Remembering tales of apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Ireland on the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception. 

Today marks the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception, December 8. The meaning given behind the religious day of obligation, according to the teaching of the Catholic Church, is that this day marked the conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the womb of her mother, Saint Anne, free from original sin by virtue of the foreseen merits of her son Jesus Christ.

In Ireland until quite recently, December 8 was a major feast day and all schools would close. It was also traditionally when people would start their Christmas shopping and towns and cities began to bustle with the feeling of festivities in the air.

Read more: Did the Virgin Mary appear at Knock this weekend?

To mark the more religious aspect of the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception, here’s a list of some of the reported religious apparitions from Ireland:

Virgin and Child on stump in Rathkeale, Limerick

Image: iStock

Image: iStock

Legend has it that a female specter which haunted the churchyard in Rathkeale, Limerick, was so terrifying that all who looked upon her died soon after. A local man banished the ghost by slicing off her arm with his sword and praying for the rest of the night. In an odd coincidence in 2009, the Limerick Newsire reported that a tree stump in the churchyard contains the image of the Virgin Mary and Child, and that hundreds of visitors had come to the area to pray.

Weeping Statue in Dungloe at the Kerrytown shrine in Donegal (2009)

Image: iStock

Image: iStock

The Independent reports that on September 29, 2009, fourteen people claimed to witness crosses that formed in the sky above the shrine, before the statue became animated and began to weep. The shrine had become a popular site after producing a religious apparition seventy years ago.

Kerrytown, Donegal (1939)

Image: iStock

Image: iStock

Perhaps further supporting the 2009 visions in Dungloe, visions were reported here in 1939 also. An apparition of the Virgin Mary appeared on a dark knight to be shining bright on a nearby granite rock.

Rocking Virgin Mary at Ballinspittle grotto in Cork

Image: iStock

Image: iStock

Cathy O'Mahony and her mother observed the statue of the Virgin Mary rocking on its heels on July 22 1985. The following night they returned with friends who observed the same event. Since this time, tens of thousands of people have visited the shrine in the hope of seeing something. The Independent reports more recently that O’Mahony stands by her observations, despite others ridiculing her.

Read more: Knock Blessed Virgin visionary to be reburied at old St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NY

Knock Shrine in Knock, Mayo

The Knock Shrine Basilica.

The Knock Shrine Basilica.

Arguably the most famous of Irish apparitions, the Knock Shrine vision occurred on August 21, 1879 at about 8 o'clock. Our Lady, St. Joseph, and St. John the Evangelist appeared in a blaze of Heavenly light at the south gable of Knock Parish Church in Mayo. The site is now a largely visited spot for devout Catholics.

Carns Grotto in Sligo

Image: iStock

Image: iStock

In 1985, four teenage girls reportedly saw a vision of Our Lady and St. Bernadette on a west Sligo road, which had the effect of feeling what they say was like “an electric shock” on their bodies. A shrine has since been built at the Carns Grotto site, and the four women remain steadfast in their belief of what they saw that evening.

Ardboe in Tyrone

Image: iStock

Image: iStock

In August 1954, Teresa Grimes saw a vision of the Virgin Mary in a nearby bush. In the days following, women in Antrim also reported seeing visions of the Virgin. Crowds flocked to the area for the Immaculate Conception that December.

Melleray Grotto in Waterford

Image: iStock

Image: iStock

In 1985, a local teenager, Ursula O’Rourke, said the Blessed Virgin appeared to her and delivered to her several messages. During the following days, several other people saw apparitions at the site and received similar messages as Ursula.

Read more: Listen to a wonderful version of "Our Lady of Knock"

Visions of the Virgin Mary in Bessbrook, Armagh

Image: iStock

Image: iStock

In 1987, teenager Mark Trainor and housewife Beulah Lynch began to have visions of the Virgin Mary at the Lady of Lourdes shrine in Bessbrook, Armagh. Similar to Melleray Grotto, the visions continued during the next several days, and messages were delivered to seers there.

Eamon de Valera’s vision of Christ

Eamon de Valera.

Eamon de Valera.

In 2010, a biography of Eamon de Valera reported that the former Irish president had a vision of Christ at Blackrock College in 1928, two years after he founded Fianna Fáil.

Do you still upload the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception as a holy day of obligation?  Will you be carrying on the tradition of getting a start on your Christmas shopping or is it just another normal day? 

* Originally published in 2016.

Tmp-inhouse-promo-articles

Marking the feast day of the Immaculate Conception by remembering tales of apparitions in Ireland.iStock