Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 6, 2006
Celebs abound in this sedate Irish parish
Statesman Charles Parnell, composer Percy French, TV series Ballykissangel call Avoca home
St. Patrick – March 17
By TED FITZGERALD
Avoca's parish church has become familiar to television audiences as St. Joseph's, domain of a series of youthful pastors overseen by irascible Father MacAnally
Long before this, area residents like to believe that St. Patrick himself passed here along the gentle Avoca stream. More factual history is at hand about nine km from Avoca where the important seventh century ruins of Glendalough attest to the early missionary work of St. Kevin and provide a popular tourist destination.
Visitors to St. Mary and St. Patrick can't help but be impressed with the large stained glass windows in the sanctuary wall behind the altar.
Beneath a dove representing the Holy Spirit and Christ seated holding the globe are four panels depicting St. Patrick, Mary, Joseph and St. Laurence O'Toole, Irish patriot and Glendalough resident.
Patrick is also honoured with a statue in one of four prominent niches adjacent to the sanctuary where he wears his traditional green vestments with bishop's mitre and crozier.
Ireland's patron saint is well known for his activities in converting the island after being a slave there in his teens. Consecrated a bishop in France in 432, he returned permanently and despite many setbacks was, by his example of prayerfulness and compassion, able to establish Christianity throughout much of the country. His writings and prayers are some of the earliest recorded.
In 1996, the tranquil linear village of Avoca began a new life when it became the location of the BBC TV village of Ballykissangel for their successful comedy-drama series about life, loves and schemes in an Irish village.
Since Kieran Prendiville developed the idea for the program in 1992, it's been enjoyed by millions of viewers worldwide who have sweated and prayed with the town's denizens.
Avoca's parish church has become familiar to television audiences as St. Joseph's, domain of a series of youthful pastors overseen by irascible Father MacAnally (Niall Toibin).
Down the street, Fitzgerald's Bar is the focal point for the town's intrigues, a watering-hole for such as veterinarian Deidre Donnelly, Dr. Ryan (Bosco Hagen), entrepreneur Quigly (Tony Doyle) and local characters Liam and Donal.
Despite the periodic influx of 100 or so crew members during irregular shoots, the village retains its pastoral ambience and is a welcoming place for travellers.
Once past the friendly cleric at the church gate, visitors to the Vale might wish to visit the famous Avoca Hand weavers mill here or the nearby Irish Sea beaches.
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