One of the things I love about traveling around the Beara Peninsula is discovering all the surprises tucked away here and there across the countryside. Some of my favourites include the many Marian shrines and grottos tucked into the sides of hills and along the roadways of Ireland.
We were on our way to visit the Mass Rock in Cahirkeem and spotted this lovely grotto. The inscription at the gate reads,“Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto, Cahirkeem, Blessed and Opened Dec.8th, 1953, Marian Year 1953 4″.
The grotto itself is remarkably lush and green and exudes a feeling of peace. I stood awhile enjoying the tranquility of the spot and carefully took in the whole scene. One thing about the shrine that struck me above all else was the water.
A fresh, living trickle of clean spring water flowed from below the feet of the Virgin and down the steps to the gate. I realized at one time, long before the shrine was built and afterward, this lovely little spot was likely an important sacred place, a place of prayer and supplication.
This humble little place in nature reminded me of the Pilgrim’s Prayer that stands at the entrance to the Tobernalt Holy Well in County Sligo. It also reminded me of the journey we were about to take to the Mass Rock just around the corner from the grotto. I’ll be blogging about our visit to that haunting place in my next entry. Until then, I’ve copied the prayer for you here:
Pilgrim walk softly, this is holy ground.
It has been made holy by the feet of generations
Who came here to worship God
To hear mass
To honour Our Lady
To pray for their needs and for peace.
Here are memories of a poor, persecuted people.
They braved death to come.
They walked barefoot through the woods
To worship in secret.
Here are memories of hunted priests
Offering mass in this hallowed place,
At the risk of their lives.
Will their sufferings and sacrifices be in vain?
They have handed us a torch.
Let us keep that torch alight.