Commemoration Gaelic Mass in Hollywood, Florida Packs the Church.
This extremely well organized Gaelic Mass of Commemoration, held on Sunday March 27, 2011, was again successful and very well attended.. Hundreds filled the church as two bagpipers lead the priests down the aisle to start the emotional, yet informative, tribute to the millions who died of starvation and who left their homeland at the time of the Great Hunger in Ireland.
And it was a more than fitting tribute with the Mass being celebrated by three Priests and the church Deacon. As well as sending prayers for the Great Hunger Victims, this memorial also serves to educate all who will listen as to the reality of the circumstances surrounding this horrendous episode in the history of the Irish people.
All at the Mass were obviously eager for this opportunity to recognize the Victims – though many were still puzzled as to why the details of their plight was hidden for so long. This is where the education comes in and year after year more members of this community are learning additional details of this calamity in Irish history. The knowledge that food was being shipped out of Ireland while people were starving to death is a shock that many are still learning and trying to absorb.
It is encouraging that this education, spelling out the facts, is being continued by Marie Smith and Bill Fahey among others. The fact that Marie, together with dedicated volunteers, continues to organize this fitting tribute, and that the Priests and others in the Parish give her the help and support so that every detail is attended to, is surely welcomed by the Irish American community and all others who see so much tragedy around them. Any sign of fair play and a salute to humanity, such as this Commemoration, comes like a breath of fresh air upon them.
Details of the Mass were written up by the press, including the Miami Herald, and you can read more by Googling for articles on various websites. Marie Smith and her team of volunteers are to be applauded for the efforts that made this great day happen in our community. It is also important to know that this event has the support of all the major Irish American organizations in the area. Many traveled from other parts of South Florida to attend and were gratified to have been part of this annual Commemoration.
No commemoration for the Hunger victims would be complete without including elements of the culture left to us by the Victims and many before them. Singing and music sent a dignified message right to the Victims who know they will never be forgotten.
After Mass there was a Wake for the Victims at The Field, a local pub and restaurant, with potato soup that could have been the difference between life and death in the days of starvation all those generations ago. Representatives of various groups got to tell us their aspect relating to our Irish Heritage and the duty to continue and maintain the gifts of culture passed down to us.
It is important to remember that this Mass and Great Hunger Commemorations around the world are not some obscure tribute and in time to come they should definitely not lapse into being that – they are our way of saying thank you to our own ancestors who died to keep their Faith and the special culture of their land.