Mass Rock Blarney
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Ballyshonin, Berrings, Blarney, Cork, Republic of Ireland
Mass Rocks are found throughout Ireland, they were used in Penal times during the 17th century to celebrate mass at a time when doing so was illegal. This Mass Rock in Blarney, County Cork, is a particularly good example.
Mass was celebrated at this Mass Rock, in Blarney County Cork, in penal times. The profile of a priest's face can be seen in the rock.
A Mass rock (Carraig an Aifrinn in Irish) was a stone used in mid 17th century Ireland as a location for Catholic worship. Isolated locations were sought to hold religious ceremony, as observing the Catholic mass was a matter of difficulty and danger at the time as a result of both Cromwell's campaign against the Irish and the Penal Law of 1695. Bishops were banished and priests had to register to preach under the 1704 Registration Act. Priest hunters were employed to arrest unregistered priests and Presbyterian preachers under an Act of 1709.
In many instances a stone would be taken from a church ruin and relocated to a rural area, with a simple cross carved on its top. Because the activity was illegal, the services were not scheduled and their occurrence was communicated verbally between parishioners.
Steps lead from the main road to the Mass rock.