A bit of history
Today's picture is of a bit of history. It's a flag flown at the 1932 Eucharistic Congress in Dublin, one of the very first (if not the first) international events to be held in the recently independent country. A quarter of the Irish population attended the mass at the Congress. It is an event seen by some as cementing the relationship between church and state in Ireland. It was rediscovered today in the Catholic Library in Dublin (which I visited this afternoon - the librarian was kind enough to show it to me). The library itself is a fascinating window on societal change in Ireland - not long ago 200,000 people would come every year to the library but that has changed dramatically given the switch from book to internet and the challenges faced by the church as well.
This was the second last day of my pilgrimage and in many respects it has been a day of reflection. If there has been a theme, it would be change and transition. I had the opportunity after lunch to pop in to the Capuchin Friary - the Capuchin Day Centre has been one of my mainstays for food - and to thank the friars and also find out more about the Day Centre service. I was blown away by the scale, with 600 people being fed for lunch each day and 2,000 receiving food parcels and another 400 receiving 'children's parcels' (e.g. nappies and appropriate food) each week. There has been a big growth in recent years reflecting the growing homelessness problem, with families being one of the groups that's seen the biggest increase. It is a multi-million euro operation, with only a small fraction coming from the public purse (something like 15%) via the city council. The rest comes from donations. Perhaps the most heartening thing was that there is a waiting list for volunteers - proof if anything of that 'power of good' I was talking about the other day.
I also did my last big walk today - about 20km all in. The second picture is of a statue of Our Lady, paid for by dock workers in the 70s and 80s, which stands on the northern wall at the entrance to Dublin harbour (you can see the Poolbeg lighthouse on the other side - my entry for July 8th). It looks out over the port and is a sign again of changed times - it's construction is very much from a different era it seems.