Hundreds of worshippers stumped by ‘image’

HUNDREDS of people gathered last night in an all-night vigil to pray at the stump of a felled tree which locals in west Co Limerick claim projects an image of Our Lady.

A local priest has spoken out against what is being described as the Miracle of Rathkeale.

But the crowds travelling to recite the rosary have grown by the day as word of an apparition spread.

Already 1,400 people have signed a petition to have the stump, located in the grounds of St Mary’s parish church, retained.

But curate Fr Willie Russell has come out against people worshipping at the tree.

He said: “There is nothing there. It is just a tree and you can’t worship a tree. I didn’t notice anything about it myself.”

Shop owner Seamus Hogan said news of the discovery spread like wildfire.

He said: “They’ve been doing landscaping work for the last couple of weeks near the church, cleaning up and cutting trees.

“And one of the lads cut down a tree and there it was. There were up to 90 people there last night and they came from as far away as Ballingarry, Askeaton and Newcastle West.

“Young and old people were there and a lot from the town itself. Around midnight, everyone said the Rosary.

“There was certain peace about the church and it was a lovely moment.

“I think it’s a good thing, even if it only encouraged people to go into our beautiful church in Rathkeale.”

One woman leaving the church grounds yesterday said: “I don’t know what anyone else thinks but, to me, it’s the image of Our Blessed Lady.”

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