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A group of travellers recently set off from St Mary’s Church, Penistone, on a pilgrimage to Ireland to visit the boyhood home of Fr John Callanan.  Without Fr Callanan St Mary’s Church would not exist today as a part of St Ann’s, Deepcar.  On Sunday, 31 May the parishioners of this small South Yorkshire church celebrated 50 years of the opening of the church.

The journey to Ireland was not altogether uneventful, but after a good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast the group set off for a day’s excursion round the spectacular Ring of Kerry, revelling in the beautiful scenery.  The day’s events included a ride on the famous Jaunty Cars (horse-drawn vehicles) operated by local jarvies, who shared their own insight into Irish life and customs.  In the evening pilgrims were entertained by a local group of musicians and dancers.

Mass was celebrated the next day at the beautiful Holy Cross Priory, where there are several holy relics, including one from Pope John Paul II.

The Dingle Peninsula, where “Ryan’s Daughter” was filmed, was the next stop on the trip and proved to be as breathtaking as the scenery in Kerry; long, sandy beaches, rugged cliffs and hidden bays with the mountain range running from Slieve Mish to Mount Brandon running down its spine.  A visit to the Blasket Centre at the tip of the Peninsula gave an insight into the harsh lives of the inhabitants of the remote Blasket Islands and how they developed their language and culture.

Next morning pilgrims left Tralee in rain, heading for Rosscarbery in County Cork and nearer the focus of their pilgrimage – the home of Fr Callanan.  The sun broke through the clouds enabling everyone to enjoy the picturesque Bantry Bay.

The next day in Clonakilty, a Mass celebrating Fr Callanan’s life was held, with a moving tribute made by Pat Punt, who recounted how St Mary’s had come into being.  The group laid a wreath on Fr Callanan’s grave and were very touched to discover that Fr Callanan’s house was named ‘Deepcar’, after his parish in Yorkshire.  They enjoyed great Irish hospitality from the Callanan family, who welcomed them into their home and provided a magnificent spread of scones, cakes, chocolates and even potcheen flavoured birthday cake.  What a wonderful experience!  Some of the family were at Penistone on Sunday, 31 May for the 50th Celebrations, and enjoyed Yorkshire hospitality.

Pilgrims described the trip as an unforgettable experience and wanted to thank Fr Stan, their spiritual director and Brendan and Phyll Lally, who organised the trip.