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  Celtic Congress on Cape Clear

Wednesday 22 July saw a very special event on Cape Clear Island with the arrival of 60 delegates taking part in the 2015 International Celtic Conference taking place in nearby Rosscarbery.  This is an annual gathering of representatives of the 6 Celtic nations comprising Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Brittany, Island of Man and Cornwall. These are know in their native languages as Éire, Alba, Cymru, Breizh, Mannain and Kernow.

Arriving on the Island on the 10.30am ferry the group first partook of light refreshments in Club Cléire, stopping briefly at the Shrine and Pilarstone of Naomh Ciarán as pilgrims and visitors have done for 1600 years. The delegates from Kernow are of course knowledgeable and interested in Naomh Ciarán who is also their patron saint known in their language as St Pirriam. Afterwards most of the group joined Séamus Ó Drisceoil for a guided walking tour to the Heritage Centre and were entertained by the incredible rich history and folklore of the Island. Many of them purchased and commented on the excellent and bilingual Heritage/Walking Guide which is available for only €5 in the Tourist Office/Craft Shop. Visitors are known to spend 2-3 days exploring the Island guided by this fascinating and rather substantial booklet where the text is in all cases complimented by the relevant photographs.

The delegates were also very impressed by the Heritage Centre, by the nature, the extent and the presentation of the collection and in that regard  delegate Maggie Taylor from Cornwall was delighted to see her own picture from her last visit to the Island 15 years ago when a delegation visited from Cornwall. She recognised her other companions of that trip and all the Cornish delegates were very happy to see that their visit had been so well recorded. Maggie is shown seated later in the Club.

Following lunch back at North harbour the group assembled in the Old Church in Reilig Chiaráin, in the spot where the original church of Naomh Ciarán is known to have stood and where the first Mass in Ireland is reputed to have been celebrated by Naomh Ciarán himself for an ecumenical service.  This was led by Capuchin  Fr Pádraig Ó Cuill and featured the Gospel from St Matthew read in all 6 languages and various hymns in Irish lead by members of Cór Dubhlinne. These were Deus Meus, A Íosa glan mo chroíse, Giolla mo chroí, Is naofa naofa tú, Dóchas Linn Naomh Pádraig and at the end the Ár nAthair as composed by Ó Riada. An tAth Pádraig delivered a well-polished sermon in Gaelic and English on the theme of the conference “What is National Freedom” within the context of Christ’s ministry to all nations equally. Other Ministers of Religion present included Fr Ros Críochtun from Benbecula, Fr Leo Arnold from Cymry and  Rev Sieffre Ganier, Vicar of Meidrin in Cymru. All these are also shown photographed together still in Reilig Chairáin  after the service.Other photos show the group in the Club, on the walk to the heritage Centre and in Reilig Ciaráin.

The delegates to the Celtic Conference were a varied group but all were erudite, curious, knowledgeable, soft spoken and sociable people who clearly were enjoying their time and indeed the many gifts Oileán Chléire has to offer. We hope they enjoy the remainder of the conference and that this commendable voluntary Institution will thrive in the years to come. We commend local organiser Seán Mac Suibhne for his hard work and commitment in organising this gathering.

email:   telephone: 028 41923