The importance of the grotto at Deerpark Mine remembered as community gathers for rosary prayer

Proudly displaying their banner of prayer, a group gather at Castlecomer to pray the rosary

Words: Kilkenny Observer

Photos: Pat Shortall

Catholics around the world planned to pray a special Rosary on Saturday, May 13th to honour Our Lady of Fatima and to beg her to intervene in the world, to stop the growing spiral of sin, revolution and violence.

The driving force behind the Worldwide Fatima Rosary on May 13 was the thought that Our Lady would be pleased to see one million people praying the Rosary all together on May 13th.

And so as you travelled around the country, many towns and villages took up the call at 4pm on May 13th and joined together as one to recite the rosary.

One such area was Castlecomer, in North Kilkenny where over twenty joined in prayer.

The Kilkenny Observer newspaper was represented and saw the significance first hand on how important the occasion was.

There was an extra special touch to the occasion as the Lady of Fatima statue was situated on the site of the Deerpark mine.

And significantly, six former miners were in attendance.

Chief organiser of the day was John Ryan, himself a miner back in the day.

John expressed his happiness and delight to see so many turn up for the occasion.

“I would have to say a word of thanks to the editor of the annual magazine ‘The Deenside’, Margaret McGrath, who informed me that the statue at the mines was in fact of our Lady of Fatima”, said John.

John, who is ‘Rosary Captain’ thanked all who attended saying that prayers were being offered for every miner who ‘bent the knee or tipped the cap’ as they passed the grotto on their way down the mine.

Former councillor Maurice Shortall said that great credit was due to those who organised the event, paying special tribute to John Ryan.

Maurice reminisced on all former miners and families of miners who endured the hard life of coal mining. “It was a job that the people of ‘Comer were glad to get and it sustained many families in the area, but conditions were tough and you got nothing easy” said the former Labour councillor.

Mr. Shortall said that great credit was due to Nixie Boran the union rep’ who helped to alleviate a lot of hardship and managed to improve working conditions.

Maurice also paid tribute to Seamus Walsh (RIP) who did incredible work for the miners and the mining community and left a wonderful legacy in Castlecomer with The Coal Mining museum at The Discovery Park.

Perhaps, this would be an apt time to remember one of Seamus Walsh’s poems:

“And yes I was proud to be a miner

And to be a miner’s son,

And I’m proud to sing their praises

And I’ll sing them ‘till I’m done.

And I’ll keep a light a- shining

In the tunnel dark and deep,

And when people talk of mining

It is of your deeds they’ll speak”

(Seamus Walsh)


Those in attendance agreed that the rosary at Deerpark in honour of Our Lady of Fatima was very special and the attendance of some of the surviving members at the prayer meeting added to the occasion.

The last word should go to the organiser John Ryan who explained that people today may not fully understand the work that miners did and the dangers encountered on a daily basis. “Remember, a lot of boys and men were going underground in the dark and coming out eight hours later in the dark” said John. He continued: “One of the best descriptions I heard on the significance of the grotto at the mine entrance was from local man Willie Joe Meally, who described the statue as ‘our Health and Safety of the day’.


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