Author: By Kathryn Hayes
So far, more than 2,000 people have signed a petition seeking to prevent the
removal of the stump in Rathkeale, while scores more have turned up to say
the Rosary and light candles.
However, the local parish priest last night advised people not to worship the
tree. Fr Willie Russell said: “There’s nothing there . . . it’s just a
tree. You can’t worship a tree.”
Locals from the town organised the petition in an effort to have the tree
stump, which was due to be dug out of the ground yesterday, made into a
permanent fixture at the church.
“We have almost 2,000 signatures on the petition already and we are going
to continue getting more,” local shopkeeper Seamus Hogan said.
Mr Hogan said the discovery was bringing people from all walks of life to
Rathkeale to pray.
“It’s doing no harm and it’s bringing people together, from young and old
to black and white, Protestant and Catholic, to say a few prayers so what’s
wrong with that? There’s enough violence and intolerance going on in the
world,” he said.
According to Noel White, chairman of Rathkeale Community Council’s graveyard
committee, the trees were cut down because of old age and the danger they
posed to the adjacent school yard.
“These trees will be replaced. However, I have given assurance that our
committee will not be removing this tree stump,” he said.
“Nature has a funny way of showing things up and let it be a freak of
nature or something else but whatever it is, surely it is a wonderful thing
to see so many people coming out to pray, especially young people who have
been saying the Rosary in the church for the past few nights,” he
“There have been queues of cars up and down the street of the town all
day belonging to people who have never been here, all coming to say the
Rosary and light candles.
“Maybe this is Our Lady’s way of getting people back to the church.”
A spokesman for the Limerick diocesan office said the “Church’s response
to phenomena of this type is one of great scepticism”.
“While we do not wish in any way to detract from devotion to Our Lady, we
would also wish to avoid anything which might lead to superstition,” he
A temporary shrine was erected at the tree stump last night where a vigil was
From the Irish Independent
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