On Wednesday night last we welcomed around seventy people into the beautiful and welcoming back room of Wood and Bell café. It was standing room only! All kinds of interested parties had come to enter into polite but passionate debate about the place of the mass rock in Irish religious traditions. There were historians, archaeologists, members of the church, genealogists, local history students, and architects all ready to contribute to the conversation that followed what was an absolutely fascinating talk by Dr David Fleming of the University of Limerick.
Dr Fleming presented a captivating slideshow made up of art depicting mass rock scenes, maps showing where evidence of mass rock attendance was found, and photographs of hidden-away chapels where semi-secret worship also took place. He detailed the different contexts of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, in terms of religious persecution, and showed where these periods may have been muddled in the oral or artistic tradition that has come down to us. Many attendees were delighted to be able to purchase the book on the subject on the night. After the question-and-answer session in particular, we are all a little more aware of where the mass rocks local to our area are, from Bodyke to Garraunboy, and a few field trips were planned before going home that night!
We would like to thank Dr Fleming for fitting us into his very busy schedule, and travelling out to our twin-towns of Ballina and Killaloe to share his scholarship and research on such an intriguing topic.
Our October lecture will actually be in early November! This is due to the availability of the speaker. Stay tuned for more details on that coming soon!