Northern Ireland news

Parade at Co Tyrone Mass rock near gold mine site

A statue of the Virgin Mary near a Mass rock in Greencastle, Co Tyrone
Connla Young

THE Ancient Order of Hibernians is planning a parade close to a Co Tyrone Mass rock it claims is under threat from a proposed gold mine.

The Catholic organisation says up to 12 bands and several hundred people are expected to attend the event in Greencastle to mark the 100th anniversary of the Marian apparitions at Fatima.

The parade, due to take place on Sunday September 10, will also be used to highlight concerns that the ancient Mass rock could be destroyed.

Canadian firm Dalradian Gold has plans to mine for gold in the area and intends to build a processing plant which will use cyanide to extract the precious metal.

Some local people are bitterly opposed to the plan on health and environmental grounds, but the company insists the plant will minimise impacts on the environment and wildlife.

In May the Greencastle-based Molly Maguire Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) division held a Rosary crusade close to the rock, which is near an eight-foot-high statue of the Virgin Mary erected earlier this year.

The Mass rock, which is in an area known as Crockanboy Hill, is believed to date back to the penal laws when Catholics were forced to practice their faith in secret.

It is understood that notices about the parade have been placed in Mass bulletins in Co Tyrone and a leaflet will be distributed outside churches this weekend.

It calls on “all Catholics to rally in defence of the Mass rock”.

Dalradian Gold has previously said that while the Greencastle parish website and diocesan records indicate there are three Mass Rocks in the area, none are on land controlled by Dalradian.

"We have no evidence of a Mass rock on land owned or controlled by us."

Residents pictured at the Mass rock site last year

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