Hundreds began to gather each night at the tree stump in the grounds of St Mary’s Parish church after the apparition claims hit national and international headlines.
But Noel White, chairman of the graveyard committee, which organised the clean up of the church grounds said yesterday, numbers coming have fallen to a trickle.
He said: “You could have anything from 10 to 20 now at night time. There isn’t the huge crowd that were coming at the start. I’d say many of those calling are people on their way to Kerry for the holidays and they stop out of curiosity. It is now a passing trade.”
However, Mr White, who is also chairman of the local community council, insisted the tree stump will be retained and some form of covering will be put on it to protect it from the weather and souvenir hunters who have picked part of the bark away.
Mr White said: “Members of the Travelling community have put money together and have offered it to carry out this work. I will be meeting with parish priest, Canon Dempsey, probably after Mass next Sunday to discuss what we feel should be done.”
Seamus Hogan, a local businessman, is also pressing to have the tree stump retained.
He said: “It is not as manic as it was. But even the other night a busload passing through Rathkeale pulled up. It is now more local people who are coming there to pray.”
Canon Dempsey has stated that he has no problem meeting with members of the community council to discuss the tree stump and what has been done. He has supported the view of his curate, Fr Willie Russell in that there is nothing to see in the tree, other than a stump of a tree.
Mr White, meanwhile, said the main concern is to ensure the area is safe for people to come.
He said: “Where the tree is there is a low wall, behind it there is 20ft fall into the school yard. A builders’ fence has been put up.”