The Friary church in Athlone.

Christmas Day Mass confirmed for Athlone Friary

Mass will be celebrated at the Friary church in Athlone on the mornings of both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, it has been confirmed.

The much-loved church has been looked after by a team of local volunteers since the Franciscan order moved out of Athlone at the beginning of this year.

Since then Franciscan priests have been voluntarily visiting Athlone to celebrate Mass in the Friary twice a week, on Tuesday and Sunday mornings.

One of the volunteers helping out with the church, Hugh Hanley, said that the usual 9.30am Mass on a Sunday would be celebrated there on Christmas Eve: Sunday, December 24.

For Christmas Day, a special Mass has been arranged in the Friary church and will also be celebrated at 9.30am.

In addition, volunteers will be helping to put together a crib for display in the church in December.

"It's important that we do have a crib, because this year it is 800 years since St Francis first built one in Greccio, Italy," explained Hugh.

It was recently announced that the annual Samaritans Christmas concert would again take place in its traditional home of the Friary church on Wednesday, December 6.

"The organisers of the Samaritans concert are going to leave their decorations behind after the concert, so the church will be very festive in December," Hugh added.

He said the volunteers were hopeful the current arrangements for services at the church would continue into the new year, and that attendances at the Masses in the Friary had been holding up well.