St Manchan’s Shrine will this Sunday return to Boher Church.
The precious shrine that dates back to the 12th century was stolen from the church almost two years ago, on June 1, 2012. Though it was recovered soon after, its return to the church was dependent on security measures including CCTV, an alarm system and a special secure casing.
Costing something in the region of €70,000, the security required to allow the shrine to return home has now been completed and anticipation is building in the parish of Leamonaghan ahead of Sunday’s celebration.
“There’s a great sense of expectation,” Fr James McKiernan explained. “Parishioners were greatly aggrieved when it was stolen, so they’re really looking forward now to having it back and having it on display in the church where people can freely see it any day of the week.”
Ensuring the shrine’s return to the parish was paramount, he continued.
“It’s very personal to the local community,” he explained. “St Manchan lived among them and preached among them. They have been guardians of the shrine since it was constructed in the 12th century. It has always been in the community and it would be an awful pity if it was not returned to its rightful home, which I believe is St Manchan’s Church.”
Sunday’s festivities will begin at 2.45pm, when the shrine will be met by parishioners at St Manchan’s School. Clara Town Band will then lead a procession to the church, which will be greeted there by Bishop Francis Duffy. The shrine will sit before the altar for the duration of Mass, before being placed in its new casing. Festivities will continue in the church grounds, with music and activities for children.
“We’re expecting a big turnout,” Fr James said. “It’ll be a real party atmosphere to celebrate the occasion.”
Already €50,000 has been raised for the project thanks to a local collection and generous donations from Offaly Historical and Archaeological Society and other private donors. A local collection will continue into the future to meet costs, while Fr James said donations from any other interested persons will also be gratefully received.