Annual Esker Novena to Mother of Perpetual Help: Looking back..

Day 1 of Esker Novena, 8pm Session: full house.

The Annual Novena to the Mother of Perpetual Help began on Tuesday June 2nd, and concluded on Wednesday June 10th. It was a  ’Festival of Faith’ in honour of the Mother of God. She leads us always to her Son, ‘Do whatever he tells you!’ (John Chapter 2).

The response was great, the numbers at some sessions exceeded any that we can remember. It was a real coming together in joy and faith and prayer, along with much thanksgiving.  A joy for all involved.

THE DOMINICANS ARE BACK IN ESKER!  -well, sort of.  Watch them here on Youtube!  On Sunday last, we had a very special day here in Esker. Our preacher was Brother Conor McDonough, Dominican student and deacon. He was invited as part of the commemoration of the Dominicans coming to this site here in Esker, in 1715/1716, after their ‘refuge’ in the woods burnt down accidentally. Br. Conor was joined in the morning by Fr. Denis Murphy OP from the Galway community, and by three Dominican Sisters from Taylor’s Hill in Galway,- Sr. Caitríona, Sr. Michael, and Sr. Páidrigín. It was a joy to have them at the 12noon Mass, and for lunch afterwards. In the afternoon, we were joined here by twelve Dominican students, who happened to be travelling to Galway that afternoon, and came in to Esker to support their confrere, Br. Conor. At the end of the 6pm Novena Mass, eight Dominicans came up to the shrine of the Mother of Perpetual Help, and sang the Salve Regina, according to their own Dominican melody and practice. In the middle ages, the Dominicans in their churches would have Compline or Night Prayer early in the evening of a Sunday, and would have a sermon, and then conclude with their Salve Regina (“Hail, Holy Queen”). The singing of this has not been heard here in our Church in Esker for at least 130 years, and maybe longer! It was very moving, and a ‘moment of history’ to hear it being sung again among us, on Sunday evening. Thanks to the Dominicans who came and graced us with their presence, on Sunday June 7th, 2015. We hope to have them back again,- one Order of Preachers with another Order of Preachers! God bless them all on their journeys.  Click here for more.

Preacher on Sunday was Br. Conor McDonough, OP, a Dominican student, native of Salthill. He had been invited to honour the 300 years since the Dominican Friars came to this very site in Esker, after their house burnt down accidentally sometime in 1715. they began to build on this site, and were up and running sometime in 1716.  This in the early days of the Penal Laws, when all religious were banned from living in Ireland. The woods and the people of this area of Esker kept them hidden and safe.

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8pm Session on Day 1: a few of the many who packed the place.

Esker Redemptorists.

FINDING US?  - SATELLITE CO-ORDINATES:  N53° 16.940;  W8 40.852°.  Finding your way? Take R348, road between Kiltullagh and Athenry. Approaching from Athenry?  Follow New Inn signs, and later Ballinasloe, along R348. Approaching from Kiltullagh?- Keep Kiltullagh Church on your right, and go about 2km towards Athenry on R348, until you see sign for Esker Monastery. 


DOING EXAMS? You will all be included in our prayers during the coming nine days. We will think of you, each day. God bless you all! The Esker Novena Community! Click here for more.


Our Preachers this year were: 

Father Pat O’Connor, from Boherbue in  County Cork, is a member of the Redemptorist Community of Clonard Monastery, Belfast. Pat has lived and ministered in Limerick, Dublin, Belfast, and also spent 14 years in Luxembourg ministering to the English-speaking community there. Pat is a philosopher, a man deeply dedicated to Jesus the Redeemer. Pat is comfortable in the carpentry shop and in the intricacies of the workings of computers!

Brother Conor McDonough, OP is a student with the Irish Dominicans and was recently ordained a deacon. Conor is a native of Galway, studied in Cambridge, and became a secondary school teacher in the north of England. Conor felt called to the life and ministry of the Order of Preachers in Ireland and left his teaching career in England and applied to the Dominicans. Conor is invited to preach at our June Novena to our Mother of Perpetual Help to mark and honour the 300th anniversary of the Order of Preachers coming to this site in Esker, having fled from the Abbey in Athenry during a time of persecution. (Their small house in the woods near Esker burnt down in 1715, and after a period of searching, got the use of the land here at Esker, where the present monastery stands.)

Father Tadhg Herbert, a native of Lisnagry, County Limerick, is a member of the Redemptorist Congregation working in Brazil. While Tadhg has from time to time worked on missions and novenas in Ireland, the bulk of his 26 years of ministry has been spent in Brazil. Tadhg comes from a well-known Limerick hurling family! He is home for some months now from Brazil and we welcome him to preach and be with us in Esker during our Novena.

Father Denis Luddy had worked for some years with Coca Cola in Cork: he then joined the Redemptorists in 1982 and was ordained in 1991. Apart from two years in the Philippine Islands, Denis has spent his life giving parish missions, novenas and school retreats in Ireland. From Killavullen in Co. Cork, he has had assignments in Limerick , Dundalk, and recently joined our community here in Esker. Denis is a highly regarded preacher!

WE REMEMBERED:  Fr. Vincent Kavanagh, C.Ss.R., who was buried in Esker on June 19th 2015, was the Redemptorist who built up the Novena to the Mother of Perpetual Help to what it has become nowadays. In the early 1970′s, he built it up in Limerick from being a small annual event with three sessions a day, to the twelve sessions per day (some in the marquee) that it quickly became, with people thronging all the sessions, over the nine days. Since then, it has grown to a great event in Clonard, in Galway, and our own Esker event each year. Fr. Vincent’s Novena Team preached Novenas all over Ireland, over many years. His goal was to ‘make her known to the world’,- and he did. Ar dehires Dé go raibh a anam delis!

Found on Facebook, from an international Redemptorist website: read about Fr. Kavanagh. Click here or on


The original icon was given by Pope Pius IX to the Redemptorists in 1866, and so, next year, 2016, will be the celebration of the 150th Year of the handing over. ‘Make her known to the World!’ was what Pope Piux IX told us to do. And we have been doing that in every corner of the globe since then.

Click here to read an explanation of the Icon of the Mother of Perpetual Help. 

Click here to see an explanation, ‘Reading an Icon’,  on Youtube, from the Esker Redemptorists.




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