Iris Ring with Marion Hourigan and Kathleen Lourden.

Mary Fitzgerald of Fr Muphy Place, Ballinacurra, took out her best china yesterday (Wednesday 7 February), for her annual charity coffee morning.
This is Mary’s 22nd year raising funds to help the areas sick, with a special devotion to the blessed Mary, travel to Lourdes.
Speaking to the East Cork Journal Mrs Fitzgerald said the coffee morning is always well supported.
“Local businesses supply spot prizes for a draw that takes place on the morning, for which I am very grateful."
East Cork has also had a long history of sending the younger generation to assist the infirm.
When Arch Bishop Mc Quaid established the first pilgrimage in 1949 he requested the initial committee to find young people to assist the sick.
That tradition continues today with transition year students from colleges around East Cork forming part of an army of helpers, most pay their own way and give up their free time.
This is the 53rd year the Midleton and District Lourdes invalid Fund have assisted in sending the sick and disabled on a 6 day pilgrimage, to receive a special blessing from Our Lady.
In order to fund the trip monies are raised through coffee mornings like Mary Fitzgerald’s along with an annual gala ticket event, to cover costs.
Mrs Fitzgerald who has been traveling to the French town for the past 26 years said, going to such a spiritual place can be life changing. “Everyone is at peace there and always happy.”
Officially 80,000 sick and disabled a year travel to the French town, to touch the rock of the grotto, to get strength to face their moral or physical pain and give purpose to their life.
There truly is something special about this small village that has a population of just under 17,000.
Annually up to 6 million visit the sites where St. Bernadette was born, where she received her baptism and First Holy Communion as well as the apparition site.
Pilgrims travel here from April to October, with the Midleton pilgrimage taking place between 1-6 June each year.
Mary Fitzgerald who is part of a team of 18 who give financial assistance through the Midleton and District Lourdes Invalid fund said:
“It may often be the difference of €100 to €200 that prevent some of the areas sick and elderly in travelling to Lourdes. We gather names of prospective devotees and follow up as a committee.”
Mrs Fitzgerald added “each person would pay a deposit as it’s not seen as a free trip.”
Anyone requiring assistance from the Midleton and District Invalid Lourdes fund can contact, Secretary, Mary McCarthy on 086-8103328 before Friday 9 March for inclusion in this year’s trip.