Parish of Doneraile

Doneraile, Hazelwood & Shanballymore

Carker Mass Rock

A Mass Rock exists at Carker Middle and Mass is celebrated there each year during the month of July.

The Mass Rock at Carker (Carraig an Aifrinn in Irish) was a rock used as an altar in mid-17th century Doneraile as a location for Roman Catholic Mass. Isolated locations like this site in the Parish of Doneraile across the country were sought to hold religious ceremonies, as observing the Catholic Mass was a matter of difficulty and danger at the time as a result of both Cromwell's campaign against the Irish, and the Penal Law of 1695. Irish Bishops were banished and priests had to register to preach under the 1704 Registration Act. Priest hunters were employed to arrest unregistered priests and Presbyterian preachers under an Act of 1709.


In many instances a stone would be taken from a church ruin, and relocated to a rural area, with a simple cross carved on its top. Because the activity was illegal, the services were not scheduled and parishioners would be obliged to spread the word of them informally. By the late 17th century worship generally moved to thatched Mass houses. Some of the Mass rock places may have been used for patterns.

Mass Rock Directional Map 

Carker Middle