A GROUP of young adults from Abbeyfeale were among almost two million people who took part in the “festival of colour” that was World Youth Day in Madrid last month.
The 22 people between the ages of 18 and 22 from the Abbeyfeale parish were among a group of over 40 youths and volunteers from the Limerick diocese who travelled to Spain for the international festival, which took place from August 16 to 21.
Their journey came after months of dedicated fund raising by members of the Abbeyfeale community.
A special celebratory Mass was held in the town last Saturday night, where parish priest Fr John O’Shea, who was part of the group that travelled to Madrid, paid tribute to the mentors, organisers, and volunteers who were involved, as well as and the youths themselves.
Billy Quirke, who was part of the Abbeyfeale delegation, said that the group had “a fantastic time” in Spain.
“The trip itself was absolutely an amazing time. From an organisational point of view I think the Spanish were expecting 1.5 million and ended up with 2.2 million. So maybe they could have done a better job on a few things. But everything else was brilliant.
“We were staying at a hostel right in the middle of Madrid, which was twenty minutes’ walk from everything. A lot of people who went over for it were staying in places 20 minutes outside the city itself.”
Mr Quirke paid particular tribute to Fr Chris O’Donnell, youth ministry director with the Limerick Diocesan pastoral centre, and organiser Aoife Walsh, “who had everything organised to perfection”.
The Abbeyfeale youths held a number of fund raising events in the lead up to the trip, including a parish fete in July.
Fr Chris O’Donnell said that all the youths who travelled to Madrid had a memorable experience.
“It’s an experience they struggle to describe. It’s a festival of colour; millions of young people celebrating their faith.
“The way I described it to someone is it’s like an All-Ireland final day, every day. It’s a sea of life and vibrancy. There was singing and dancing.
“The diocese is always very well represented at these events.
“We’re lucky in one sense that a lot of those who came with us have been to Lourdes before, and many of them were at the previous world youth day in Germany.
“It was a new experience for some of them, but it wasn’t for others.”