Log an Aifrinn – A Penal Laws Mass Site (1695 – 1778)
The Mass tree at Log an Aifrinn, the Hollow of the Mass, marks a hidden Penal Days Mass site located in a natural depression in former sandhills on Cruachán an Oireachtais – the hill of the congregation. During the Penal Days persecutions from 1695 – 1778, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was offered to the people of Lisheenaheltia and surrounding townlands by a priest who would travel cross country from Ballyhaunis in disguise to protect his identity from the dreaded Cotaí Dearga, the redcoats of the British Army. Sentries or lookouts were posted at regular intervals along the route to safeguard the priest. The attending priest would usually wear a veil, so that if an attendee was questioned they were able to say truthfully that they did not know who had celebrated the Mass. Night time worship also become common. Priest hunters were ruthless, acting on behalf of the persecuting British forces at this time. The Crown forces paid reward rates for capture from £50-£100 for a Bishop. The story had been passed down through the generations in Lisheenaheltia that during the Mass at Log an Aifrinn the priest was seized and beheaded by the redcoats. It is said that they infiltrated the congregation in disguise as they had gone unnoticed by the sentries. The chalice and Mass bell used at Log an Aifrinn were ploughed up in the mass valley some years ago. The chalice was given to the Priest in Glenamaddy at the time. Mass is celebrated at the site every summer.