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Shannon church renovations uproot pope’s tree

By Sean Ryan - 14 June, 2015

Pope St John Paul II's treeLocals in a Co Clare parish have expressed disappointment over the uprooting of a tree associated with the late Pope John Paul II.

Pope John Paul II departed from Shannon Airport at the end of his visit to Ireland in 1979.

While he was in the country he presented the bishops of each of the country’s 26 dioceses with an oak tree sapling to commemorate his historic visit.

The then Bishop of Killaloe, Dr Michael Harty, decided that the oak tree sapling presented to Killaloe would be planted in Shannon to commemorate the Pope’s visit to the town.

While in Shannon, the Pontiff also blessed the foundation stone for the new church that became SS John and Paul church.

The parish council at the time planted this tree beside the new church. However, the tree has now been cut down.

According to parish priest Fr Tom Ryan, “There was no option but to do this because of the damage being caused by the roots of the tree.”

He added, “As part of the renovations currently taking place and following professional advice, the decision was made to remove the tree. Cuttings were taken from the tree and it is hoped that new oak saplings will flourish in time.”

“The tree that was cut down has been removed and taken to St Caimin’s School where the Chaplaincy, Art and Woodwork departments will work on a project to create a wooden sculpture honouring the memory of the close links that St John Paul II has with our parish.”

Custy Construction have begun the outdoor work for the renovations to SS John & Paul Church.

However, Fr Ryan confirmed that the Church will remain open and in use during this outdoor work.

The work consists of a new sacristy at the back of the church, a meeting facility with disabled accessible toilet, a new confessional room at the back of the church, conversion of the existing confessionals into storage space, upgrading the fire alarm system, creating a third entrance to the church and the installation of CCTV to improve the security.

The cost of this work will be over €200,000.

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