A Co Galway priest thinks his parishioners may have discovered a novel way to attend religious ceremonies while obeying the rules of social distancing — a drive-in Mass.
The Parish of Kiltullagh and Killimordaly in East Galway held what is believed to be Ireland’s first drive-in Mass last Sunday to celebrate Mother’s Day and parish priest Fr Martin McNamara says he is staggered by the number of parishioners that attended.
Special permission had to be given for the event by Bishop of Clonfert, Michael Duignan, and although there are no plans to hold another similar Mass this weekend, Fr McNamara says it was a resounding success:
“It was a special occasion for Mother’s Day," he said.
"I haven’t thought about doing it again, but a lot of people have said it would be nice to have it more often and every Sunday if possible.
“People had to stay in their cars, but they could let down the driver's side window to ensure there was no contact with the cars on either side. It worked very well, people observed the regulations and it was a great occasions. So many people were so happy that we did it."
“It was the simplest thing on the earth, there wasn’t a bit of trouble on me. On the Thursday before that Sunday two mothers came to me and asked me if it would be possible to give Mass over the PA system and that they’d stay in the carpark in their cars.
"I consulted with Bishop Duignan and he said it would be fine, provided the regulations were obeyed. Friday then I said ‘yes’, it can go ahead.”
Like all non-essential gatherings, religious gatherings have been banned in an attempt to curb the spread of Covid-19, which has meant weddings and christenings have been cancelled in parishes, while funerals have gone ahead with only close family present.
Fr McNamara says the Mother’s Day Mass in Kiltullagh lifted the spirits of so many of his parishioners with dozens of vehicles filling the car parks.
“It has been very difficult. We have had to cancel some christenings because people would have come from different places.
"We have also cancelled weddings, but we have a funeral tomorrow and we had one on Monday too, which had to go ahead with the family on their own in the church. It is tough, very hard on them. But last Sunday worked very well.
“When I came out from the church at the end of the Mass, just to salute the people, I couldn’t believe my eyes, the place was thronged with cars. The two big carparks were full, and up and down the road too.
"It carried so well over the PA system that people in the new estate could hear me.”
One of those who attended the drive-in Mass on Sunday was Supermac’s founder, Pat McDonagh, who is from there:
“It was really well attended. Fr McNamara said the Mass from the altar, we all stayed in our cars and rolled down the window.