April 28th marks the feast day of St. Cronan, patron saint of Roscrea town and parish, but despite the prominence of St. Cronan in the town, the occasion until this year was never marked publicly. In November last a small committee comprising of Joan Murray, Peg Caverley and Adrian Hewson got together to see how best the day could be celebrated; and with the support of the local clergy it was decided to host an ecumenical friendship walk in the steps of St. Cronan from Sean Ross to Roscrea with short ceremonies at three venues enroute associated with the saint. The Sunday before the feast day was the chosen date to hold the celebration.
Fr Tom Corbett accepts a presentation consisting of an image from Roscrea’s Book of Dimma on behalf of Camblin Church from local historian George Cunningham who played a significant role in the success of Roscrea’s celebration day in honour of St Cronan.
Last Sunday, despite threatening rain clouds a sizeable number of people gathered at the ancient abbey of Sean Ross where the saint has his first monastery in this locality. The walk then proceeded to the modern archway close to the N7 in remembrance of Cronan’s journey along the Slí Dhala to found his larger monastery adjacent to the great highway where he was more accessible to pilgrims of his day; and where St. Cronan’s church now stands in Church St; and it was there that the walk ended in the shadow of the high cross once known as ‘The Shrine of St. Cronan’.
Joan Murray one of the principal organisers of the “St Cronan’s Day” Celebrations in Roscrea on Sunday last, is pictured here presenting an image from Roscrea’s Book Of Dimma to Dom Richard Purcell,
Abbot of Mt St. Joseph’s.
At each venue along the route, a short service was held, and intercessions were offered for the town and community, with St Cronan’s life story being interlinked with the chosen hymns and readings. Appropriate scripture readings were read by Dom Richard Purcell, Abbot of Mt. St. Joseph, Fr. Tom Corbett, P.P. , Rev. Lesley Robinson and the Rev. Brian Griffin. The intercessions were led by George Cunningham, local historian, the Mayor of North Tipperary, Councillor Denis Ryan and Eirene Griffin. The introductions were led by Adrian Hewson and Peg Caverley. Hymns with a local flavour were sung by Roscrea Community Choir accompanied by Joan Murray, and they included ‘St. Cronan Roscrea’s Best’ specially composed by Dom Laurence, Mt St Joseph Abbey and ‘For All Thy Saints in Glory’ with a verse composed by the Rev. Lesley Robinson in honour of St Cronan. In keeping with the monastic tradition members of the community of Mt St Joseph Abbey sang a psalm in the grounds of St. Cronan’s Church, while in the grounds of Sean Ross Sr. Margaret welcomed the pilgrims and read a reflection by Carmel Cunningham.
A special feature of the occasion was the presentation of images from Roscrea’s Book of Dimma to each church in the parish. As it is hoped that the celebration will become an annual event in the following years, the images will be exchanged amongst the churches and so forge greater links between Roscrea’s original manuscript treasure which is now in Trinity College and the town itself. George Cunningham gave a short introductory talk on the significance of the Book of Dimma to Roscrea.
A happy event which was not even dampened by a sudden downpour ended with refreshments in St. Cronan’s Church where all could view the winning entries in the children’s art competition which was organised in conjunction with the Friendship Walk. The hospitality and friendship once associated with St. Cronan’s monastery is alive and well in Roscrea. St Cronan must be pleased!