O’Moore Park has seen a lot over the years but hundreds of children from the Portlaoise parish receiving their confirmation there on Saturday was certainly a new one.
Due to the large volume of children to be confirmed from the schools in Portlaoise, as well as from Ratheniska and The Heath, and the restrictions on how many could be in the church at any one time, it was decided to host the confirmations in the home of Laois GAA.
It meant that almost 400 students, from the seven schools in the parish, as well as their parents and sponsors were in the grounds for what was an historic and novel occasion.
For those who were there, it’s a story they can tell for years. Parents suited and booted in the stand in O’Moore Park, the alter on the pitch, a bishop and six priests on duty and students from Portlaoise CBS and Scoil Chríost Rí acting as stewards.
Students from Holy Family, Gaelscoil Phortlaoise, The Heath NS, Ratheniska, Scoil Bhríd, Educate Together and Maryborough NS were among those confirmed.
Thankfully for all concerned, the rain not only stayed away but the sun shone brightly.
This confirmations in Portlaoise follows on from a similar approach in Kilkenny last week which was hosted in Nowlan Park.
And it was an efficient service too – all done in not much longer than an hour.
“What a joy to be here today,” said Bishop Denis Nulty in his address.
“I welcome you to this iconic place that holds a special place in every Laois person’s heart.”
As well as Bishop Nulty, six priests, including Monsignor John Byrne were on hand to confirm the children, most of whom have now moved on to secondary education.
“One parish, seven schools, 361 young people .. after many rescheduling and resetting of dates, you are most welcome.
“A ceremony in extraordinary times … it has been a pandemic that has unsettled society of its regular routines, a pandemic that has caused all of us to think and do things differently, like we’re doing today.
“We’re celebrating the sacrament of confirmation in the most ventilated space we could find.”
You can check out a selection of photos posted by Portlaoise Parish on social media.