Homily for the Feast of the Assumption – Drumelihy Novena 2019

Assumption of Mary – 2019 – Our Lady’s Well Drumelihy, Kilmacduane, Parish, Cooraclare and Cree

Tá Dia láidir agus tá Máthair Mhaith aige!

In the ritual Prayer of the Church, The Liturgy of the Hoursaround the world, as we greet the new day in praise of God at Laudsthe words of Psalm 119 are sung or recited so often:

“I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word”.

As we gather in this sacred location, Our Lady’s Well, Drumhlihy we are conscious that we have done just that. We have risen today in great hope and in praise of God’s Word!

  • Some elements of that journey are most likely similar for many of us!
  • The novelty and excitement of a very early start.
  • The anticipation of getting up on time!
  • The struggle to get out of bed at an ungodlyhour!
  • Wondering what the weather would be like!
  • The hope of something different.
  • Awarness of the wonderful gift of a new day.
  • A new opportunity to start again.
  • The joy of being able to get up and be mobile to journey in pilgrimage to Our Lady’s Well here in West Clare.

Appreciation of this special moment!

In these moments we savour and rejoice in the wonder, novelty, strangeness and the delight in being here. We thank God for the magnificence of life and health and the beauty of nature around us as we begin the miracle that this new day is!  We also bring our heartfelt prayers and petitions, struggles and challenges with us to Our Lord, who is indeed strong and to his great Mother, Assumed into heaven!

The Assumption – Harvest Thanksgiving

Today we celebrate the feast of the Assumption, Lá fhéile Muire sa bhFómhar,Our Lady of the Harvest. Traditionally in Ireland, the 15th of August is a celebration of thanksgiving for the harvest.  We’re almost at the point of saying good bye to the Summer and entering into the Autumn season and thanks be to God it has been one of the better Summers in general.


And so we give thanks.  We give thanks to God for all that we have, the gift of life, the gift of health, the fact that we are here this morning speaks volumes.  So many people would love to be here today, but can’t, so we rejoice and give thaks for what we have.  We give thanks for what the older generation used to call the small blessings, the small mercies of life.

Like Patrick Kavanagh in his delightful poem entitled I May Reap on the feast of the Assumption we gather in this sacred place to offer our humble prayer of thanksgiving.

I May Reap

I who have not sown,

I too 

By God’s grace may come to harvest

And proud,

As the bowed


At the Assumption

Murmur thanksgiving.


In the spirit of the joyful prayer of the Magnificat, Mary’s great prayer of thanksgiving that echoes in liturgies all over the world today we worship God in this beautiful place and give thanks on this special feast day, on this first day of this very  novena of grace to Our Lady.

Novena – 9 days of Prayer – Something special.

There is something very special in our Catholic Tradition about nine days of prayer and it has been part of the tradition here in Drumelihy for quite some time, drawing so many here from all over west Clare and indeed further afield.  I love the way this year you have chosed a wise saying, a proverb, a sean-fhocal for each day of the Novena this year.  A great idea to have a pity nugget of wisdom the reflect and mediate and contemplate each day.

Novena in Solidarity with Our Lady’s Shrine, Knock

Today also marks the beginning of the Novena to the national Shrine of Our Lady in Knock, like the great tradition here in Drumelihy, 9 days of prayer leading up to the anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady, Queen of heaven there in 1879, 140 years ago. Traditionally, a dawn Mass in the Shrine also on this feast day, so we join with them in spiritual communion from this sacred location.

We remember in prayerful solidarity also the pilgrim group from the diocese who are en routeon foot from Nenagh to Knock, hoping to arrive there for the anniversary of the apparition.

The Meaning of the Assumption

The dogma or definition of the assumption, believed for generations, but only defined formally in the 1950’s is our belief that because Mary was without original sin and because of her exemplary life she didn’t have to endure the transitus of normal death, but was assumed straight into heaven.  It’s also called the feast of the Dormition or falling asleep of Mary and is marked in a special way in both Jerusalem and Ephesus.  Mary, Mother of God, assumed into heaven has a special place in our spirituality and prayer and devotion.


Mary’s prayer of praise, the Magnificatis one of the most beautiful prayers we have. Today, the Church uses it to celebrate the Feast of the Assumption which celebrates Mary’s glorious assumption into heaven.

The Example of Mary

Mary is the best reminder to us that our God, the Word, took on flesh through the faith of one human woman, Through Mary; we received the gift of salvation of Jesus Christ.

Tá Dia láidir agus tá Máthair Mhaith aige!

The theme of today is gleaned from the sean-fhocail or old or wise sayingTá Dia láidir agus tá máthair mhaith aige.  God is strong and he has a great mother.  We rely on the help, the assistance, the intercession of Mary so much in our lives.

Tá Dia láidir agus tá Máthair Mhaith aige.

Like so many generations before us we bring our prayers, out peitions to Our Lady at the Holy Well and her blessed Son in the Eucharist and we know they will get a favourable hearing.


Another powerful line from Scripture speaks loudly to me in this context:

Isaiah 12:3

With joy you will draw waters from the wells of salvation…

Today as we come here seeking blessing in the healing waters of the Well of Drumelihywe place our prayers, our petitions, our many challenges humbly before the Lord and in reflecting on the wisdom of the prophet Isaiah in joyful celebration seek the well springs of salvation.


Celebration and Remembrance

We need to celebrate and remember Mary, the mother of Jesus as our model of faith. It was Saint Augustine, who said that Mary had conceived Jesus in her heart long before she conceived Him in her womb. In accepting the call of the angel to be the mother of Jesus, she became the first Christian.

  • She was the first to let Christ be born within her, and we follow by saying yes to Jesus in our own hearts.
  • She was first to learn the teachings and spirit of Jesus, and we follow.
  • She was often confused and lacked the knowledge to understand all that God was showing her, but she always remained faithful.
  • She stood by the foot of the cross, and watched Him die.
  • She was present as the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples and transformed them at Pentecost.

Today, we celebrate and rejoice in the fact that Mary receives the fullness of redemption and salvation in the glorious doctrine of her Assumption into heaven!

The Assumption in Connemara Blues

The great north-Clare poet, philospher, priest John O’Donoghue, God be good to him penned a beautiful sonnet on the Assumption in his series of sonnets on the mysteries of the Rosary in Connemara Bluesand I will leave the final words to him.  Simply called The Assumption:

Perhaps time is the keeper of distance and loss,

Knowing that we are but able for a little at a time.

And the innocence of fragments is wise with us,

Keeps us from order that is not native to our dust.


Yet, without warning, a life can suddenly chance

On its hidden rhythm, find a flow it never knew.

Where the heart was blind, subtle worlds rise into view;

Where the mind was forced, crippled thought begins to dance.


And if this day found for her everything she lost,

Her breath infused with harvest she never expected

From the unlived lives she had only touched in dream;

Her mind rests; memory glows in a stairs of twilight.


Her hair kisses the breeze.  Her eyes know it is time.

She looks as young as the evening the raven came.


  • Tá Dia láidir agus tá Máthair Mhaith aige!
  • “I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word”.
  • With Joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.