1932 Eucharistic Congress celebrated in Stanley’s Walk

Residents of Stanley's Walk standing beneath the impressive Arch which was made to celebrate the 1932 Eucharistic Congress held in Ireland. The Long Tower church is visible in the background. (Photo courtesy Mary Griffin, Great James Street) (1506BM50)
Residents of Stanley's Walk standing beneath the impressive Arch which was made to celebrate the 1932 Eucharistic Congress held in Ireland. The Long Tower church is visible in the background. (Photo courtesy Mary Griffin, Great James Street) (1506BM50)
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The 1932 Eucharistic Congress has a special resonance for Derry woman Mary Griffin who has kindly shared this unique 80-year-old photograph with ‘Journal’ readers today.

Mary’s late mother Nora Griffin (nee McCafferty) is just one of the many people featured in the picture when residents of Stanley’s Walk beside the Gasyard gathered under a huge Arch which they had erected in the street to mark the Eucharistic Congress being held in Ireland that year.

It was a massive event for Irish Catholics, with around a million people making the trip to Dublin, joining pilgrims and clergy from all over the world.

Mary Griffin, from Great James Street, remembers this photo being produced on many occasions by her mother, while a magnifying glass would be used to zoom in on the numerous faces in the crowd which gathered under the festive bunting.

Celebrations were held in towns and villages as many people marked the occasion in their own parishes.

“The picture was always in my granny’s house, they were always into photos,” Mary recalled this week.

Mary’s mother Nora (in a white collar) and her two aunts, Nora’s sisters Maggie McGlinchey and Lily McCafferty are also in the photo. The woman leaning in on Nora was Lily Morrow (nee McDermott), also a resident.

Sisters Annie and Maggie Doherty and another of Nora’s friends and neighbours, Rita McGinley were also present. A white-haired woman prominent in the picture was Annie O’Neill.

Mary said: “My mother used to say that even the boys that worked in the Gasyard helped to put up that Arch; it was a big event. One of the men in the picture is a Mr McFadden who was always helping out in Stanley’s Walk.

“My own father Danny Griffin from William Street was also at the Eucharistic Congress.

“His mother and his sister were supposed to go but his mother took sick so she gave my father the ticket and he went with his pal, Willie McCool. My father would have only been in his 20s. They always talked about it and John McCormack singing.”

Mary said the 1932 Eucharistic Congress - and this photo - was often a topic of conversation when she was growing up.

“You were brought up with it. My mother used to get the magnifying glass out and she knew everybody in it”.

It’s no wonder then that Mary knows the names of most of the people in the picture - too many to list here - in this wonderful snapshot from a bygone era in the heart of Derry city.