The 29th of September 1975, the feast of St. Michael, was the parish feastday. It was chosen for the reconsecration of the Abbey, the new altar and tabernacle.
At 11am Archbishop Morris ﬁrst blessed the outside of the church and then with his crozier he knocked on the solid west door asking for it to be opened. Paddy Fogarty, the clerk of works, had the honour of opening the great oak door and the Archbishop was followed into the Abbey by the crowd who had assembled outside.
During the consecration of the altar relics of the saints were inserted into ﬁve cavities in the surface. It is important to note that the relics included those of Blessed Oliver Plunkett who was executed for the Faith in 1681 in Tyburn, London. He was canonised a saint almost two weeks later in Rome. At the Mass which followed the reconsecration the local choir were in ﬁne voice.
Their repertoire included some gregorian chant, so appropriate for the occasion. At the offertory procession the gifts included a stone mason’s hammer and trowel, architect’s drawing tools, a carpenter’s hammer and chisel as well as the bread and wine.
All through the next week Telifís Éireann were interviewing and recording in and around the Abbey on the lead up to the great ofﬁcial opening. Many reports and interviews were broadcast through the week. William J. Hayes himself was deservedly included and three talks by him were televised that week. The ofﬁcial opening was scheduled for Sunday 5th October. The digitaries included Cardinal T. Manning of Los Angeles who was born in Cork. He was a noted preacher. Also invited were the Papal Nuncio, The Bishop of Waterford, Dr. Ml Russell and many other bishops. Rt. Rev. John W. Armstrong, Bishop of Cashel and Canon Harden Johnstone represented the Church of Ireland. The President C. Ó Dálaigh was invited to read the second lesson. For many the highpoint of the Mass was the singing of the ‘Sanctus’ by the Cistercian monks.
TV monitors had been set up in the cloister for the hundreds standing in the rain. They stood in silence as the great 15thcentury bell tolled to announce the consecration of the Mass. A large marquee was erected for the formal speeches and refreshments in the parochial ﬁeld following the solemn Mass. The efﬁcient and seamless manner in which the volunteer stewards, guides and caterers steered the proceedings was testament to the marvellous planning and generosity of all involved.
Full story in this week’s Tipperary Star.