People flocked to the Coolagh cemetery to attend a special Gathering Mass said by Bishop Seamus Freeman on Saturday. The old church and cemetery on Coolaghmore Hill played host to the service, which was followed by an evening of food, music and dance at the nearby Coolaghflags. On a glorious summer’s evening, Bishop Freeman drew the attention of the 150 or so present to those buried in the cemetery, and to the persecutions which many of them had endured because they were Catholic. “I wouldn’t like to boast that our faith is as good as theirs was,” he said, “but it can be, and it would be good if it was.”
Though the Bishop was born in Mullinahone, he moved to Coolagh aged nine months, and spent his childhood in the area where his father was a farm manager. Six months of preparation went into hosting the event which attracted many Coolagh natives and the Coolagh Committee members left nothing to chance. Peggy Lyons, Mary Hennessey and the Coolagh Choir provided the music, and John Corrigan’s singing stood out. Ellen Bergin, whose father was the last person to be buried in the cemetery, played the bagpipes.
Coolaghmore Hill was spectacular, which combined with the music made for a cemetery Mass which was anything but sombre. A sports day organised by Committee members Julie O’Brien, Michael Saunders, Mary Byrne and Shem O’Neill had been held earlier.