Happy Holidays and Pilgrims’ Progress

During the past eight years the St Bride’s Holiday Group has enjoyed holidays in some wonderful Irish locations. We have been based in Sligo, Galway, Mulingar, Athlone, Avoca and, in 2008, Ballybofey, County Donegal. We have also had some memorable trips down south and a wonderful weekend up north in Moray - a return visit exploring the Moray Church Trail which we first visited in 2002. Our pilgrimages to Iona in 2001 and 2003 were also happy occasions when we were blessed with beautiful weather and magnificent scenery.

This year’s holiday destination is Ballina in County Mayo and we are all looking forward to a very special trip; we have arrangements in hand for some very special celebrations. We trust that, with God’s help, Canon Ryan will be tit and well to enjoy the holiday. Canon Ryan has accompanied us as spiritual leader on all of our Irish trips and I know that he enjoys the good company and the craic. Jim, our amazing driver and courier, keeps the fun going with his weird and wonderful stories of Irish folk lore; he is a very important member of the team.

What have been the highlights over the years? I couldn’t begin to list all the wonderful experiences I have enjoyed. A visit to St Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh is just about the top of the list; Rossnowlagh Priory was peaceful and beautiful; Multyfarnham Priory was memorable; the cathedrals in Letterkenny, Galway City and Derry were beautiful, and in each of these cathedrals Canon Ryan celebrated Mass. Other lovely memories are of Avoca and the Wicklow countryside - with an enjoyable visit to the Kiltegan Fathers, St Pat1ick’s, County Wicklow. There are more wonderful memories, too many to mention; we have been blessed with such an abundance of friendship, co-operation and support.

There are many people to be thanked for assistance over the years: Canon Ryan for his wonderful support and encouragement, and Jim Hendry for all his help since the Holiday Group came into being in 2001. We are all sorry that Jim is no longer able to travel with us and he is sorely missed. We have to thank Frank McCabe for his unfailing help; he is ready to give of his time without complaint. And of course, thanks to Sister Sheila, who is the epitome of kindness and support, and a wonderful friend, and to Margaret Hughes, whom I call the ‘facilitator’ because she is always ready to help and provide whatever is needed - we can all remember the large order of soda bread which she obtained from the chef at Jackson’s Hotel, Ballybofey. Thanks must also go to Neil Gill for the wonderful poems he always writes at the end of each holiday,

I am grateful for all the help and friendship I have received during the past nine' years. I especially wish to thank Canon Ryan for his wonderful support and pray, in this special year of his Golden Jubilee celebrations, that God will grant him improving health and strength to continue his priestly ministry in St Bride’s parish for many years to come.

Marion Greenan