Fr Peytons Rosary Crusade in Ireland -1954-

Rosary Crusade in Ireland

The date is April 25th, 1954. A streamer spans the entrance to Tuam. It reads “Welcome Father Peyton” The boy who, at the age of 19 had left his native Attymass in Ballina was being welcomed back to Ireland as the now celebrated Father Peyton for the initial rally in his native Ireland in his World Rosary Crusade.

He had travelled non-stop from New Zealand where he had addressed a rally the previous Sunday, to keep this appointment with the Archbishop of Tuam. He was returning to the land whose soil, as he well knew, was sanctified by the blood of martyrs for the faith; a land represented at home and abroad by a distinguished band or ecclesiastics.

He was bringing with him what, in the interval, had made him a central figure in the United States, North Africa, Australia and New Zealand. It was not modern invention of the New World – It was the simple rosary beads he had taken with him from his humble, holy home in Attymass, that had remained his greatest treasure and had inspired and sustained his “The Family that Prays Together Stays Together” Crusade.

Father Peyton is a tall  burly man, as kindly as he is persuasive, convincing and impressive in his heart stirring advocacy of the efficacy of devotion to Family Prayer, he won a niche in the affections of the Irish people that will ensure for him their eternal gratitude and remembrance. He brought tears to their eyes and joy to their hearts.

His presence was like a refreshing breeze even on this Island of St Patrick which has built up a great spiritual empire. His rallies, from a numerical viewpoint and the devotion and fervour of those participating were magnificent spectacles that will be spoken of by succeeding generations.

Quoted from “An Irish Independent reporter pens an impression of Father Peyton and his Crusade” Souvenir Edition 1954.

Sixty years ago The Family Rosary Crusade was opened by Most Rev. Dr. Walsh at the G.A.A. Stadium in Tuam on April 25th 1954. For more than an hour before the rally began hundreds of men, women and children formed and walked in procession to the Stadium reciting the Rosary as they went. The Crusade then headed to Clifden where people from all parts of Connemara gathered for the second rally. Next came the Knock rally, which coincided with many special pilgrimages to the Shrine where remarkable scenes of devotion were witnessed throughout the day. The Crusade was now well under way and rallies in Gort, Ennistymon, Galway City, Loughrea, Ballaghaderreen, Roscommon Town and Sligo Town were all held during the month of May.

The Rally came to the diocese of Killala at the beginning of June with rallies in Belmullet and in James Stephens Park in Ballina where about 15,000 people turned up to hear local man Fr. Peyton speak about the Rosary. The Crusade headed north where rallies in Belfast, Ballymena and Downpatrick were held. Further rallies in Navan, Mullingar, Dungravan, Waterford, Clonmel meant that the Crusade had travelled most of the country. The great finale of the Family Rosary Crusade was held on Sunday August 15th, 1954 at Our Lady’s Island, 14 miles from Wexford Town. Over 40,000 people gathered for the 21st and final rally. All throughout Fr. Peyton made pledges to the Irish people to continue on the tradition of praying the Family Rosary

Photographs and descriptions are taken from a souvenir edition of the Irish Independent in 1954.