Archbishop Seán Brady as Guest of Honour at Civic Reception, Westport Town Council on Saturday 29 July 2006. Speech by Cathaoirleach of Westport Town Council, Councillor Tereasa Maguire, welcoming Archbishop Brady

29 Jul 2006


29 JULY 2006





A Cathaoirleach, Councillor Maguire, Archbishop Neary,
Members of Westport Town Council,
Ladies and Gentlemen

I thank you most sincerely for your wonderful welcome. It really was very kind of you
to decide to hold this Civic Reception on the occasion of my visit to your beautiful
town. I am deeply grateful to all of you and especially to you Councillor Maguire –
on whom, as Cathairleach – the onus fell of hosting the Reception.

I come to Westport with great joy in my heart. I am looking forward immensely to climbing
the Reek tomorrow for I know, that in doing so, I will be joining with tens of thousands
of others. We will be continuing a tradition that goes back 1,500 years to the time of
St. Patrick himself and I look forward to seeing, what William Makepeace Thackeray called,
the most beautiful view he ever saw in the world.

But, most of all, I am looking forward to what Patrick Kavanagh describes as

“The glorious, singing, laughing climb of Ireland, young in spirit and
truth, and enthusiastic in performance”.

Let us hope that we will all be singing and laughing this time tomorrow evening.

As Archbishop of Armagh I am delighted to come to a place where the memory of St. Patrick
is kept alive and honoured so wonderfully. The very names Croagh Patrick, Temple Patrick,
St. Patrick’s Chair, Tochar Phádraig, Leaba Phádraig,Casán Phadraig, Clog Dubh Phadraig,
Glosh Phadraig. They say it all, or almost all. For even more important than preserving
the names associated with St. Patrick is the Preservation of the Spirit of Patrick and
the Preservation of the Faith which Patrick brought.

I am thrilled to come to a place where the penitential exercises, dating back to St.
Patrick’s fast on the mountain, are faithfully handed down from generation to generation.
I will be humbled to join the throngs of pilgrims, some barefooted, who will climb to the
summit to pray and do the Stations with such faith and fervour and to attend Mass -–no
matter what the weather may bring.

I want to thank you, the people of Westport and of the surrounding hinterland, for the
outstanding part you play in welcoming all pilgrims. I thank you for the services which
you so generously provide, and the help which you give, to ensure that the pilgrimage is
a safe and gracefilled and memorable experience.

I am glad to be in Westport when Mayo and Armagh are champions of their respective provinces.
I hope that we all meet again in another stadium towards the end of September.

I cannot say that I know Westport very well, or at all but I do have one important link
with Westport which is very precious to me. I went to the Irish College in Rome in 1960
to continue my studies for the priesthood. That same year, two students went to Rome
from Clonliffe College. One of them was Paddy Lyons, a native of Westport. We were
classmates and became good friends. Today he is a Benedictine monk of Glenstal Abbey,
Co Limerick. Father Fintan Lyons, OSB, I gladly remember him and send him greetings from
his native town.

Thank you once again for the wonderful Reception. Tomorrow evening may we all be
physically weary but spiritually exhilarated.

+Seán Brady
Archbishop of Armagh

Address by Councillor Tereasa Mc Guire, Cathaoirleach, Westport Town Council, on
the occasion of a civic reception to mark the visit to Westport of Archbishop Sean Brady,
Primate of All Ireland.

A dhaoine uailsle uilig is cúis fíor bhróid agus áthais domsa failte a chuir róimh anseo
inniu. Is uair an-stairiúil é an ocáid seo agus nil lán uaireanta ann nuair nach bhfuil
focal le rá agam ach seo ceann de na huaireanta sin.

May I extend a sincere welcome to you all here this evening; Archbishop Sean Brady, Primate
of All Ireland, Archbishop Neary; our Administrator Father Carney, on whom the pivot of
organisation and the mantle of responsibility has been thrust; Reverend Gary Hastings;
Father Kelly; Father Paddy Gill; and Reverend ladies and fellow pilgrims on this journey;
I welcome all of you here. I welcome my fellow Councillors who have taken time to be here
as well.

The opening lines of Psalm 120, “I will lift mine eyes to the mountain from where shall
come my help”, is truly a suitable benediction to our meeting here this evening. We in
Westport have lifted our eyes to the mountain for the past 2000 years. We have sought
consolation in it’s beauty; we have sought wisdom in the face of it for the forthcoming
weather; we have struggled on the penitential journey on our way up to seek salvation.

Mystics among us will always have acknowledged the mountaintop experience from the
transfiguration, to Martin Luther King’s mountain vision to Thomas Merton’s mountain

Thomas Merton in his biography Intimate Journey, describes the mountain that he saw in
India and we could well use it to describe our blessed mountain here. He talked about
the “sacred, majestic, ominous, noble and stirring mountain”. What better way to describe
our mountain, our sacred space.

Today is a very special day and tomorrow will be even more special when Archbishop Brady
makes the journey. This is a direct link, a link of 1,695 years, it was a long time coming
– nearly as long as the Sam coming to Mayo – but the bridge has been gapped and who knows,
bigger bridges could also be gapped this year. But your journey to Croagh Patrick tomorrow
is a serious link; it’s a link to our past, linking our present with the hope to our future.
It’s making a connection, and God knows in our society today we need to be connected. We
need to be connected to that inner part that we call our soul, to each other and to the
community at large.

As you make your pilgrimage, Archbishop, with the twenty thousand or so odd number that
will make it tomorrow, you do so on a search, you do so on a journey, and, like life, it’s
the journey not the destination, however, when you reach the top tomorrow you’ll be happy
to have gotten to that destination. Pilgrimage is important for all of us, we need to make
that journey, we need to take time out, to make our mark, to declare our search, pilgrimage
to seek signs of hope and to roll back the clouds that have darkened our skies.

Pilgrimage for us is that equality, everybody who ascends that mountain is equal. The sores
on your feet will be no easier or more spiritually bound than the sores of the greatest
sinner. It is important on an occasion like that, that connectedness, that we connect with
the past to Saint Patrick, to the present with us our community and to our future too, for
a Church that will have changed, a Church that, maybe when I look around the ages here this
evening , that we know must change or die. But as they say where there is a King; the King
is dead, long live the King; it is a time to move forward, it is a time to be unafraid face
the challenges ahead of us.

In conclusion, William Thackeray, who wrote Vanity Fair, and who wrote in 1842 his book The
Irish Sketchbook, describes his first viewing of Croagh Patrick, and Archbishop I hope you
will feel these sentiments, probably not as you are halfway up, but when you come back down
and reflect on the people you’ve met, on the journey, on the sharing of stories, the breaking
of bread, the sharing of the drink on the way. William Thackeray said of Croagh Patrick; it
forms an event in one’s life to have seen that place, so beautiful is it, and so unlike all
other beauties that I know of”.

Tá suil agam go mbeidh turas saisiuil agat ‘s go bfagfaidh Dia an fuinneamh agus an sláinte
duit chun an post atá leagtha duit a chomhlíonadh agus bí cinnte go mbeidh gach sort tacaíocht
le fail o muintir Cathair na Mart agus o muintir na hEireann go ginearalta.

In conclusion, your Grace and distinguished guests, it is my pleasure, my absolute pleasure,
to have welcomed you here today, to have accorded you this civic reception. This is my
second civic reception and as I thought about it today I thought about what connection there
was my first civic reception was last Tuesday for the special Olympians and I thought about
Jean Vaniers blessed and brokenness and maybe as you nurse your sore feet tomorrow there will
be a blessing on all the brokenness too. So I wish you well and I thank you for accepting
our invitation and may God grant you the strength and the energy to fulfil the good work
you have started.

Following these remarks and the Archbishops response the Cathaoirleach presented Archbishop
Brady with a picture of Croagh Patrick by Westport photographer Liam Lyons. Liam’s brother
Paddy Lyons attended the Irish College in Rome with Archbishop Brady and they became close
friends. The Leas Cathaoirleach Councillor Dave Keating presented the Archbishop with a copy
Rosa Meehan’s of History of Mayo.