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Holy Wells | Mass Rock | Grotto


Cratloe grotto
© Cratloe grotto

The grotto in Cratloe was opened in 1932. It was built on the initiative of Fr John Wallace, P.P. Construction began in May 1932. A site of six acres was cleared and a stone wall built around the site. Today, the Crucifixion scene, which towers above the grotto, can be clearly seen from the parish church, at the foot of the hill.

Calvary Scene at Cratloe Grotto
© Calvary Scene at Cratloe Grotto

The grotto was designed as a replica of the grotto at Lourdes. Despite difficulties with the rock, (the roof was built using reinforced concrete) the cave was constructed. On top of this cave there is a snow-white Calvary scene. The view from the top of the Grotto is very impressive and you can see the Shannon Estuary and the surrounding countryside in the distance.

Due to the height of the cave (100 feet above the road), a number of terraces were built. Along these seven terraces, there are statues of the Sacred Heart, St Joseph, St Patrick, St Brigid and St Michael the Archangel.

The sculptor of the statue of Our Lady was Mr Bernardi of Cork. This statue was placed in the right-hand side of the cave. The people of the parish did the work voluntarily at the Grotto. They would arrange the work according to townlands and each townland worked at the grotto for one day a week.

In the cave there is an altar that was once the property of Sir Vincent Nash of Limerick. There is an angel on either side of the altar. Around the cave, there are a number of cypress trees. In 1948, Dr. O'Neill, Bishop of Limerick, solemnly consecrated the Grotto. In 1955, the Stations of the Cross were donated by Fr Wallace.

Statues at the entrance to Cratloe grotto
© Statues at the entrance to Cratloe grotto

When Fr John Halpin became parish priest in 1957, he set about cleaning up the Grotto with the help of his parishioners. The grotto was renovated again in 1995 and in 1997, a plaque was unveiled at the Grotto.

During July 2000, the area leading up to and around the grotto was cleaned up. The railings, entrance gate and statues were painted. This was in preparation for the Jubilee Celebration of the Eucharist on 15th August 2000, the Feast of the Assumption.

Over 650 people from Cratloe and the surrounding parishes attended the open air Mass. Some of the older people present were heard to say that it was the largest crowd at the grotto since Fr Halpin's time.

Holy Wells | Mass Rock | Grotto

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