19th Sunday Year A 2023
St. Imy Celebration – Killimer
Sunday 13th of August 2023
Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.
Ernest Shackleton, the famous Antarctic explorer along with two companions in May 1916 spent 36 hours crossing the frozen Antarctic. It has gone down in history as one of the greatest survival stories of all time.
In his later journals, Shackleton recalled a strange phenomenon that happened during the journey. He wrote that all three of them experienced a feeling during their arduous journey that “often there were four, not three” men in their group. This fourth person was silent but always an encouraging presence. On reaching their destination the fourth person disappeared. Shackleton referred to it in later years as something “which can never be spoken of.”
The poet T.S.Eliot addressed the phenomenon in his poem The Wasteland when he wrote: “Who is the third who walks always beside you? When I count, there are only you and I together. But when I look ahead up the white road, there is always another one walking beside you.”
It is said of Eliot that he knew of Shackleton’s experience of the fourth person but he confused the details and made it a third person and thereby the phenomenon became known as the Third Person Phenomenon instead of fourth person. Regardless, it is a reported experience of many people in difficult situations. Mountaineers on Everest have said they often feel the presence of another invisible presence urging them on and even protecting them.
3rd Person Phenomenon in today’s Gospel
The third person phenomenon springs to mind on reading today’s gospel. The disciples in peril during a storm on the lake and suddenly they saw Jesus coming to them. Jesus calmed the waters and encouraged them and Peter took to walking on water he was so convinced of Christ’s presence. Was this an example of the third person phenomenon? For people of faith, that special presence of Jesus Christ is something special and important, consoling, supportive as it is challenging. Where would we be without it?
3rd Person Phenomenon in Killimer
For yourselves here in Killimer that there is another third person presence, that of St. Imy. Even though little enough is known of St. Imy, her spirit is very much a presence here in this Church, in the community, at the local sacred well and especially on this special day every year, August 13th.
You are in an unique position in this Parish to have the Birthplace of two Saints. St Imy and her brother St Senan, Senan being regarded as one of the 12 early apostles of Ireland. The townland of Molougha, has rejoiced since around the 5th Century with their arrival to parents Erchan, her Dad and Congella, her mother.
According to accounts, her mother entered labour for for the birth of one of her children while walking through the woods; when she grasped a tree branch for support, it is said to have blossomed to foretell the virtues of the saints to come!
Senan and Imy
Down through the ages the names Senan and Imy are very unique and special to this area and beyond.
Detail of St. Imy
Much information has been documented about St Senan while very little information is known about St. Imy. Research reveals that St. Senan’s sister was also called Ibie which probably means some transcriber had a cold when he told his scribe to write “Imy”. But, Ibie was also called Imer, hence “Cil” meaning the church or cell of – and there we get Killimer.
A symbolic presence still
St Imy’s Well, maintained by the O’Driscoll family in the Townland of Burrane, enjoys special attention on this feast day, August 13th and many other occasions as well. The waters of this well with the curative properties for aching bones are another important third presence here in this location. We could all do with a dose of that as we get older and old age gradually encroaches!
The Shrine on the roadside, dedicated the St Imy along with ruin of St Imy’s Church from the 9th century, still standing in the old graveyard in Lower Burrane are further reminders of that third person presence. It is interesting to see in various old sacred sites around the country that they are especially valued as current day burial locations and good to see that this currently accommodates burial tombs for local families.
St. Imy’s Day and Killimer School.
We also remember, on this occasion, in this very location another third person presence, the past pupils of Killimer School which closed in June 50 years ago. The original Killimer National School was right here in part of Killimer Church. A close look at the roof on the Sacristy shows a difference in the roof structure which includes a red brick chimney which was used to heat the classroom in those times. Historical accounts from 1837, refers to approximately 100 children attending the school. Many of those children walked to school through the fields, some of whom came from the quarries at Moneypoint.
New School and Successive arrangements
A new national school was built in 1895 in Doonagurrogue on a site donated by Mr. Robert Carey/Revees of Bessborough House. This school was well attended for many years however it eventually closed in June 1973 following the retirement of Mrs. Kitty Sheehan. The remaining pupils were then bussed either to Burrane National School, The Christian Brothers boys National School or the Convent of Mercy girls National School in Kilrush. We remember all the past pupils of Killimer School today in our prayers and their presence physically or in spirit is very much with us today.
Feast Day Blessings
On this special day in the community I wish you all a happy Feast of St. Imy.
Third Person Presence
Recalling Shackleton, the Gospel of Jesus in the boat, the presence of St. Imy and the great people who have gone before us – cherish your own experience of the third person phenomenon – when you are one you are often two.
Jesus said: “Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.”