May ‘Rosary crusade’ begins at gold mine site in Greencastle

An eight-foot statue of the Virgin Mary has appeared alongside a cross at the site of an historic penal Mass Rock on a gold mine site in Greencastle
An eight-foot statue of the Virgin Mary has appeared alongside a cross at the site of an historic penal Mass Rock on a gold mine site in Greencastle

Scores of people joined in prayer at a Greencastle Mass Rock that parishioners were last year denied access to by a Canadian gold mining firm.

Organised by local Hibernians, the Greencastle Rosary Crusade is to take place at the holy site every night throughout the month of May.

The new religious effigies light up at night

The new religious effigies light up at night

While just last week, a statue of the Virgin Mary and a cross appeared overnight beside the historic Mass Rock.

Bishop Donal McKeown joined parishioners on an annual pilgrimage around three penal Mass Rocks in the Greencastle area from 2012-2014.

But last October, the Irish News reported that Dalradian Gold refused a local priest permission for a service at the Mass rock on Crockanboy Hill, Mullydoo Road, Greencastle.

Mass Rocks acted as altars for priests saying Catholic Mass when it was made illegal during penal times. And, if the one on Crockanboy Hill was not clearly marked out before, now an eight foot statue of Mary and a large cross ensure it won’t be missed.

It is still unclear who installed the religious effigies, but a local man said the first May rosary took place without incident.

Locals also say the site on which the Mass Rock stands could be swallowed up by a pond at the processing plant Dalradian want to build if granted permission for a mine.

The company say the mine will bring hundreds of jobs to the area, but some locals have voiced concerns over the project, saying they are worried about the possible environmental and health impacts.

Former Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard said any application for a mine at the site would be subject to an independent public inquiry.

Dalradian Gold did not respond to a request for a comment on the statue of Mary and the May rosaries, by the time of going to print.

*This article has been amended as it has come to light that Bishop Donal McKeown didn’t say Mass at the Mass Rock on Mullydoo Road (part of which is known locally as the Green Road).