Thousands of people attended a public celebration and blessing to mark the completion of the newly refurbished reception area of the Poor Clare convent at the weekend.
The organisers say they were “astounded” at the number of people who came to meet the sisters and see the renovations.
They say there was a particularly large crowd on Sunday which led to the regular Sunday evening prayer service having to be delayed.
Des Kavanagh, a member of the fundraising committee, says the open days on Saturday and Sunday demonstrated the faith and love the people of Galway and its environs have for the Poor Clares.
“There were even people queuing down the avenue as far as the gate waiting to get in to see the sisters.”
Committee member Anne O’Maille says it was “overwhelming.” “It seemed like thousands of people went through. What really struck me was the generosity of the people in today’s economic climate. I think it was their way of saying thank you to the sisters and I’m sure they appreciated this.”
A tent was erected in front of the monastery for refreshments and the army brass band played for an hour before the official blessing by Bishop Martin Drennan on Sunday.
Tom Cunningham, another organiser, describes the event as “truly amazing”.
“It was lovely to see the excitement on people’s faces and there was such a great buzz on the day.”
Mother Abbess Sr Colette Hayden attributes the big turnout to the fact that it was a unique occasion.
“We are an enclosed community and people know that it’s not possible for us to often hold events like this. However the renovations couldn’t have taken place without the help of the public and so we were glad to give people an opportunity to see what was done.
“We also wanted to express our gratitude personally to the many people who supported us. We were just sorry that we didn’t have more time to speak with everyone. I think the weather was another factor. Though the sub zero conditions had been forecast to last for another week or 10 days, both days were dry and bright, so I think people were glad to get out after having been cooped up for so long.”