Northern Ireland news

Video: Co Armagh priest gives parishioners a 'lift' with online Irish dancing display

Irish dancing after Mass at St Peter's Church in Lurgan, Co Armagh
Mairead Holland

FIRST it was The Sash at Sunday Mass in Fermanagh, now it's the Co Armagh clergy getting in on the act with Irish dancing.

Parishioners of St Peter's Church in Lurgan were delighted to see parish priest Fr Colum Wright, deacon Kevin Devine and sacristan Noel McCann give a stirring performance of what looked like the 'seven steps', with a few extra embellishments.

The dance was performed at the end of Mass on Saturday night and streamed into homes via the parish webcam.

Parishioner Patricia Lavery, who had tuned in for the service, captured the unexpected show of clerical talent and posted it online.

"So this is what happens at the end of Mass Lurgan-style ...a little light heartedness to give us all a laugh," she wrote.

Fr Wright, who used to dance jigs and reels in his younger days, said the intention was to "give people a laugh and make them happy in the darkness of coronavirus".

He said that he and his con-celebrants had got into the habit of waving at the end of Mass, and sending goodwill greetings not just to parishioners but to people all over the world.

"We can see the 'hits' on the internet and we have people from 84 countries joining us at different times," he explained. "In St Peter's, myself and the sacristan would sometimes do a wee bit of a jig with the waving. So Noel put on some music just to give people a laugh.

"So many people are sick and housebound. At the sign of peace, I would pause and pray for people, including all those who are suffering from mental health problems.


"Even before the virus, there were so many of our sick who tuned in. We wanted to make them happy."

Last Sunday, Canon Jimmy McPhillips from Holy Cross Church in Lisnaskea played 'The Sash' after his 11.30am service "as a bit of craic", never expecting it to end up an internet hit.

He had originally pretended that the playing of the Orange flute band music was a mistake, but later confessed it was all a joke to cheer people up in the pandemic.

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