By John Mulcahy
For almost 100 years the Sodalities founded by the Sisters of Charity played a prominent part in the spiritual life of the community. Here is their story, told in the words of the convent annals.
Children of Mary
The late Mrs. Mahony having long wished our Sisters to establish a Sodality of Our Lady for the factory girls, permission was obtained from the Parish Priest and the first meeting was held on the 31st July, at which about 50 girls attended. A little later, the Bishop, Most Rev. Dr. McCarthy, wrote a very kind letter in reply to our asking for permission to have the Sodality affiliated to the ‘Prima Primaria’ in Rome, and sent his blessing, adding that a Sodality of the kind could not fail to be productive of much spiritual good to the young women employees in the factory.
On November 20th 1892, 52 members received St. Joseph’s ribbon, having attended faithfully the weekly meetings for some months previously. On Easter Sunday 1893, a second
set of 28 members received St. Joseph’s ribbon, and on 2nd August, 6 members received it privately.
On 5th April 1893 the Diploma of Affiliation to the Prima Primaria was received from the General of the Jesuits then is Spain, through Fr. Alfred Murphy, Assistant Provincial in Ireland. The Diploma dates from Easter Sunday 1893, the title of the Sodality being that of the Immaculate Conception. On April5th, Sodalist who was starting next day for America, was received a Child of Mary by the Director Rev. M. O’Callaghan C.C. On October 22nd 1893, 54 members were consecrated Children of Mary by the Director.
At the beginning of 1894 a Sodality for little girls under 14 was established, under the title of Sodality of the Holy Angels. It is held every Saturday and attended by from 70 to 80 members.
In February 1897 a Sodality for little boys was started under the title of Sodality of St. Aloysius. They attend every Saturday and number from 60 to 70.
There has been established a General Communion on the third Sunday of each month for the Children of Mary and each member wears her blue ribbon. Processions take place in the ground
s of the Convent during the month of May.
Towards the end of July 1901, Mrs. F. Mahony gave the Children of Mary their first tea party. About 100 were present. The tables were laid in the grove and were nicely decorated. The tea was served at 7 o’clock. Mrs. Mahony and her friends helped the Sisters to supply the wants of all. During tea the Canon sent for the band which added much to the enjoyment of the party.
During the Christmas holidays 1904 a concert was given to the Children of Mary. Mr., Mrs., and Miss Cecil Mahony kindly came to sing and play. Mother M. Anastasia sent some of her teachers who helped to make the concert a great success.
On March 15th 1908 34 candidates were admitted to the Sodality and on 12th July 17 girls were consecrated Children of Mary in the presence of Dr. Prendergast, Bishop of Philadelphia, Monsignor Hynan, Dr. Heusen and Dr. Clarke, all from America. After Benediction, Dr. Prendergast delivered an address in which he put before the girls the danger and hardships in store for those who leave Ireland to earn their bread in America, and advised them to stay at home.
Cloghroe and Whitechurch
At the request of Fr. O’Connell C.C. Cloghroe, Mother Rectress undertook to establish and direct a Sodality of Children of Mary in his parish. The first meeting was held on June 12th 1912 at which there were thirty girls present. In November 1912, 41 girls received green ribbons and 17 Sodalists were enrolled. They met once a fortnight in the village reading room but the accommodation was soon insufficient and meetings were held in Cloghroe Church. The Sisters leave the Convent at 3 p.m. and the meeting begins at 3.30 p.m. At the request of Canon Barrett the Sisters undertook to establish and direct a Sodality of Our Lady in Whitechurch. The first meeting was held on Whit Monday 1918. The Canon presided and 60 members were enrolled. Meetings were held in the school every second Sunday. In January 1925 the meetings were transferred to the church and held on the fourth Sunday. This was also the year that the May procession was inaugurated in Whitechurch.
A club for girls was opened in Blarney on Sunday nights. Meetings took place from 6.45 p.m. to 9.30 p.m. and the activities were singing, dancing and reciting. This club was started
to counteract the all-night dances held in the picture hall on Sunday nights after the pictures. The Sodality girls responded very well and discontinued going to the dances in the hall. No boys were admitted to the Sodality Club, although they asked several times.
In 1925 a dramatic class was started and a second class for juniors was started in 1926. Both classes added very much to the club as they give two or three entertainments each year, one for the club expenses and the other for charitable purposes. They get a tea party at the opening of the club in October and closing at the end of May after their annual retreat. A piano was presented to the club by a friend. Around 1932 the Sodalities undertook the task of circulating Catholic literature and newspapers.
In June 1934 an arrangement was made for a pilgrimage of all the Children of Mary of Ireland to go to Lourdes. The Sodality girls were full of it but as the majority of them work in the factory they were wondering if they could ever spare enough money to enable them to go. As time went on they became more enthusiastic and finally eight decided to start for Lourdes. They all came to the Convent to be photographed before leaving and they were the picture of happiness, each wearing cloak, veil and medal. Each brought back some little souvenir to the nuns and they also brought a holy water font for the Oratory as a memento of their first visit to Lourdes.
Married Mothers’ Sodality
give no date for the establishment of the mothers’ sodality but it notes in 1953 that they are now wearing grey cloaks and veils of dark blue chiffon. The Sodality organised a pilgrimage to Lourdes under the leadership of Fr. Cusack in Sept 1976. In 1980 they travelled again, this time to Rome. Sisters from the Convent accompanied them on each occasion.
In March 1909 the first quarterly meeting of the Pioneer Total Abstinence League was held. Rev. Fr. Dineen presided and gave a very stirring instruction on the evils and dangers of intemperance. There were 74 present and 20 new members were admitted.
A juvenile branch of Pioneers was established in January 1914. In February the numbers enrolled came to 552. The necessity now became evident for Council meetings in connection with the Pioneer movement. A good working Council of six members being chosen, they met every Friday to discuss the advisability of receiving or rejecting ‘would-be’ Pioneers. In 1917 a juvenile branch was established in Waterloo. Branches were also established in Whitechurch and Rathpeacon.
On June 20th 1926 Mr. Lang gave an impressive lecture to the Pioneer Association which since troubled times had ceased to hold their meetings. Ever since, it is progressing very favourably. At 14 years many of the boys and girls go to the mill, if they are not got into the Association immediately, they run the risk of breaking their Temperance Pledge. The children in Blarney,
Whitechurch, Waterloo, and Rathpeacon are enrolled in the Temperance Pledge when they make their First Communion. On the 15th June 1930 the Blarney Pioneers went on a trip to Killarney for eight hours and were entertained there by the Artane Boys Band.
Legion of Mary
A girls praesidium of the Legion of Mary was established in March 1964, there being already a men’s praesidium in the village. The Golden Jubilee of the Legion was celebrated in Blarney in Oct. 17th 1971, the Bishop and eleven priests concelebrating Mass in the Church.
On Sodality Day in May 1954, the Sodalities from Cloghroe and Whitechurch were invited by the Blarney Sodality to a garden party and joint get together after an impressive procession through the village.
In June 1964 the first Corpus Christi procession was held in Blarney. It was organised by the Sodality and the male members of the Legion of Mary. It was a highly devotional occasion in which almost every member and organisation of the parish took part.