Cork’s first Christmas Tree Festival was held from 2nd to 4th December in the Church of Ireland Parish of Carrigrohane Union, based at the three parish churches: St Peter’s, Carrigrohane, St Senan’s, Inniscarra and The Church of the Resurrection, Blarney. It was a wonderful and very happy venture.
Each church had a Prayer Tree (Redeemer, Treasure and Immanuel trees) – with shapes for people to write their own prayer and decorate the trees. Extra shapes had to be made each day as so many people took this opportunity to pray! Each church also had a Giving Tree (Poverty, Myrrh and Fruit trees) – with an opportunity for people to bring gifts of non-perishable foodstuffs for St Vincent de Paul. There was also a ‘homeless’ tree outside each church – which stopped many of people in their tracks on the way in – and a Refugee tree outside St Senan’s which included a deflated dinghy.
Approximately a thousand people attended the weekend, including the very special occasion of the opening on 1 December in St Senan’s to which all participants, sponsors and parishioners were invited.
Groups and individuals from the parish, from local schools, businesses and community groups decorated or created the 60 trees that filled the 3 buildings – basing their decoration around a Bible verse that each had been allocated. So the trees themselves told the story of Christmas! It was such an inspiration, blessing and a help to have so many people, from across the parish and right across the community, involved.
Many people visited all 3 churches, some arriving to their first venue intending that to be the only one they visited, but decided they had to find time to get to the others before closing time! Every church was gorgeous – and each one had its own feel and atmosphere.
Music (some recorded and lots of ‘live’ musicians giving so generously of their time and talents) was enjoyed in the background and a cuppa was available to enjoy along the way. Each church also had a ‘sheep hunt’ – with 10 sheep (many knitted!) hiding. Children had a sheet to complete with the names of the hidden sheep – and a couple of golden chocolate coins as a reward at the end of each hunt.
Some of the trees made people smile, some brought forth gasps of admiration and amazement, some were reflective and still others were moving and poignant. The Festival was like harnessing the glitz and bringing everyone right to the heart of the real Good News of Christmas.
Here is the gallery of photographs of the Christmas Tree Festival: