Residents of a remote Irish island have had their prayers answered when it was confirmed they would have a priest to celebrate Christmas Mass.
Fr Kieran Creagh had spent more than four years living on Tory
Island, nine miles off the coast of County Donegal, but was reassigned
Since then, the island’s 150-strong community has been without a
full-time clergyman, even though temporary arrangements have since been
in place for a substitute Catholic priest to be ferried over to the isle
Although the Diocese of Raphoe still has not assigned a permanent
replacement priest for the island, residents expressed relief on
learning that arrangements had been made for a priest to travel from the
mainland to celebrate Christmas Mass.
Patsy Dan Rodgers, nicknamed the “king of Tory,” said he was delighted with the news.
“We miss not having a full-time priest over here and were sad to see
Fr Creagh leave,” he said. “But we’ve been lucky enough to have had
cover on the island for Sunday Mass ever since, and we’re extremely
grateful for this, because priests are so scarce these days.”
“Christmas on Tory Island is like nowhere else. It starts on December
23 when Santa is flown over here in a helicopter. It’s a magical
occasion for the children here, because he arrives with gifts.
“There’s another tradition which goes on here on Christmas Eve, where
the older people are given gifts, like boxes of chocolates. And then of
course, there’s the Christmas Mass, which is hugely important to us
Rodgers, 72, who makes a point of personally greeting every passenger
ferry that lands on the three-mile-long island, said religion still
plays as important a role in the community as the flourishing Irish
He said the remnants of a sixth-century monastery, founded by
St Columba, demonstrate the outpost’s strong Christian tradition.