The moving statues phenomenon occurred during the summer of 1985 where, in several different parts of the country, statues of the Virgin Mary were reported to move spontaneously, writes MARY WALL


If you travel about one kilometre along the Ballinspittle to Kinsale road in Cork you’ll come across what seems like a regular, if very beautiful grotto, one of many that were once seen dotted around the country and were part of most parishes.

Many, like the one in Ballinspittle, were constructed around 1954 to mark the Marian Year of dedication to Our Lady and in 1987 Pope John Paul II also dedicated that year as a Marian Year of prayerful devotion.

The grotto in Ballinspittle is a very special roadside shrine. The grotto is a small elevated shaded place with a life size statue dedicated to Our Lady nestled in the centre. The statue was sculpted by Maurice O’Donnell and painted blue and white with a circle of lights around her head, resembling a crown.

It’s surrounded by flowers and colourful shrubs which are meticulously maintained by dedicated locals and is a genuinely peaceful and beautiful place.
Facing the grotto on the opposite side of the road is a grassy hill where people come, sit, pray or to just quietly reflect.

On Monday 22nd July, 1985 a local caretaker at the site was placing some fresh flowers and witnessed something extraordinary. Along with her two daughters, they saw the statue of the Blessed Virgin become life-like, breathing and with both hands moving. She was one of the first people to witness the event.

As word spread, people arrived, many also claiming to have seen the statue moving. Mention of similar sightings in other parts of the country were also being recorded, and so was born the phenomenon of the so called “moving statues’.

Ireland in 1985 was in deep recession and emigration was accepted as the only way out for many young people. Families too were forced to leave in order to build a better life. When word of this strange occurrence spread throughout Ireland and further afield, it created a welcome distraction.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own