This year, the Monto Festival has been revived in Inner City Dublin; it consists of a number of activities held over a weekend (22-23 August 2015) designed to bring the local community together. For those who may not be so familiar with old Dublin, Monto used to be the nickname for the one-time red light district in Dublin. It was immortalised as “Night town” in James Joyce’s famous work, Ulysses, where the central protagonist Leopold Bloom visits a brothel. Through the intervention of Frank Duff and the Legion of Mary, the brothels were eventually closed down in 1925.
Where the old tenements used to stand, there is now a beautiful Park, known as Liberty Park, surrounded by modern Council Housing apartments, and in which stands a grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, made up from the cobble stones that once paved the notorious Monto. As part of the Monto Festival, the Parish took the initiative to renovate and clean the grotto.
It was originally planned to have the Sunday Mass in the Park itself, but because of the unyielding rain, the Mass had to be held in the Parish Church. It may have been raining all day, however it did not dampen the spirits. There was a good attendance, and a large number of coloured balloons around the altar highlighted the special festive mood of that Sunday. As parishioners arrived in the Church, they lit a candle in front of the Statue of Our Lady, which was waiting to be carried back to its original place in the park.
The whole Salesian Community participated in the liturgy and this week our numbers was larger than usual since we had two Salesians visiting our community, Fr Antoine Farrugia from Malta and Deacon Alberto Goia from Turin. It was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate and thank God with our Parishioners the Bicentenary of Don Bosco, having now been in the Parish for more than twenty years, working within the inner city.
In his homily Fr Richard quoted Archbishop Dermot Martin when he had visited the Parish on a previous occasion: “There are great families in this parish, parents who do everything they can for their children. Inner city Dublin has a great history of people looking after one another, especially when times are hard. That goodness springs up naturally; it would be a tragedy if we were to loose that sense of good Dublin values.”
At the end of the Mass, the Statue of Our Lady of Lourdes was carried in procession to the Park. On arrival Fr Richard said a few words related with the significance of the occasion, and invited people to release the balloons. The Statue was placed in the grotto, and after the Angelus was recited, Fr Richard blessed the grotto, to the delight of all those present. Following the blessing, the Monto Festival programme continued with the popular Monto Wedding. Indeed it was an exercise of community building in the heart of the city.