Photos L - R 
 1. Filming at Talamh na Manach/Monkisland N.S
2. Cill Mhuire church at night, courtesy of Cooley Parish.
3 - Filming Christmas wreaths outside Barry's shop, Grange.

Midnight Mass for Christmas Eve 
Who could have thought as we prepared for our Midnight Mass last year that we would still be living with Covid-19 and working with small congregations a year on....our opening paragraph on this page last year is worth repeating again this year...

As 2020 draws to a close, so much has changed for so many in the past 12 months...from empty churches at Easter, with our churches and congregations separated, we worshipped in different ways. Whether it was tuning into Mass from different locations, rosaries from the parochial living room, or first communions and confirmations witnessed via mobile phone on a live-stream - our faith remained. Throughout all those times of tech support across the phone, whether it was talking family through accessing facebook for the first time or on rté news now, or watching parish priests responding to prayer requests via facebook live, faith flourished online in ways it could never have done without this pandemic. A silver lining amidst the grey clouds that gathered across the world.

Where there is light, there is hope, where there is hope, there is love - and where one or two are gathered in his name, He is there with them. Ahead of our rté broadcast last year, we recorded a special Christmas Vigil Mass with members of the Cooley parish. The Vigil Mass took place outdoors in the 16th Century ruins of Cill Mhuire and the surrounding graveyard, with the crumbling walls providing some shelter from the wind and the rain that day.  The Mass was attended by just the readers, a small 6 person choir and some wonderful children from the local school who performed a small nativity scene. It was a stormy night and while it may have been a cold evening, there was a comforting warmth for all involved who felt connected to those who had witnessed their faith in that location across the centuries. 

For this year's Mass, we will be broadcasting from the Church of St. James in Grange, and preparations are already well underway ahead of  it all. Ita was up filming  recently with several different groups in the parish to create a short introduction to the area, which will begin the Mass, and the choir have been busy rehearsing their hymns for the night. Archbishop Eamon Martin will celebrate the Mass, with parish priest Fr. Malachy Conlon as con-celebrant on the night.  

On the day, Kairos will be in place at the Church with the OB and satellite trucks, rigging cameras and cables, all in preparation to send the signals back to rté that night. Typically there's a crew of around 20 involved in the production, from camera operators to sound and engineering folk, lighting operators, and satellite crew, not to mention our all important director, whose job it will be to select the shots that the viewers at home will see. In the wee small hours of Christmas morning, we begin our de-rig and are usually finished an hour or two after we come off air,  It may seem an unusual way to spend a Christmas Eve, but we've been working with such a wonderful crew of freelancers over the years that spending Christmas Eve together has become a Christmas tradition in its own right!

We're looking forward to celebrating Midnight Mass from the Church of St. James in Cooley, Co. Louth this Christmas Eve, and hope that you can join us, wherever you may be in the world. You can tune in on Friday Dec. 24th at 11pm on TV on rté 1 or online via the following options:

RTÉ Player

On digital radio via the RTÉ Radio Player

or by going to the RTÉ Radio 1 page and clicking the "Listen Live" link

Nollaig Shona agus Athbhliain faoi shéan is faoi mhaise daoibh!

CIll Mhuire at sunset - Parish of Cooley