One month shy of the 30th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s visit to Clonmacnoise, Co Offaly, over 1,000 young people turned out to celebrate their Catholic faith in a spirited and joyous fashion. Donning wellington boots and warm clothing, cold weather conditions only served to unite the crowd in a spirit of unity and fun.
Youth 2000, Ireland’s leading voluntary Catholic youth ministry, held their second annual festival at the site which was visited by the late pope in 1979 on his inaugural visit to the country, when he claimed that the ruins at the site “are still charged with a great mission”.
“Pope John Paul II was a great supporter of young people and I have no doubt that if he had been here this past weekend with us he would have been proud of all the young people of Ireland and their readiness to live life to the full,” said Paul Rooney, national leader of Youth 2000.
“The festival was a wonderful celebration of faith and without doubt it exceeded everyone’s expectations.”
Last weekend’s festival was the second such event held by the organisation in the Clonmacnoise area following a generous donation of land some years ago. The ruins at Clonmacnoise are known to be one of Ireland’s earliest monastic sites established by Saint Ciarán in 545 AD. The local community have proven to be enthusiastic about the introduction of the Youth 2000 events to the area and have supported the festival wholeheartedly.
“Since we started organising and running festivals here in Clonmacnoise we have seen incredible generosity and warmth. The local people and clergy have been fantastic to us. There is a great sense of pride about the history of the area and the local people seem keen to encourage it lives on,” said Mr Rooney adding that young people from all over the country took time off from work and studies to volunteer their time and skills at the weekend also.
Preparations on the site began a week prior to the festival and a crew of volunteers will remain at the site until this Tuesday to ensure everything is cleaned up.