On Sunday August 17th at 3.00 p.m. Solemn Mass was concelebrated in St. Michael's Church, Ballinasloe by Seán Cardinal Brady, Bishop John Kirby and most of the priests of the diocese to comemorate the 150th anniversary of the opening of the church. The celebration was graced by the beautiful polyphonic singing of the choir, the singing of the Family Liturgy Group choir and the accompanying and solo playing of instrumental musicians. The presence of parishioners native of Poland, China, Slovakia, the Philippines and Brazil was recognised by prayers of the faithful in the languages of these countries.
In his homily bishop Kirby outlined the history of the building of the church and the celebration on the day it was opened. He went on to say: "A believing church is not made of stone and wood. It is built on the prayer and faith of a people. . . . Faith comes from a family and a home. Unless we have praying families, then community and parish churches will not be of much use. "
In an address at the end of the Mass, Cardinal Brady thanked bishop Kirby and Fr. Garvey for inviting him to this celebration. He paid tribute to the people of Ballinasloe in the 1850's who, when they decided to provide themselves with a new place of worship, were determined to spare neither expense nor effort. He expessed the hope that this celebration will renew in the hearts and minds of all parishioners, the awareness of St. Michael's as a House of Prayer and as a place of blessing and a temple of praise, that all of us will become more alert to the presence of God, not only in our Church but in our lives, and that it will remind us that we have not here a lasting kingdom – but we seek one that is to come.
At a gala function in the beautiful library of St. Joseph’s College, Garbally Park, Ballinasloe on Monday December 18th 2006, “Meadow of the Miracles — a History of the Diocese of Clonfert” was launched. The author, Rev. Declan Kelly, wrote in the Preface that his initial intention was ‘to treat of each parish as a historical unit within its own right, but finally, feeling that the whole was greater than the part, I opted for a chronological approach.’ Thus, we have a volume which covers the history of the diocese from pre-Christian times to the centenary of the consecration of St. Brendan's Cathedral in October 2003.
The book was beautifully produced by Éditions de Signe with a great number of photographs, most of which were taken by Mr Theo Hanley of Kiltormer. Bishop Kirby, in his address to launch the book, expressed his delight at having such a mgnificent and scholarly history of the diocese.
Copies of the book can be bought from Fr. Kelly, Killoran, Ballinasloe, Co. Galway or from any parish of the diocese. The cost is €20 (plus postage and packing).
At the 12.00 noon Mass in St. Brendan’s Cathedral in Loughrea on Sunday October 12th, 2003, bishop Lajos Pápai of Győr presented the picture shown above to bishop John Kirby. The picture is a painted copy of the one presented to the Cathedral in Győr in 1663 by bishop Walter Lynch of Clonfert. You can read the full history of the painting in the article by Mgr Louis Page.