Irish grandparents to be honoured with new pilgrimage

Ireland already has a Mother’s Day and a Father’s Day, but now a Co. Mayo grandmother has launched a campaign to honour grannies and grand-dads and grandfathers – and the goal is to gather the largest collection of prayers ever assembled in the country.

Catherine Wiley, who left Castlebar for London in her teenage years and built up a successful holiday business, has announced the first ever National Grandparents’ Pilgrimage, and she expects over 3,000 grandparents to turn up.

The pilgrimage will take place in Knock Shrine, Co. Mayo, on Saturday, September 22nd, and the keynote speaker will be former Eurovision Song Contest winner and MEP Dana, whose grandmother Nellie Sheerin accompanied her to Amsterdam when she won the Eurovision in 1970.

“I got the idea for the pilgrimage when I started to realise just how important a part grandmothers and grandfathers play in so many families. In many cases, they hold the family together. They are baby-sitters when parents are so busy with their working lives, and they also have a unique relationship with their grandchildren,” said Catherine, who recently moved back to Mayo after selling the holiday business she ran in England with her husband Stewart.

“Many Grandparents today are struggling with the effects of divorced, separated, second union, or single parent families on their children and their children’s children. I have ten Grandchildren and I know the special relationship that exists between grandparents and grandchildren. Grandparents are there from the birth of the child, they are ever-present and they enjoy the trust of their grandchildren from a very young age.

“Grandparents are there from the birth of the child. They are ever-present, and they enjoy the trust of the children from a very young age. Many grandparents may feel they are taken for granted, and my pilgrimage will seek to put that right, and also to honour grandparents for the part they play in transmitting the Catholic faith from generation to generation.

The pilgrimage will be led by Dr Michael Neary, Archbishop of Tuam, and schoolchildren all over the country are invited to write a Family Prayer in recognition of their Grandparents. “All of the prayers will be brought to Knock Shrine on September 22nd, and will be included in a permanent memento of this great occasion,” added Catherine.

Children can obtain a special Prayer Book to coincide with the pilgrimage by emailing, or by contacting Catherine at Horizon House, North Mall, Westport, Co. Mayo (tel 098 50290.)

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