Bere Island Grotto

In 1954, to mark the Marian year, a decision was made by the island community to build a Grotto.   The Grotto was officially opened in November 1954.

The Grotto was built on the site of a former quarry in the downland of Derrycreeveen, which was donated by Frank Holland.  Island men undertook the clearing and construction and the statue of Our Lady was donated by a local woman.

The halo over the statue is illuminated and for many years before modern navigation lights were installed on the nearby pier, islanders returning home by boat used the light at the Grotto to navigate their way into the island.

Official opening

At the official opening of the Grotto in November 1954, The Cork Examiner published this report:
“A beautiful new shrine and statue of the Immaculate Conception was blessed at Derrycreeveen, West End, Bere Island Co Cork yesterday.  The site, a disused stone quarry on the island’s main road was cleared and laid out and the edifice built at the back, all within one month by the voluntary efforts of the island men.
 
The grotto was decorated with flowers, flag and bunting and the ceremonies were witnessed by a very large crowd many of whom came by boats from the m mainland. 
 
Rev Father J Quane, administrator Bere Island unveiled and blessed the statue and recited the rosary after which he read the Marian Year prayer.  The choir of St Michael’s Church, Ballinakilla conducted by Miss Eileen O’Sullivan rendered appropriate hymns to our Blessed Lady. 

Fr Quane thanked the donor of the statue and the people of the island by whose donation and work the shrine was completed.
 
The ceremonies concluded with the singing of Faith of Our Fathers by the choir with the entire congregation joining in.The plaque at the base of the statue bore the inscription Our Mother, Our Hope.  Marian Year 1954.”

Focal point of island life

The Grotto continues to be a focal point of island life, with islanders looking after its upkeep, and every year on the Holy Day of August 15th islanders gather at the Grotto to say the Rosary.

In 2018, to mark the 65th anniversary, the Bere Island Tourism and Enironment Group funded a clean up of the Grotto removing overgrowth and planted spring bulbs and plants. At an event held to mark the anniversary parish priest Fr Noel Spring blessed the Grotto.

Official opening and blessing of the Bere Island Grotto in 1954.
BIPG Archive
Bere Island Grotto
Helen Riddell
Islanders marking the 65th anniversary of the Grotto.
Helen Riddell

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