A north Galway parish says it is “overwhelmed” by the response to its “drive-though” Ash Wednesday, marking the first day of Lent.
"A tremendous success" was how Glenamaddy parish secretary Breda Keaveney described the 90-minute distribution of ashes onto hundreds of foreheads outside the Catholic church.
“It has been a beautiful atmosphere in this bright sunshine, and I think we have had everyone from children to elderly parishioners taking part,” Ms Keaveney said after the last car left.
Parish priest Fr Paddy Mooney said he came up with the idea in discussions with his pastoral council, after he heard about an initiative taken by Bishop of Killaloe Fr Fintan Monahan to offer confessions in a shopping centre in Ennis, Co Clare.
‘Ashes to go’ are a regular event in Catholic parishes in north America, and Fr Mooney felt a “drive through” from 8am to 9.30am outside his church might suit the large number of people with school-going children and commuters.
Glenamaddy parish numbers 1,500, extending as far as the borders of Williamstown and Dunmore, with two primary schools and a secondary school with 420 pupils.
The parish newsletter appealed to those who “may be sick, find it difficult to walk, people on their way to work, or families on their way to school”.
“If you are unable to attend Mass you can come here, receive your Ashes without having to leave your car,”it said.
Three members of his pastoral council assisted with annointing ashes to several hundred foreheads, before Fr Mooney left for mass in Williamstown at 10am.