A busy corner of Limerick City is transformed into a space of quiet reflection and prayer during Christmas as people converge to remember absent loved ones.

Thousands of fluttering yellow ribbons bear names placed on the Tree of Remembrance.

Names of those who have passed away, names of sons and daughters who have moved to far away places, and also the names of people who have gone missing without trace — each ribbon has its own story.

Many who come share their own personal reasons why they see the Tree of Remembrance as a place of solace and comfort.

The Tree of Remembrance iin Limerick is organised by Rotary members.

Pat Kearney, secretary of Limerick Thomond Rotary, said: “This is the eighth year we have had the Tree of Remembrance. People come for all kinds of reasons — to remember a family member or friend. They are given a yellow ribbon on which they write the name of a person they wish to remember and the ribbon is clipped onto the aluminum tree. There are thousands of ribbons already on the tree and a voluntary donation is suggested with each ribbon.

“On January 6, all the ribbons will be taken to the Augustinian Church just across O’Connell St and placed along the front of the altar when Mass will be celebrated at 4pm.

“We raised over €20,000 last Christmas and expect more this year. The money will be divided between Cuan Mhuire in Bruree, St Gabriel’s School in Dooradoyle and Gateway.”

Members of Rotary give out ribbons daily from 11am to 5pm up to December 22.

Mr Kearney said: “We have 27 members and Gerry O’Doherty organises a roster. Initially we had a real tree, but this proved impractical. Stephen Ryan of Ryan Jewellers in Roches St designed a metal tree and the parts were donated by Gammell Engineering in Patrickswell. Ray O’Halloran who runs Speedline Engineering in Moyross built the tree and Ger Lynch of Tallybrooke in Rathkeale assembles and takes it down every Christmas — all free.”

Mr Kearney said many people come especially to visit the tree and place a ribbon each year.

“The area near the tree has become a listening post and all the time we hear the many stories why people come,” he said. “They come to remember those who have died during the year, others come to remember family members who have emigrated to far-flung parts of the world, such as Australia.

“We also hear stories of people who disappeared and have been missing for years.

“We see an awful lot of elderly people and it’s great to see the comfort it gives them to put a name on a ribbon and have it fixed to the tree.”


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