A County Kilkenny museum has been mounting its own display of religious objects and memorabilia to coincide with the great Eucharistic Congress.
The Nore Folk Museum in bennettsbridge has a special collection of exhibits covering more than two centuries of Catholic Church history in Ireland, and curator Seamus Lawlor is highlighting these as thousands of the faithful participate in the marathon celebration of their beliefs.
Among the eye-catching array of devotional artefacts to be seen at the museum are a church lamp dating to 1890, an impeccably preserved portable tabernacle once used by priests in Ireland to say masses in people’s homes, and a special tabernacle assigned to trainee priests that they could avail of prior to ordination.
There are also parts of altars from old churches and a model of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin.
A surprise addition, which arrived at the museum only this week, is a full-sized replica of an “old style priest”, complete with clerical garb. Seamus sees this model as “a reminder of the more conservative clergy of the past that has now given way to an increasingly people-based church”.
Seamus hopes that some of the thousands of pilgrims participating in the momentous religious event around the country might consider dropping in to the museum if passing his way over the coming days or weeks.
He also suggests that maybe the tourist board ought to be looking at the potential of faith-based tourism in the wake of the Eucharistic Congress:
“It could be a big earner for that sector of the economy”, he opined, “and would benefit all of us. The pilgrims would enjoy the experience and the hotels, guest houses, and pubs would thrive. Lough Derg, Croke Patrick, our many holy wells, and the museum here...all have something to offer the religiously inspired visitor. In our present economic plight I think we should be exploring all these opportunities for raising our spirits, generating revenue, and improving the national financial situation”.