First ever broadcast of Easter services from Saint Patrick’s College Maynooth

16 Apr 2019

Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth (SPCM), has been chosen by RTÉ religious broadcasting as the venue for the televised broadcast of this year’s Good Friday and Easter Vigil ceremonies on Friday 19 and Saturday 20 April.  It is the first time that the Easter services have been broadcast from the College Chapel, Maynooth, the extraordinarily beautiful neo-Gothic chapel at the heart of the national seminary.  This year’s broadcast will be viewed throughout Ireland and also by worldwide audiences via the internet.

Three new pieces of music by Irish composers have been especially commissioned as part of these broadcast services.  A choir of thirty voices will be directed by Dr John O’Keeffe, director of sacred music at SPCM.  Dr O’Keeffe led all of the choirs during last year’s Papal Mass in Phoenix Park for the 9th World Meeting of Families in Ireland.

Dr John O’Keeffe said, “All across the country, and, indeed, the world during the Triduum days, there are musicians endeavouring to do justice to the great events that we gather to celebrate. Here in Maynooth, we try to build on the foundations of two major traditions, the rich heritage of chant and choral music that has grown up with the Church’s Liturgies down the centuries, and the cultural devotional musical and language aspects of our native tradition. Onto these each year, we try to graft on new musical elements, to help us grasp in a  deeper way, the contemporary significance of the Christian story. For this year’s Easter Triduum Celebrations, members of seminary choir are joined by staff, student  staff and alumni singers from both university; and it is an honour and a privilege to us to be involved in this year’s broadcast of the Easter celebrations in our College Chapel.”

Commenting ahead of the Easter services, Father Tomás Surlis, rector of the national seminary at Saint Patrick’s College, said, “The atmosphere of the chapel is always spiritual and evocative.  While the Good Friday Passion is sombre, solemn and meditative, the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night will be joyous.  The pitch-dark chapel will be illuminated by hundreds of individual candles held aloft by congregation members, all of them lit from the Paschal Candle which will itself be lit from the Paschal Fire situated outside the College Chapel.  It will no doubt be a very special celebration this year.”

Saint Patrick’s College Chapel is regarded as one of the finest churches ever built in Ireland.  Completed in 1891, it was designed specifically for sung service and has 454 ornately carved wooden choir stalls, more than any other church in the world.  The congregation will comprise local parishioners, family and friends of seminarians, lay students from Saint Patrick’s Pontifical University,  Maynooth University as well as faculty and staff member from both university.

The College community is extending an invitation to those who would like to be part of the congregation in the chapel to make contact with Caroline at ‘SPCM Special Events’ by emailing [email protected] or by calling (01) 708 3964.  For those unable to be physically present, the ceremonies can be watched as follows:

  • Solemn Liturgy for Good Friday 19 April – RTÉ One Television and RTÉ Radio 1 Extra from 3.00pm to 4.15pm; and,
  • Easter Vigil Mass on Saturday 20 April – RTÉ One Television and RTÉ Radio 1 Extra from 11.00pm to 12.40am.

Notes to Editors

  • The Maynooth College Chapel was built between 1875 and 1891 and was designed with the theme Laus Deo (Praise God) in mind.  Everything in the Chapel points heavenwards, the arches, the ceiling, the windows and the finials – all in keeping with the neo-Gothic design and its theme.  It is the primary Church for ordinations to the priesthood from the national seminary in Maynooth.  Since its foundation, over 11,000 priests have been ordained for ministry throughout Ireland, and across the globe.  The College has undergone refurbishment in recent years and this has included the restoration of its beautiful organ by Fratelli Ruffatti of Padua, Italy.
  • Kairos Communications, who are based in Maynooth, will be producing and broadcasting the two ceremonies for RTÉ. The company was founded over 40 years ago and this is their 20th year of working with both RTÉ and local parishes around the country to help broadcast Sunday worship and religious ceremonies. Having worked closely with the SPCM on other projects over the years, including the first Mass of the new Millennium in January 2000, Kairos are looking forward to returning to the beautiful College Chapel to help broadcast and celebrate this most wondrous time in the Church’s year.


For media contact: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long +353 (0) 86 172 7678 and Brenda Drumm +353 (0) 87 310 4444.