Over the weekend of the Papal visit, the country saw a number of counter movements come to the fore. Possibly the two most prominent of these was the Tuam Vigil led by Catherine Corless, and the Stand 4 Truth event help in the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin city centre.
However, a local group in Athlone held their own vigil at the Civic Square on Sunday as Pope Francis delivered mass to some 130,000 people in the Phoenix Park. The Athlone event was a sister event to that of Colm O’Gorman’s Stand 4 Truth gathering, essentially held for those who could not attend either the Dublin or Tuam gatherings.
Some 70 people gathered at 3pm to hold a vigil for those whom have been impacted by the years of abuse and the inaction of the Vatican to intercede.
Organiser, John Madden, opened the poignant event by reassuring the attendees that “standing here today, is not anti-Catholic, nor is it anti-religion, it is pro-truth and a time a to pay respect to those who had not been shown the same courtesy in recent decades”.
Next to the plinth was form redress employee, Padraig Hegarty who gave a very insightful explanation into the current lives and needs of many of the survivors. A sentiment was earlier offered by the organiser stating, “we tend to think about the survivors in a historical sense, but even now in 2018, that’s exactly what they are doing, surviving”.
As well as the speeches, poetry was used to convey the feelings of the gathered crowd delivered emotionally by Anthony Keane and Caoimhe Kenny. This was followed by several minutes of quiet reflection and attendees were then given the opportunity to see the names and ages of the 796 children still allegedly interred within the grounds in Tuam.
It was a highly emotive and dignified event. Reflecting on the event, co-organiser Cath Redding Kenny stated, “the rain held off and I felt the breeze blowing through the names on the symbolic washing lines was significant and cleansing”.
It is likely that we may see more events of this nature despite the Pope’s acknowledgement of much of the atrocities, the organisers of the Stand 4 Truth want action, not just words. A movement seems to have gained momentum, what happens next, only time will tell.