By Lucy Wall-Murphy

The Streams of Bunclody

Fairdays in Bunclody


The Moss-House
and the Bridge Meadow

The Island Hunt and
 Golf Links

The Sawdust Stoves

The Corpus Christi Procession

The Beauties of Bunclody

The Pathway around by Carrhill

Trades and occupations in
Irish Street

The Well in the Wood

Changes in Irish Street

The Corpus Christi Procession in Bunclody

The Eucharistic procession on the Feast of Corpus Christi was a big event in Bunclody, with crowds of people from the surrounding districts coming into the town. The procession took place in the grounds of St Mary’s Convent, moving from the parish church of St Mary Magdalene and proceeding up the convent avenue. St Cecilia’s Brass and Reed Band played the music of the hymns which were sung by the choirs, ‘Lauda Sion Salvatorem’ being one of the marching hymns.

Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament was imparted at an altar erected at a point about half-way along the main school building, and then the procession continued as far as the veranda (—the buildings and veranda have been removed and replaced by the present school and convent buildings—) where a second Benediction was given. Returning to the church, the third and final Benediction was given, and the exercise usually concluded with a spirited rendering of the hymn ‘Faith of Our Fathers’. During the procession the Rosary was recited.

In the girls’ school where the pupils would be preparing to take part, they would be led by the late Mother Veronica, the principal of the Girls’ National School, in continually reciting a prayer: ‘0 Sacred Heart, 0 Heart divine, keep off the rain and make it fine!’

Taking part in the procession were the nuns and the lay sisters from the convent. There was a large number in the community those years. Also taking part were the Children of Mary in their blue cloaks and white veils, members of the Mens’ and Womens’ Confraternities, the boarders from the convent school, school children from the various schools and the general public. Children with baskets of flower petals walked in front of the Blessed Sacrament strewing the petals. All the sections carried banners. The members of the Mens’ Confraternity all wore red sashes. In the town beforehand, there would be one or two selling badges and rosettes which people would wear. Procession Day was an occasion for the ladies of the locality to display their new hats and outfits. One non- Catholic lady remarked sarcastically that it was ‘the Newtownbarry Ascot’!

Afterwards the streets of the town would be crowded. All the sweet shops opened on Procession Day and hired extra staff. No child or adult went home without getting an ice-cream. Ice-cream shops in particular would be crowded with customers. Some shopkeepers would have got in a supply of ‘lucky-bags’ and trinkets that would be brought by the children. The people from the surrounding districts did not go home immediately but would remain in the town all evening meeting and chatting with their friends.

In more recent years the procession was held through the streets of the town, varying the route from one year to the next, with Benediction being given in the grounds of Our Lady of Lourdes National School, but at present the procession is confined to the grounds of Holy Trinity Church and the priest’s garden, with Benediction given at the end in front of the entrance to the church.