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Fr Tom McGrath celebrating mass at Aylroe.

The infants of Aylroe cillín remembred

History was made in West Clare last weekend last when mass was celebrated for the first time in Aylroe cillín, the infants burial place on the hill overlooking the Shannon Estuary.

The mass was celebrated by retired Mill Hill Missionary, Fr Tom McGrath, a native Labasheeda, who is attached to the Kilmurry McMcMahon-Labasheeda parish. There was a large attendance of locals and people from surrounding areas at the mass, which was at the request of the landowner, Professor Michael Hayes, who organised it with Pat Clancy.

All were welcomed to the mass by Fr McGrath, who spent 40 years with the Mill Hill Missionary Fathers in western Kenya.

The cillín, or chidren’s burial ground on the Hill of Aylroe, contains in excess of 100 children’s graves, all unidentified, going back centuries.

The ground is overgrown with gorse and furze and is overlooking the River Shannon. Fr McGrath thanked the attendance and had special prayers for the unbaptised children, the forgotten and abandoned.

A local parishoner said Fr McGrath was to be praised for his great work as a priest, his meaningful homilies and administration of God’s sacraments.

Aylroe is the location of the song, The Hills of Aylroe.

“I dreamt that I strayed by sweet Goleen and looked on Rinealon Bay.

I thought what I saw could not live in a dream, so vivid and grand a display.

I stood on the ledge of a towering cliff enjoying a most beautiful view, below me the blue waves of Shannon rolled and above were the Hills of Aylroe.”

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