The story of the Wolfe Tone Grotto and some photos from the Blessing of the Grotto, Sunday 12th May 2024

Marian Year 1954

Pope Pius XII set aside the year 1954 as Marian Year it would run from December 1953 to December 1954. He encouraged everyone to honour Our Lady of Lourdes. He called on people in villages, towns and local communities to build a shine or grotto dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes.
In Bray and Enniskerry a number of shrines and grottos were proposed, a shrine at James Connolly Square, a grotto at Wolfe Tone Square, a grotto in the grounds of Loreto Convent Bray, a grotto at the Catholic Church in Enniskerry, a grotto at the Rocky Valley near Kilmacanogue and a grotto in the People’s Park in Little Bray (never built).
The community of Wolfe Tone Square and O’Byrne Road established a committee and soon found a site and they set about raising funds to cover the cost of the materials needed including a statue of Our Lady. The grotto would be erected using voluntary labour under the direction of Mr. M. Brady.
The fundraising included house to house weekly collection and donations from local business. In August 1954 the Bray Urban District Council gave approval for the erection of the grotto at Wolfe Tone Square.
The grotto was designed by Mr. W. Murphy 4.8 meters high (16ft) and 8.5 meters wide(28ft) with five steps that approach an alter with the Statue of Our Lady mounted. The statue was made in Dublin by John Deghini & sons of Lower Exchange Street, Dublin for £160. A documentary of the work of John Deghini featured in a RTE Horizon programme broadcasted in 15th February 1968. In 1993 when the grotto was refurbished a local newspaper carried the story the statue was originally transported to Bray on a bus.
On 5th December 1954 the route from the Queen of Peace Church to the Grotto was decorated with bunting, flags and banners. A guard of honour was formed by the F.C.A. local parish groups and school children. The Artane Boys band under the direction of Mr. J. J. Hickey played hymns.
After the blessing of the grotto by Canon Fitzpatrick and Fr. Mulcahy the Parish Priest of the Queen of Peace Church. The procession returned to the Queen of Peace Church for solemn benediction. Later in the evening at the International Hotel (now Bray Bowl) Mr. John Temple, Chairman of the grotto committee presented a cheque to Fr. Mulcahy. The cheque represented the balance of the grotto fund.
The blessing of the grotto in Loreto took place in October 1955, while the grotto at Enniskerry Church was blessed on the same day as the Wolfe Tone Grotto it was built by the Butler family of the Scalp, Enniskerry.
Brian White
May 2024
Sources Local and National Newspapers 1954, 1993, and 2004.

Fr. Peter O’Reilly, P.P.
Brian White, Bray Cualann Historical Society