Members of Women’s Groups from Derrylin and Teemore are in the process of looking at how they can revive and renew a roadside Grotto at the site of the former Stonepark school in Derrylin.

The Revival and Renewal Project is currently being discussed by members via social media and an application is to be made for funding through the National Lottery Heritage fund.

The focus of the project will have a memorial to victims of the Covid-19 pandemic and will be cross-community as emphasised by the project’s theme: “Take time to pause and reflect, all faiths and none”.

First mooted by then Knockninny Parish Priest, Canon Terence Small, as far back as the mid 1940s, the Grotto, built on land kindly donated by Hugh McCaffrey, Derrylea, was eventually completed in August 1961.

Nearby Aughrim mountain was the source of the stones with much of the work being carried out voluntarily under the expert guidance of local tradesmen, Sean Prior and Paddy Gilroy with help from Jack Prior.

The site itself holds significant historical and international connotations, being a location where Mass was celebrated on a rock during penal times whilst an overhanging oak tree is said to be the last remnant of an extensive forest which had extended all the way to Ballyconnell.

Two statues, the Blessed Virgin and St. Bernadette were sourced from Belgium at a cost of £100.

In addition, the Grotto wall incorporates stones from the gable of the Apparition chapel at Knock as well as ones from similar overseas sites including Lourdes, Fatima and Garabandal.

These along with one from each bed at Lough Derg, were all sourced by Mrs Patricia McGovern, who had also triggered the building impetus on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Lourdes Apparition.