Happy St Patrick’s Day to All at Catholic Truth!

Happy St Patrick’s Day to All at Catholic Truth!

From Aleteia – Ireland’s “Mass rocks” are powerful reminder of ancestors’ strong faith

From 1695 to about 1750, life was difficult for Irish Catholics; churches were closed, bishops were banished and many priests were forced to leave the country. Even with this risk, priests continued to celebrate Mass for the people in secret isolated outdoor locations, using rocks as an altars. Clearly the Catholic Mass was an important part of Irish life.

Locations of Mass rocks were passed down orally, because including them on 17th- and 18th-century maps would have legitimized the Catholic faith.

The Mass rocks are an important part of Irish heritage, according to Dr. Bishop of the University of Liverpool, who has studied the rocks and set up a website about them.

“They are the symbol of the penal laws, in my opinion. They are the symbol of Catholic heritage. They are what kept the faith alive throughout the penal era. If Gaelic communities hadn’t gone to the Mass rocks, the faith would have died out,” Bishop told CatholicIreland.net.

So far, Dr. Bishop has studied Mass rocks in Cork, Mayo, Galway and the diocese of Clogher, publishing her findings on the website she set up, www.findamassrock.com. She asks for help in finding the rocks before they disappear from local memory.

She “would not be even able to begin to estimate” the final number of Mass rocks in Ireland.

“I can only base my opinions on the research that I have undertaken to date and I’ve only done Cork, Galway and Mayo,” she said.

Currently there are about 400 Mass rock recorded, many of which are inscribed with a cross. Dr. Bishop believes there are probably “many, many more.”

Priest offers Mass at Mass Rock to draw attention to [Lockdown] Mass ban
“I suppose there comes a point where certain generations are less interested in the sites and less interested in their religion and their heritage, partly because a lot of them are not physically recorded anywhere, so if somebody knows of one and doesn’t pass that information on, then the knowledge of that Mass rock is lost,” she told CatholicIreland.net.

The Irish name for a Mass Rock is Carraig an Aifrinn. Other names associated with sites where Mass was celebrated in penal times include Clais an Aifrinn, meaning “Mass ravine,” Páirc an Séipéil, or “chapel field,” Faill an Aifrinn, or “Mass cliff,” Leaca na hAltóra, indicating a flat stone or rock altar, Cábán an Aifrinn, or “Mass cabin,” Cnocán na hAltórach, meaning “small hill of the altar,” and Gleann an Aifrinn, indicating a “Mass glen.”

“As locations of a distinctively Catholic faith, Mass rocks are important religious and historical monuments that provide a tangible and experiential link to Irish heritage and tradition,” says Dr. Bishop on her website.

“When some say that they find Mass no longer relevant, I think of the Mass rocks, and the love of the Mass that inspired priests and people to gather there in all weathers, and in spite of great danger.”

Some of these Mass rocks continue to be venerated to this day.  Source – Aleteia

Editor writes…

The above reminder of the central  importance of the Mass in Catholic life, should motivate us to join the battle to preserve the ancient Mass here is Scotland, and to show the same devotion to it as did the Irish faithful in penal times. 

As ever with our devotional threads to mark a Feast Day, feel free to share your favourite hymns and prayers, stories and experiences. And a few jokes won’t go astray either. Here’s one that made me laugh, albeit having a bit of fun with the (entirely false) claim that our Irish friends are less than bright …

The BBC decided to make a news report on how thick the Irish are,  so they went to Dublin and set out a massive stage in the middle of the city. Cameras lights and everything. Before they started the report, a huge crowd gathered, very excitable.  So the presenter got up on the stage and said down the mic: “I need a volunteer!” and he points to a man in the crowd and says: “What’s your name sir?”

“Sean” the man replied. “OK Sean, come up on stage”.  So he goes up and stands where he is asked to stand. “OK Sean, I’m going to ask you a short easy question, what’s 5+9?” “Oooo,  I know this to be sure I do, that’ll be 7.” “No, that’s wrong Sean.”

The crowd went wild shouting and screaming: “We’re not tick, we’re not tick, give him another chance! “

“OK,  I’ll give him another question: “What’s 5+3?”

“I know this one, that’s simple, that’ll be 9.” 

“Sorry, Sean, wrong; ”   We’re not tick, we’re not tick, give him another chance!

“OK, one last question:  What’s 2+2?”

“I know this to be sure, I do, that’ll be 4”. 

And the crowd shouts, “Give him another chance!”

Happy St Patrick’s day!

Comments (18)

  • Margaret USA Reply

    March 17 in the Byzantine Tradition is the Feast of St. Alexis, Man of God and Our Holy Father Patrick, Enlightener of Ireland.

    March 17, 2023 at 5:47 am
  • Catherine Reply

    Happy Feast day to you all!

    March 17, 2023 at 6:50 am
  • editor Reply

    When preparing this thread, I did a tour of the Mass rocks around Ireland online, and it is amazing to see them. Just amazing. To think of the strength of the Faith which led to the creation of those rock altars and which brought the faithful together for Mass in those penal times. Incredible.

    Happy Feast to one and all!

    March 17, 2023 at 8:43 am
    • Petrus Reply


      Compare that to the diabolical louts we endured on the streets of Dublin a few years back!

      Happy feast day to you, my boy and all here at Catholic Truth.

      March 17, 2023 at 11:56 pm
      • editor


        Think of the Devil! I had, several times today, headed for my computer to wish your lovely son a happy Feast of his patron saint, and each time was distracted. Apologies! Please tell him that, assuming I’m spared to tell the tale, I’m make sure my Feast Day greetings reach him on the day next year!

        Yes, I remember well the dreadful experience we had on the streets of Dublin when we went over to help with the campaign to prevent legalisation of abortion. Diabolical is the word.

        March 18, 2023 at 12:45 am
  • Josephine Reply

    It’s quite something to see the novus ordo being said at the Mass rock in the picture, saying it all, really. The Irish government banning Mass during lockdown! Good for Fr Gerard Quirke to make that point by saying Mass at one of the Mass rocks to defy history repeating itself – God bless him for that.

    Happy Feast of St Patrick everyone at CTS.

    March 17, 2023 at 9:56 am
  • Laura Reply

    I have just read this on Catholic World Report and it made me feel very sad for Ireland – I’m of Irish stock myself (who isn’t on the west coast of Scotland!) so it touched me a great deal.

    A very happy St Patrick’s day to all at CTS.

    March 17, 2023 at 10:06 am
  • Bernie Reply

    Happy Feast!

    March 17, 2023 at 10:15 am
  • Gabriel Syme Reply

    Happy Feast Day to all!

    March 17, 2023 at 12:52 pm
  • RCAVictor Reply March 17, 2023 at 12:57 pm
    • Lily Reply

      RCA Victor,

      That’s a beautiful page – thanks for posting.

      March 17, 2023 at 1:11 pm
    • Fidelis Reply

      RCA Victor,

      I agree with Lily – that’s a beautiful site. I copied the top piece because I think it is profound:

      The Saint we have to honour today is the Apostle of that faithful people, whose martyrdom has lasted three hundred years: it is the great St. Patrick, he that gave Erin the Faith. There shone most brightly in this saint that gift of the Apostolate, which Christ has left to His Church, and which is to remain with her to the end of time. The ambassadors or missioners, sent by our Lord to preach His Gospel, are of two classes. There are some who have been intrusted with a small tract of the Gentile world; they had to sow the divine seed there, and it yielded fruit, more or less according to the dispositions of the people that received it: there are others, again, whose mission is like a rapid conquest, that subdues a whole nation, and brings it into subjection to the Gospel. St. Patrick belongs to this second class; and in him we recognise one of the most successful instruments of God’s mercy to mankind.

      Happy St Patrick’s Day to all bloggers!

      March 17, 2023 at 1:15 pm
  • Lily Reply

    Happy Feast of St Patrick everyone!

    March 17, 2023 at 1:15 pm
  • Michael 🙏 Reply

    Dear friends

    A happy St Patrick’s day. It’s a pity about the religious and moral state of the old sod (country) now. The snakes have definitely returned and run amok since glorious St Patrick drove them of the island.

    I’m off to toast everyone’s health and well being

    Every blessing

    Michael 🙏

    March 17, 2023 at 2:41 pm
    • RCAVictor Reply


      Perhaps this passage from Matthew 12 applies to Ireland:

      “43 And when an unclean spirit is gone out of a man he walketh through dry places seeking rest, and findeth none. 44 Then he saith: I will return into my house from whence I came out. And coming he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. 45 Then he goeth, and taketh with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is made worse than the first. So shall it be also to this wicked generation.”

      March 17, 2023 at 4:47 pm
      • Michael 🙏

        RCA Victor
        Beautiful and eloquent as always
        Michael 🙏

        March 17, 2023 at 6:06 pm
  • Cornelius Reply

    I wish everyone at Catholic Truth, and everyone in Ireland, a very happy St Patrick’s day!

    I agree with Michael that it’s a pity about the moral and religious decay in the country but the snakes were driven out before and they will be driven out again, LOL!

    Saint Patrick and Our Lady of Knock, will see to that!

    March 17, 2023 at 2:44 pm
  • Faith of Our Fathers Reply

    I certainly cannot let this Day go by without wishing a Happy Saint Patricks Day to all at Catholic Truth. Anyone local who wants to visit a Mass Rock and pay tribute to our faithful Irish Ancestors who kept the Faith can see one in Carfin Grotto. We never of course in our times seen the day that the Catholic Faith in Ireland and here would be so watered down as to become unimaginable . As Josephine said ” It is quite something to see a Novus Ordo Mass said at a Mass Rock “. I actually was speaking to a Man today whom i havent seen in years . I would describe Him and His Wife who never missed Mass when i went to Saturday Vigil as good Catholics. I thank God as i have said many times for this Traditional Catholic Site for leading me back to The Mass of Ages. In our conversation we spoke of Our Own Priest and He said that He didnt like Him . He also said He went to Mass and heard a Priest say that their was NO HELL and that Hell was on this Earth ,and He believed the so called Priest. Now this is a Man of whom i would have thought would have walked out of Church had a Priest said that . I know i certainly would . God help Our Children from these Apostate Priests who do not even preach basic Catholic Doctrine. Saint Patrick needs to return with a good few other Saints and start sorting these Priests out .One other thing and its been said on here .Is that N. O. Catholics now do not know the Faith. It is so true . Grudgingly i go to N.O. on a Sunday to fulfil my Sunday Obligation. The other thing is that He knew nothing of our Sunday Latin Mass being stopped by Bishop Toal. In fact very many of our locals probably are the same. Out of around 50 who attended our T.L.M. only 3 of us came from our own Parish.

    March 17, 2023 at 6:34 pm

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