Monsignor Daniel Neenan of Adare
A PARISH priest is moving heaven and earth to have weddings celebrated again in the nuptial capital of County Limerick.
Monsignor Daniel Neenan, of Adare, said he will marry couples on Sundays – a day not permitted in Limerick Diocese and virtually all dioceses because it’s such a busy day for priests. The former parish priest in Monaleen said he would also do two weddings in the one day to help ease the backlog.
“We have three hotels (Adare Manor, Dunraven Arms and Woodlands House Hotel) and they are the biggest employers in the area. Someone was telling me there are at least 800 people employed between the hotels. Then you have the boutiques, coffee shops, restaurants and bars – they all draw from the weddings,” said Monsignor Neenan.
On average, around 80 or 90 wedding ceremonies take place annually in the Holy Trinity Abbey Church, Adare. In the height of the season there can be three or four a week.
To date, 14 weddings have been put back due to Covid-19.
“Some have been rearranged for the autumn time but now they are going to next year. However, we can start accommodating weddings again. We will accommodate people to the very best of our ability. Obviously, small weddings and it is a good, big church. We want the experience to be joyful and prayerful and memorable. There has been a lot of worry and concern but the couples realise it is beyond our control and have been very understanding,” said Monsignor Neenan.
The parish priest said he wants to do everything he can to help the hotels and local businesses bounce back from the effects of Covid-19.
“€1.6 million has been spent on refurbishing the church over the last number of years. It is all paid off. The response we got was incredible – locals, business people, hoteliers all really got involved. I want to do everything I can to help them in turn. The hospitality business is really so critical to Adare and weddings are very much a part of that. We walk together.”
Monsignor Neenan asked Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy if he could celebrate weddings on Sundays as a temporary measure to help clear the matrimonial backlog.
“I asked the bishop if he would allow them for a period of time just to help ease the situation. Weddings are already booked in for next year. Fridays and Saturdays are largely gone and Thursdays are very popular too so I asked if we could have Sundays as well.”
Bishop Leahy has agreed but stressed that, “We don’t want people to think that this is now a new norm; in fact, the contrary”.
When it comes to marrying two couples in one day, Monsignor Neenan said he would never take on a second wedding without clearing it with the first wedding group as you need two and a half hours between the Masses.
“There is a terrific community spirit in Adare. People really get involved – any time we ask for help or volunteers they are more than willing to come along. I don’t see it as my church. Last week, I didn’t reopen the church, we all reopened it. That is one thing I really want people to feel, that this is their church, their parish and they are important in it. I would like to see the church at the heart of all that is going on in Adare,” said Monsignor Neenan, who gave special mention to parish secretary Rita Hickey who has been directly involved in trying to rearrange weddings and their master of ceremonies John Shovlin, formerly of the Dunraven Arms.