Irish-language choir stages protest after being cut out of Masses

‘After 50 years that was that. No consultation, no words of regret, no thanks’ – Dublin choir

A lay Irish-language Mass group sang hymns outside a Catholic diocesan event in Dublin on Thursday evening in protest at what they claim is their exclusion from their local parish for the past 18 months.

Pobal Aifreann Dhún Laoghaire staged the protest at Holy Cross College Clonliffe in Drumcondra, Dublin, before the launch of a booklet of music for Irish-language Masses, Canaimis – Ceol don Aifreann, edited by Fr Paul Kenny, parish priest in Dún Laoghaire, south Dublin.

“The very same Fr Paul Kenny who abolished the Irish-language Mass in his own parish,” as Pauline Uí Argáin, director of the Irish-language choir at Dún Laoghaire, put it.

“We are not natural protesters. We are a church choir. We have spent a year and a half writing letters and seeking meetings. The parish priest has refused to meet us. We feel let down and hurt by the way we have been treated by the parish priest and by the archdiocese,” she said.


‘No thanks’

For 50 years, Pobal Aifreann Dhún Laoghaire organised an Irish-language Mass in St Michael’s parish church there. They also organised Mass readings and Prayers of the Faithful, as well as supporting priests who needed help with Irish.

However, in the summer of 2017, Fr Kenny “suddenly ended the Irish-language Mass. And after 50 years that was that. No consultation, no words of regret, no thanks or acknowledgment for all the years of loyal service to the parish,” the group said in a statement.

It said it had also written many letters to Archbishop Diarmuid Martin “to no avail”.

Ms Uí Argáin said "the publication of Canaimis – Ceol don Aifreann was the final straw". It was just " window dressing to show that the official church is supportive of the Mass in Irish, when the reality on the ground in our experience is the opposite", she said.

Fr Kenny has made no comment on the matter but a spokeswoman for Dublin’s archdiocese said its Coiste Tréadach, which advises on pastoral ministry to Irish speakers, had met members of Pobal Aifrinn Dhún Laoghaire “on a number of occasions and remains hopeful a resolution can be found in due course”.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times