Terry's Hill was the name of the hill just outside Shannonbridge on the road to Ballinasloe just past the mouth of the Raghrabeg road. The arrival of the Ursuline nuns some years ago made a dramatic change to the hillside with the building of The Ard Chiarain Prayer Centre. An amount of landscaping work has been carried out with about eight wooden buildings erected. Yesterday the Ursuline Nuns that live there Sisters Maura Moran and Marie Connolly had an open day for the people of Clonmacnois parish to have a look at the place and find out what is going on there.
Those that turned up were met by a welcoming cup of tea in one of the bigger buildings. Later we were taken on a walkaround of the five stand alone buildings intended for use for all who are seeking time out to be quiet, to listen, to pray, to get in touch with their inner selves and with God. There is also an Chapel / Oratory and two bigger units. One is a meeting room with reading facilities and the other building where we got the cup of tea is the main kitchen and dining room for group events.
The individual units contain a bed, en-suite facility, Cooker, fridge and furniture allowing users to be self catering. One unit is designed for parents. Buildings are heated by underfloor heating and are most comfortable. We were also taken on a walk around the gardens and I enjoyed the walk around the tranquility circle which is a path bounded by red brick and you follow the path , not crossing the red brick so that eventually you end up in the centre of the circle where a bench awaits and a round stone
Floats in a pool of rocks as a focal point.
Later we had prayer and music in the Chapel and Maura Moran told us that we were welcome to visit the Oratory or the garden with the walk. They have evening prayer in the Chapel each evening from 5.00 to 5.30 and we were invited to come along any evening if we felt like it.
Next Sunday Moore parish has the invitation from 3 to 4.30 PM.
So what is it like taking time out in Ard Chiarain ??? Well Bernard Matthieu a Yale professor from Boston is spending some days there and promised to send us an account of his experience.
Hopefully we will have the Ard Chiarain Programme for 2005 on this site soon.
Berard Matthieu was asking a missionary priest attending the open day if there was any Irish spoken in Ireland and if the Missioner spoke Irish. He told him about the Gaeltacht and the recent trend of Irish Speaking Schools. He was a missioner in China at one time and the Chinese were asking him where he came from. When he replied Ireland they wanted to know if that was a place in England. He said no. What language is spoken in Ireland they asked. He had to admit English but that we also have an Irish Language. From that moment he became determined to relearn Irish and he is now able to converse in Irish and celibrate Mass using