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A Cornamona sermon becomes a Sunday half marathon

South of the border
A Cornamona sermon becomes a half marathon

Willie McHugh

According to an old Scottish proverb open confession is good for the soul. That being so then I openly confess I’ve nodded off during the odd delivery from the pulpit. The Lenten Pastoral Letter has a Rip Van Winkle effect entirely. I’m out for the count before the orator even clears their throat.
There was one instance though when failure to doze almost sent a fellow parishioner on a different path through life. During the days (not to mention the nights) of our idyllic youth a member of the Jesuit Order came to our synagogue on a recruiting mission one Sunday. He left contact details on the off chance there might be an interested candidate in the gathering. The devil makes work for idle hands. We decided we’d unearth one from among the flock by furnishing a declaration of interest on behalf of a chap down the village. We left no stone unturned. Long before the inclusion of a cover letter was the must include we included one. The Jesuits were au fait with the bit of headhunting also. A few weeks later two of their number arrived in our village in search of their man. We weren’t privy to the nature of the discussion but the negotiations came unstuck. They left with an unsigned dotted line.
Fr Paraic Kelly fared much better when he arrived in Cornamona one Sunday to preach about living conditions in Zambia where he ministered. Michael Dolan was tuned in and rather than curse the dark Michael set about lighting a candle.  Michael got in touch with Fr Anthony Kelly, a fellow SMA Father who works with street children and vulnerable families in Zambia. Along with Dermot Birch, Michael set up the Zambia Housing Project. It’s a worthy cause and already the parishes of Cornamona, Clonbur and Cong are on board. The priests in the parishes willingly allowed the committee set up an envelope collection to run in tandem with church collections.
Dermot and Michael have been to Zambia already. Others too like Brendan Carney, Gerry Coyne, Coilin Burke, Deirdre Breathnach, John Moran, Maura Corbett, Noreen Kerrigan, Paul Hardiman and Seán Heanue among others have gone there too. They didn’t idle. By March of next year they hope to have sixty four houses completed. Here’s the interesting bit. All monies collected go towards providing material for construction. The volunteers fund all their own expenses including travel, accommodation and vaccination injections. While in Zambia they share their building skills with the locals. It’s not a group going out there to a greenfield site and taking on the task. It’s a joint effort and they’ve returned to discover the people who benefited from their practical support have done landscaping and other work to further enhance their community.
As volunteering goes this is as good a story as you’re likely to encounter. Here’s a group of locals giving freely of their time and labour. Every euro collected is put directly into bricks and mortar.
As part of their fundraising effort they are holding the Corrib/Mask Half Marathon on Sunday, August 26 commencing at Clonbur GAA pitch at 11am. The route takes runners out from the foothills of Mount Gable with Lough Mask on the right hand running rail. It continues through Cloughbrack and into Cornamona where they first rocked the cradle of the Zambian Housing Project. The Corrib and the islands come into view then and after hitting the wall somewhere around Dooras the narrow streets of Clonbur provide the home straight to the finishing line back where the white flag was raised.
There will be the usual water stops along the way and already a few disciples of marathon running have committed to breaking stride. There are the usual prizes on offer and a presentation to follow in Tigh Bhurca.
To finish.  My lovely neighbour Jenny Mulvey from under the fairy fort married Barney McCabe from drumlin country on Saturday last in Ballinrobe. This was a full marathon wedding. We send our blessing from the SOTB pulpit.

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