Looking back to Holy Week and Easter Day in Cork, Cloyne and Ross

The Octave of Easter – the eight days starting with Easter Day which introduce the 50 days of Easter celebrations – comes to an end on the second Sunday of Easter, known also as Low Sunday. These days give us an opportunity to look back at our Christian pilgrimage in recent months.

Easter Week 2021 in Cork

In spite of the level 5 pandemic restrictions, Lent, Holy Week and Easter were a splash of imagination, reflective spiritual and thoughtful liturgies in Cork, Cloyne and Ross.

Bishop Paul Colton said:

I want to thank everyone in the Diocese for the many and varied ways they faithfully and imaginatively journeyed through Lent, Holy Week and celebrated Easter Day this year. There was a lot of ingenuity and everyone put in a lot of hard work and effort. I’m now in my twenty-third year as Bishop of the Diocese and never before have I received so many messages, – emails, cards, letters – from people asking me to pass on their appreciation and gratitude for everything that was done for Holy Week and Easter, both online and through pastoral contact in the Diocese. It has all been very much appreciated and, to those messages, I add my thanks to everyone.

Lent and Holy Week ‘On the Gate’

With church buildings closed for public worship, some parishes found ways to draw people into the Christian disciplines and celebrations by reflecting the seasons on the street, such as on on their gates in images and prayers. One such parish was Cloyne Union in East Cork. The experiment worked well there in Advent and so it was repeated in Lent, Holy Week and at Easter. The parish kindly gave permission to the Diocese to use them throughout the recent seasons also. Here they are – first Lent, and then Holy Week and Easter.

Setting the scene for Holy Week and Easter

Two groups of young people in Cork, Cloyne and Ross set the scene for Holy Week and Easter: sixth year students from second level schools read the Passion Gospel and the members of the Cork Diocesan Youth Council created 5 ZOOM dramas/dialogues entitled ‘Unmuted: what they said about Jesus’. They were joined by the Bishop who set the scene by retelling the story of Holy Week and Easter using the windows from Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork. Parishes from Gougane Barra to Cork created on an online pilgrimage in the steps of Saint Fin Barre.

The Passion Gospel

Led by their school chaplains – Drew Ruttle (Ashton School), the Reverend Anne Skuse (Bandon Grammar School) and Canon Andrew Orr (Midleton College) – sixth year students of the three second level schools associated with the Diocese recorded the traditional reading of the full Passion Gospel; this year as told by Saint Mark. You may still view it HERE

‘Unmuted: What they said about Jesus’ – a ZOOM drama in 5 episodes with a contemporary twist

The young people of CDYC (Cork Diocesan Youth Council) spent the first three months of the year in ZOOM groups writing and putting together dramatic dialogues to tell the story of Holy Week and Easter. Entitled ‘Unmuted’, the drama is the Easter story from the point of view from the the Pharisees, the Crowd, Jesus’ followers and the Roman Soldiers, all with a modern day element!

You can still view the episodes at these links:

Episode 1

Where’s the donkey? Click HERE

Episode 2

Who’s in charge here? Click HERE

Episode 3

When he said, it he meant it Click HERE

Episode 4

Why is this one different? Click HERE

Easter Day, 4th April from 8 a.m.

What now? Click HERE

The Bishop told the Story of Holy Week and Easter using the Stained Glass Windows of Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral

The Bishop, Dr Paul Colton, returned to Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral in this its 150th anniversary year to tell the story of Holy Week and Easter using the stained glass windows in the Cathedral. The message was viewed by all school children and second level students and school staff in the Diocese before the end of term and by many others since.

You may still visit the Holy Week and Easter windows with Bishop Colton HERE

Holy Week Pilgrimage

A number of parishes in the Diocese collaborated within the Level 5 restrictions to retrace the steps of Saint Fin Barre (in this 150th anniversary year of St Fin Barre’s Cathedral) from the place of his monastery at Gougane Barra (and the source of the River Lee) to the Cathedral in Cork City.

It was entitled ‘The Way of the Cross with Saint Fin Barre: from Gougane Barra to Cork’.

You may still join that pilgrimage HERE

Palm Sunday

In Kilgariffe Union of Parishes, Coco the donkey was up early at 6 a.m. on Palm Sunday and was brought on a tour of the town while the story of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem was retold and committed to video for use later in the day.

Palm crosses were available for collection at the gates of a number of churches or in church buildings that were open for private prayer.

At Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork the entrance gates were again decorated with palm crosses – an emerging popular tradition because in 2020, at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, passers-by assumed, at first, that this was an impromptu memorial to those who had already died of Covid-19 around the world.

Many of the online liturgies incorporated the annual blessing of the palm crosses on Palm Sunday.

Children in Holy Week

The Children’s Ministry Group in the Diocese provided parishes with resources for children during Lent, Holy Week and Easter, and many parishes created opportunities for children’s activities online and at home. For example, in Carrigaline Union of Parishes there was an online crafts workshop:

Maundy Thursday

The first liturgy of Maundy Thursday in the Diocese is usually the Chrism Eucharist held in Saint Fachtna’s Cathedral, Rosscarbery. That was impossible again this year but the Bishop created an online Service during which there was the opportunity for people to renew their commitment to ministry, and the oils for use in ministry were blessed.

People from around the Diocese tuned in on Maundy Thursday to the Chrism Eucharist online. By Low Sunday 462 households had viewed it on the Diocesan YouTube Channel.

You may still view it HERE

The Eucharist of the Lord’s Supper

Throughout the Diocese on Maundy Thursday, the Eucharist of the Lord’s Supper was held online and broadcast, following which the stripping of the altars took place and vigil was kept.


The ancient Service of Tenebrae – a Service of Shadows – was available online for those who wanted to keep vigil into the night on Maundy Thursday, waiting for Good Friday.

That liturgy is still on the YouTube Channel HERE

Good Friday

The Liturgy of Good Friday with the proclamation of the cross is typically stark.

Good Friday in Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork

In addition to the Passion Gospel and pilgrimage already mentioned, the Stations of the Cross were available online again this year especially for use on Good Friday.

You can still view those HERE

In one parish, Carrigaline Union, the parish drama group re-enacted the story of Good Friday online, and in their outdoor representation of the story, the unfolding Easter Garden focussed on the crosses on Golgotha.

Easter Eve

Easter Eve – the Saturday known also as Holy Saturday – is a day of quiet waiting. For the first disciples it was a day of nothingness, grief and terror. When darkness fell churches began to keep vigil and the first hints of Easter light and proclamation began to glimmer.

Light through the darkness of the night

As they did last year, a number of churches, while closed for public worship, left their lights on after the Easter Eve proclamation of ‘The Light of Christ’ as a signal of Easter hope and joy to the surrounding communities.

Easter Day

Easter Dawn

Easter Dawn 2021 in Cork
Easter dawn at Templebreedy in 2021: the entrance to Cork Harbour

Dawn Services

Some parishes broadcast Easter Dawn Services online for people to join.

Sun-Up on the Beach – but not this year

Each Easter the Cork Diocesan Youth Council and their friends usually meet at dawn on the Warren Beach near Rosscarbery where the Dean of Ross celebrates Holy Communion for them and then they have a barbecue breakfast afterwards. This year, once again, it was all online, but many got up early to celebrate.

Easter Dawn in West Cork

700 Year Old Easter Sepulchre in Youghal

You can read about the traditions associated with the 700 year old Easter sepulchre in the Collegiate Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, Youghal, County Cork HERE

Christ is risen!

Easter Day at Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork

Easter Gardens

Easter gardens of all varieties continued to be a bright and wonderful tradition throughout the Diocese in 2021.

Easter Crosses

The stark crosses of Good Friday made way for beautifully decorated crosses on Easter Day, many also with the traditional white cloth to represent the resurrection. ‘He is not here. He is risen!’

A Beautiful Easter Day 2021 in Cork

It was a beautiful Easter Day this year. A number of churches remained open throughout the day for personal prayer.

Cathedral Choristers Online

Easter Day was tuneful too. Having been only able to rehearse at home for the last year, the young choristers of Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork recorded ‘This joyful Eastertide’ at home – a difficult thing to do – and then their individual recordings were amalgamated to create one performance. This was the final offering of Easter Day in the Diocese first broadcast at 1 p.m. and sending us into the Easter season with a spring in our step.

You can view it and listen to it HERE

Choristers of Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral sing online from their homes

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