In the strangest of years, it’s going to finish up in the strangest of ways too.
If you’re hoping to catch Christmas mass this year in Portlaoise parish you’ll have to be sharp about it and get your ticket.
Starting from this weekend’s masses you can book your ticket online. There is no charge to attend.
The parish church in Portlaoise would normally see over 10,000 people come through its doors between their Christmas eve and Christmas day masses.
In previous times, the church could accommodate about 1,600 people sitting down.
In this Coronavirus world, however, things are very different but every effort is being made to ensure as many people as possible can attend as safely as possible – with services planned for December 24, 25, 26 and 27 that will count as Christmas mass.
Previously there would have been seven Christmas mass times in Portlaoise. This year there will be 18. In Ratheniska and The Heath, which are also in the parish, there will be three Christmas masses each compared to one in other years.
Ticketing will apply in all three churches for the next two weekends and Christmas.
Ratheniska and The Heath’s attendance will be capped at 40 and 50 respectively while the size of the church in Portlaoise has meant that they have received confirmation that they can split the church into six different zones.
The number of people in each zone ranges from 22 to 42 with each zone having its own entrance and exit.
Since masses have been allowed to go ahead in recent weeks, there has been a cap of 50 people allowed. Stewards have been on the door to try ensure that that number hasn’t been broken.
Mass goers are required to wear a mask in the church and to use hand sanitizer on entry and exit.
“There has been acceptance that a church of our size can accommodate almost 200 people in six different zones in a very safe way and adhering to all social distancing,” explained Monsignor John Byrne.
“There is a whole element of personal responsibility, the same as with people going into restaurants or anywhere else. We owe it to each other to be as careful as we can.
“We will have stewards in each zone who will have a print out of the names of the people attending and they will be able to point people to their seats and will know if there are groups from the same house.
“It presents plenty of organisational challenges but we have a very good office set up and we have brought in students to help with the bookings also.
“Whether people can or can’t attend, we are urging people to stay in touch with the church. All of our Chirstmas masses will be live streamed on our website and on Facebook live and on radio.”
You can book your ticket online and will get an email confirmation. Those who aren’t computer savvy can ring the Portlaoise Parish Centre on 085 23161039 or 085 2125978 from 11am to 4pm, Monday to Thurday.
Tickets for mass on the weekend of December 19-20 and the Christmas masses will only come available from next Monday, December 14.
Portlaoise Christmas Mass Times
- Sunday: 8.30am; 10am; 11.15am; 12.30pm
- Christmas Eve: 10am; 12.30pm; 4.30pm; 6pm; 9pm
- Christmas Day: 8.30am; 10am; 12.30pm;
- December 26: 10am; 12noon (Polish Christmas Mass); 4.30pm; 6pm; 7.30pm
- December 27: 8.30am; 10am; 11.15am; 12.30pm
The Heath – 9.30am every Sunday and Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and December 27
Ratheniska – 10am every Sunday and Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and December 27