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New Grotto provides comfort to site residents in Ballintra

DLDC was delighted to be involved with the building of a gorgeous new grotto in Ballintra, Donegal. Ballintra site residents teamed up with Rose McDonagh of Donegal Travellers Project (DTP) and Maeve McIvor of Donegal Local Development Company (DLDC) to complete work on the project, all of which was done according to social-distancing guidelines.

The grotto has been praised for providing a bit of peace and comfort during a very difficult year for one resident. It features a two-foot-high statue of the Virgin Mary built into a natural stone embankment within view of the home of Brigid Reilly. Site residents kindly split the cost of the statue.

Brigid has been suffering this year from the tragic death of a third beloved daughter as well as from a terrible accident soon afterwards that left her in the hospital for eight weeks. “The grotto is something I’ve always wanted, ever since I lost my daughter Margaret,” Brigid said. “It gives me a sense of calm and helps me when I’m having a bad day. Depression is something I’ve suffered over a long period of time.”

Brigid added that the location of the grotto and its connection to her faith has helped her to find a sense of peace. “The grotto is situated where I can see it from my mobile home. I say my prayers while looking out at it. As a Catholic, it’s important to me to have the grotto to reflect on.”

The work included clearing and strimming the area, cleaning moss from the stone, cementing the statue to a ledge of the embankment, building a stone-walled garden beneath the statue, and placing flowering plants around it.

Bridgid stated “I am very grateful for all of the work that was put in. I am also very thankful to DTP Manager Siobhán McLaughlin for her hard work with Donegal County Council in getting a mobile home to meet my needs following a serious accident that affected my ability to walk. DTP has been a great support for me and my family and has made life a little easier for me.”
Brigid plans to get a plaque with the names of her three daughters installed at the grotto, as well as lights so it can be seen in the dark.
“It’s a great comfort,” Brigid said of the grotto. “When I feel down and out I look out at it. I always pray to it. I just love saying what’s in my heart.”

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