Fr Martin Pender
The parish of Carrig-on-Bannow, of which Saint Peter's Church in Hilltown, Ballymitty is part, is steeped in history and tradition. It stretches inland from Ballyteigue Bay to Rosegarland and Collcliffe. It is beautifully situated: to the North and North-West lie the wooded slopes above the Coragh river which divides it from Clongeen and Taghmon; on the West the Coragh opens out into "the little sea", as the locals call it, giving the appearance of a huge inland lake at high tide, keeping Tintern and its ancient abbey at a safe distance, while, to the South, lies the Bar of Lough over which the rough Atlantic lashes its fury in Winter, but during the Summer months providing many safe bathing spots for tourists. To the East and North-East are the parishes of Rathangan and Taghmon respectively.
The town of Bannow is of special historic significance, not just for local history but for the history of the nation of Ireland as a whole. As the site of the first landings of the Normans and the first important town to be built by them in Ireland, Bannow became a hub for the Norman presence in Ireland. The story of its rise and fall is one of deep tragedy and triumph, downfall and defiance, conquest and courage.
It is my hope that people today will rediscover the sacrifices and suffering people gave and endured to be faithful to God and his Church. In a modern, secular world like ours, it is important to "touch base" with history, thankful and grateful for the fortitude and forbearance of our ancestors in the Faith.