26 June 2009

Valentia Island

For fifteen years of our lives, we would, around now, be setting off for seven weeks at one of the loveliest places I have ever known: the island of Valentia, off County Kerry near the bottom left hand corner of Ireland. The sort of jokes the English make about the Irish, are, in Ireland, made about the people of Kerry; and, in Kerry, are made about the people of Valentia. But they are, in my view, marvellous people, friendly, articulate, ever curious. We went there because, during the summer months, the Church of Ireland opened up a church there for the holidaymakers (there being no Church of Ireland parishioners living there), and provided a chaplain's house.

I am reminded of Valentia every morning that I say a Latin (EF) Mass; you see, during our visits I got to know, very well, the Parish Priest, Fr John Shanahan, a gracious, generous, and well-read man. Having mentioned to him that I stood in need of an Altar Missal, and Did he have a very old one that his church wouldn't miss (this was about the time I was aching to change my Latin language Masses from Novus Ordo to the old rite), I found a very nice 1950s missal in a bag on my doorstep. It must have been acquired back in the glory days of the Irish church; during the Marian Year of 1954, commemorating the centenary of the Proclamation of the Dogma of the Immmaculate Conception, the then Parish Priest had a derelict slate quarry transformed into a very creditable representation of the Grotto at Lourdes. On Assumption Day Fr John and I used to go there and lead his congregation (with the addition of one or two of my Church of Ireland people) in the Glorious Mysteries of the Holy Rosary. It was quite an education for the people of Kerry, many of whom had previously been under the impression that the Church of England was Protestant.

The Church of Ireland eventually decide that it didn't want to spend the money providing a chaplain for congregations that never rose much above thirty; at the end of June I still suffer withdrawal symptoms. If you want to go to a holiday spot with fishing, water sports, regattas, ogham stones, ancient monastic sites, fossilised tetrapod footprints, choughs, razorbills, gannets, fulmars, puffins, seals, dolphins, oysters, scallops, lobsters, subtropical gardens, fantastic walks ... you can't do better than Knightstown, Valentia. When you go into the village shop, tell the Reidys that I sent you. And mention my name if you get Owen Walsh to take you out to the Scelligs. And don't forget to say your rosary in the Grotto.


MacSeamus1 said...

What a lovely entry. I enjoyed reading this.

motuproprio said...

I take it that this is the Valentia that crops up in the Shipping Forecast beloved of we insomniacs.