These grottoes have a remarkable history and are most notable, I suppose, for the case of the moving statues that began in July 1985 when the statue of Mary at Ballinspittle, Co Cork, was seen moving. The phenomenon spread across the country and more than 30 other statues were seen moving although the Ballinspittle was the daddy of them all and more than 100,000 people flocked to see it.
The Mount Melleray statue is rather dull by comparison because it only cried. The grotto (built in 1982 by the monks at the nearby monastery) is quite something, being set on a steep cliff and with a stream flowing down it. The statue is of Our Lady of Lourdes.
It is said that, over nine days in August 1985, the Virgin Mary appeared to four people. Although they were not the first to see it, perhaps the most important were the 12 year old Tom Cliffe and 11 year old Barry Buckley who saw the Virgin every night over five days.
Over nine days the Virgin gave messages to the people of the world including that:
‘God was angry with the world’.
If people didn’t change, then
‘The Devil would take over God’s church in 10 years’.
As for the two boys, their story is given at the grotto:
‘People were talking and children were running around and making a lot of noise. Our Blessed Lady said to the boy’s (sic) ‘BEHAVE’, and they related this to the people and children, When they did not heed her the first time Our Blessed Lady again said ‘BEHAVE’ and the boys again related this to the people and children. When they did not heed her second request, the boys saw Our Blessed Lady crying, and the tears from her eyes splashing on to the ground. They also related this to the people who asked why Our Blessed Lady was crying. Our Blessed Lady’s reply was: ‘I WANT PRAYER’ thereby indicating that she wanted this grotto to be a PLACE OF PRAYER’.
And the two car parks, 150 seat covered area and toilets suggest that plenty of people do come here to pray.
And you can even make a donation to get a ‘milk’ bottle to fill with water from the base of the grotto.
This is not the script from a Father Ted episode, by the way, but all true.
Nearby is the Mount Melleray Monastery where you can visit and listen to the monks singing or even stay as a retreat. It was a dull day when I visited and I can hardly imagine a bleaker place. There was no one about apart from one person in the gift shop and the cafe was closed. For the dedicated only I would suggest.
Did you know?
Today is Day of Silence day, to highlight bullying of LGBT students at schools and colleges. And it is DNA day – so go and get some if you are short of it!