Cashel, Ferns, Ossory Mothers' Union

Cashel, Ferns, Ossory Mothers' Union
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Welcome to the Cashel, Ferns, Ossory Mothers' Union website. The website will carry news, articles and photographs of Mothers' Union events throughout the United Diocese and also All-Ireland news.

The website will be regularly updated and if any Branch wishes to have an event, article or photograph published on the website please forward it to our Diocesan Secretary, Margaret Jacob. Email:

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Cashel, Ferns, Ossory

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Diocesan Secretary: Margaret Jacob

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Latest News

Lesley Bayley
The Diocesan President of
Cashel, Ferns, Ossory Mothers' Union

A Letter from the Diocesan President ~ Lesley Bayley

Dear fellow members,
The MU article this month is very different to normal (we usually talk about things that are happening in the MU) but that is because it is a Diocesan MU response to our editor’s article on page X related to the Global Day of Action Service that she attended in November in St Canice’s Cathedral as part of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign.

Below is the story of a woman in the diocese who endured an abusive marriage for many years before eventually finding the courage to leave it. She answers, for us, some of the questions that Margaret asks like ‘why don’t women leave?’ The 16 Days of Activism campaign is, as you can imagine, very close to this woman’s heart and she often wishes, she says, that there had been such a thing back then that may have brought her hope, or people like those in the local MU branch who were willing to reach out and help people like her.

This lady would like to answer a few of Margaret’s questions as best she can. You can read her answers below. Thank you to all those who took part in or attended the Global Day of Action Service, to Margaret Jacob for recording it, to the Reverend Richard for hosting us in St. Canice’s Cathedral, to everyone who donated so generously to the local women’s refuges, and to our DCO for writing such an inspiring and thought-provoking article to follow it up.

With every good wish to you all for 2022
Lesley xxx
Diocesan President

Preaching to the converted? Is that what was happening at the Mothers’ Union Global Day of Action Service in St Canice’s Cathedral on Saturday, November 27th?

Sitting there in a pew at the Service of Contemplation and Prayer related to domestic abuse a lot of thoughts ran through my head. The first was that the international title ‘16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence’ is an awful mouthful. There is getting titles politically correct and there is fogging up the topic. 16 DAYS FOCUS ON STOPPING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE has a stronger ring to it but there you go.
Anyway, the service itself was very important. Mothers’ Union (and other) groups the world over were having the same service at the same time and everyone was stopping at three minutes past one for three minutes silence to remember the 1 in 3 women worldwide who will suffer abuse in their lifetime (and also the men who suffer).

It was a moving experience, plugging into that kind of worldwide prayer power which was aided by the silent presence of nine women from our own diocese standing on the stage, some with plaquards appealing for the silence to be broken and that we should open our eyes to the fact that such violence is going on. The statistics on the service booklet were stark reminders…
Part of the service also involved bringing donations for the Women’s Refuges in this diocese. Pyjamas, towels and toiletries were on the list. The Refuges never have enough, they say.

Standing by car boots in the Deanery Orchard car park after the service conversations were had about a few aspects like were we preaching to the converted (were we all giving this support already) and, remembering the prayers, how open would we honestly be to getting involved in a domestic abuse situation to help someone?

The ads on the telly beseech us to intervene and report. How easy is that to do? It can seem a big ask... Is it easier, we wondered, just to pray for women and donate clothes than it is to jump in and help someone who is being abused, to report an incident and face the flack that may come from the aggressor?

Canon Ian Cruickshank (MU Chaplain) painted a few pictures of abuse situations that will linger. Just think of a 50th birthday being anything but a celebration…  He helped us understand why women go back into abusive situations – something that is often difficult for the smug settled to understand.
“The prospect of homelessness keeps people in abusive relationships,” he said.
“The prospect of not seeing their children again keeps them in abusive relationship,” he said…
He encouraged us ‘to be on guard, be alert to help others’. “We may be shouted at or treated frostily,” he continued, “but so what – the abused person needs to hear that someone cares… We can build up trust and help them to seek professional help.”
He asked us to be courageous, not invisible, to confront not ignore. Stir us with a resolve not to be silent. Amen.

Then, still in the car park other feelings leaked in – gratitude that we hadn’t experienced anything like that ourselves, thankfulness for stable homes and good partners in life but wasn’t that a pay-off for us – the negative experience of others just making us bask in the gratitude for our own positive ones?
As I drive home other thoughts sprang (angrily) to mind. What about the abusers? Exactly! Yes, we need special services to pray for strength to intervene and support the abused but don’t we also need to focus on and fund research into why the violence is happening in the first place? What’s going on in these men’s heads?  What part of their upbringing is leading to this violence? How do we change the attitudes? Do mothers have a bigger role in how they bring up their sons to respect women? Are pornography and violent films desensitizing society to violence against women particularly? Do we need, in tandem with highlighting abuse and encouraging people to intervene, to raise awareness about treatment programmes in this diocese for men who want to stop hurting women? Should there be TV ads telling the abusers where to get help? Is there a man reading this who hasn’t been able to control his temper or manipulative personality who knows he needs professional help, right now, to save his marriage and protect his children?  Where can he go to learn how to do that?  Move Ireland (Men Overcoming Violence) is a good start. /  MOVE facilitates men in a weekly group process that involves them taking responsibility for their violence and changing their attitude and behaviour. The family is also provided with information, support and safety planning. Change begins with one wonderful step.

The MU service mentioned above can be viewed on the Diocesan Mothers’ Union YouTube channel. See
It’s well worth a look and a lot of thought.


1.     How open would we honestly be to getting involved in a domestic abuse situation to help someone?
I know from experience very few are willing to get involved, but perhaps that’s as much down to the person being abused as to the people looking on.
One of my late husband’s favourite things to do was to shout at me in public – in the street, in the supermarket, anywhere he had a captive audience. He would start a row over nothing, slowing raising his voice until people started to look at us, and then humiliating me with degrading remarks – while all the time ‘Joe Public’ just looked on and passed by. Never once did I ask a passer-by for help, instead I just tried to walk away, usually with him following on, shouting abuse at the top of his voice. Likewise, I never told any of my family and friends what went on at home, because I was embarrassed and somehow thought it must be my own fault, that something I had done had caused his behaviour.

2.     Why do women go back into abusive situations?

As Canon Ian said in his reflection many stay or go back because of the fear of homelessness or never seeing their children again, but I stayed because I could see no way out! Perhaps it was my upbringing or the way things were back then, but I felt that I had married him, I had taken vows which said ‘for better or worse’, and so I was bound by those vows to stay, no matter how much worse it got.
Anyway, in order to leave I would have had to tell people what was going on, and that would have been even more humiliating than living with the abuse. It is hard to understand when you are not in the situation, but you really can see no way out. When you are constantly being beaten down, told how worthless you are and how no-one would believe you anyway, you start to believe all of that instead and so you stay, because what else can you do?
It may seem strange to those outside the relationship, but throughout it all I still loved him. There were times when everything was great, and I could still see that kind, sensitive man inside him, but there were so many times when I wished he would just carry out his ever-present threat and kill me, because at least then I would have been free.

3.     What about the abusers? What’s going on in these men’s heads?
That’s a hard one to answer, how does anyone know what’s going on in someone else’s head? But my experience was that he always thought he was in the right, no matter what the situation. I never knew from one moment until the next what would happen on any given day. I had known this man for four years before we got married and in all that time we had only had one small quarrel. Yet during our honeymoon he threatened to kill me with a bread knife, and from then on every day was like walking on eggshells. I could spend hours cooking something nice for him to just throw it in the bin or at the wall, all because there wasn’t enough salt for his taste. The remote control would be aimed at my head because I asked to have the TV channel changed, or I would be verbally abused as to how useless and worthless I was because I said something he didn’t like or agree with. I was isolated and cut off from my family and friends, and my every move had to be reported to him for approval. And when mobile phones came on the scene, there was no escaping him, as he would constantly text and call me throughout the day, and if I was a minute late home from work or shopping a full interrogation would take place.
He died many years ago, and although I was sad, the overwhelming emotion I felt was relief. I had not seen this man for nearly 30 years, yet he still had an invisible hold on me, which made me look over my shoulder whenever I was in the area I previously lived. But now at last I can live my life for me, fully and freely
I don’t know why people feel the need to abuse others, is it to make themselves more powerful, to build up their own egos? Who knows except those carrying out the abuse? The 16 Days of Activism may have a convoluted title, but the focus it brings onto this ongoing social issue cannot be understated. I am very glad that members of the Mothers’ Union continue to come together to highlight it every November and December, and that they look for other ways to help the victims/survivors throughout the year.
*some details have been changed

Click on the image above too view the service for Global Day

Click on the image above to download the January 2022 Newsletter

See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
Isaiah 43:19

Loving Lord, transform our lives
that we may reflect the glory of Christ
and share his love in the world.

You are the potter, Lord,
and in your skilful hands
even the unlikeliest of clay
becomes a thing of beauty
and useful, bringing glory
not to the pot, but its creator.

So take these lives, this clay,
and in your loving hands
transform and make us
into what we long to be;
made useful, Lord, for you.
Transform our struggles
into victories.
Transform our doubting
into certainty.

Transform our stumbles
into confidence.

Transform our sorrow
into worshipping,
gracious God, we pray.
© John Birch

Mothers' Union Video

Click on the Mothers' Union emblem below to see the video highlighting the work of Mothers' Union which was filmed at the Triennial Conference in Termonfeckin in March 2017

The video features members of Mothers' Union from around Ireland telling all about the organisation and the many different projects supported by Mothers' Union both here at home and in Third World Countries.

One of the clips features our very own Joan Blake who can be seen knitting a matinee jacket and talking about the Mothers' Union Knitting Project

Click on the image below to bring you to a message from
Sheran Harper ~ Worldwide President

Below also is a link to the main Mothers' Union
Facebook Page

The All-Ireland Facebook Pages

Click on the image below to bring you to the
All-Ireland You Tube Channel

Cards & Gifts

Available from
*  MU Enterprise Stall  *

If anyone wishes to order cards or items from Phyllis Foot from the Mothers' Union Enterprise Stall please contact

Click on the image to bring you to a page dedicated to Mums in May on
The All-Ireland website

Phyllis' Armchair Quiz

to raise funds for Mums in May
Congratulations to the winners:
Heidi Hosford, Cork
Loftus Warren, Athy.
Click on the image to access the answers

Carol Concert 2021
Click on the image above
to  view the Carol Concert
Mothers’ Union Holy Communion Service
Thursday 13th January 2022
As Christ Church Cathedral will be closed during trhe first week in January the Dean has suggested to Canon Robert Deane that we go ahead and change our date to the following Thursday, 13th Jan 2022, at 11.15am.

It is hoped that the service will be available to view on the Cathedral's Facebook page and it will also be uploaded on to our own Youtube channel.

Christ Church Cathedral

June's Walk in Kilkenny
June Butler's first walk in the Diocese took place in Kilkenny on Thursday 8th June. We are very grateful to Florrie Carter and her team in Kilkenny Mothers' Union for all of the time and effort they put in to ensure that everything ran smoothly. Those participating enjoyed a lovely walk over the new bridge, by the river and on to the Castle Grounds before returning to the cathedral. Pat Nolan accompanied us on the walk giving an interesting account of all of the historical areas we passed. Sam Harper met up with us en route and provided same lovely ice-cream for refreshments. Some of the walkers had other commitments and were unable to continue on the walk but eight completed it. We were delighted that Bishop Michael Burrows was able to join us for the walk too.
Our thanks to the ladies from Kilkenny MU for all of the hospitality they provided both before and after the walk.

June thanked everyone for their support and welcome to Kilkenny. Florrie Carter, Branch leader, presented June with a small token to mark her visit to Kilkenny.
June's Second Walk ~ Tintern Abbey
June Butler's second walk in CFO took place on Monday 12th July at Tintern Abbey near Saltmills in Co. Wexford. The weather forecast for the morning was miserable but thankfully it turned out to be fine and a lovely day for walking. It was wonderful to meet up with so many members before eight set off to complete one of the longer walks through the woods.

June was delighted to meet up with Bea Thorpe in the walled gardens and have a chat with her. Three ladies set off with June to complete a further two kilometers so as to achieve her 7km target on each walk. When we arrived back in the car park we met up with Anne Barrett, a former All-Ireland President, and our own Phyllis Grothier, who was the previous All-Ireland President, was also present.

Our thanks to Olive Thorpe for her work in arranging the walk and to everyone who attended Tintern Abbey on the day.
Walk No. 3 in Cashel, Ferns, Ossory

June's third walk in Cashel, Ferns, Ossory, the final walk of her series for Mums in May 2021, took place on Tuesday 26th October. The venue for the walk was the Railway Walk in Tinahely. We were delighted that many from the Diocese were able to attend as well as Sylvia Wheatley (Diocesan President of Meath & Kildare) with some of her family and also the All-Ireland Treasurer, Revd. Ken Rue. June began by thanking everyone for coming to join her on the walk and Revd. Rue led us in prayer. Lesley Bayley, Diocesan President of CFO, also welcomed June to Tinahely for her final walk before a group headed off on the walk led by local MU member, Hazel Stedman.

Four walkers completed just over 7kms with June through a lovely tranquil area of woodland and admiring the lovely autumnal colours of the trees. They met up with those who had completed a shorter walk on their return to the car park. A group then adjourned to the D'Lish Cafe in Tinahely for lunch.
Mums' Marvellous Meals

The Mothers' Union  Cookbook, "Mums' Marvellous Meals", was launched at our Special Council  meeting on 22nd June. Copies will be delivered to the Dioceses over the  next couple of months.

The  Cookbook contains recipes from members from all over Ireland and is  divided into different sections ~ Starters, Main Courses, Desserts and  Traditional Irish Recipes.

The Cookbook will go on sale for £ 5 or € 5 and all proceeds will go to the "Mums in May" fund.

Click on the image below to view a video of pages from the Cookbook

Competition Time & Mums in May 2021

Throughout the last year All-Ireland Mothers' Union has organised many different competitions to challenge members creativity. The results of all of these competitiones may be found on the "Competition" page of the All-Irealnd website. Click on the link below to bring you to this web page.

We are delighted that two members from Cashel, Ferns & Ossory received Highly Commended for their mascots in the Mascot Competition~ Dorothy Langley from Cashel Mothers' Union and Joan Blake from Ballycanew, Leskinfere & Monamolin Mothers' Union. You can view pictures of their entries below and pictures of all of the entries on the All-Ireland website.

Congratulations to Phyllis Grothier from Tullow Branch who won first prize for the Prayer she composed and to The Very Revd. Tom Gordon who got Highly Commended for his Hymn. All of the prize winning hymns and prayers are on the All-Ireland website

There is a dedicated page for Mums in May 2021 on the All-Ireland website and it will document all of the various fundraising events as well as June's walk ~ "21 in 21" Click on the link below to bring you to the webpage.

Hymn by The Very Revd. Tom Gordon
Leighlin Branch
God who is Father of infinite goodness,
God who is Mother and called us to birth,
God, who in Christ, broke the chains that had bound us,
Freed us for kindness, for joy and for mirth

God of all tenderness. God of all tenderness
Grace overflowing which reaches to all.
Bread for our hunger, rich wine at your banquet,
Each has a place who responds to your call.
God who is Spirit, expectant before you,
Raise from our brokenness beauty and love.
From the dry bones of our sin and divisions,
Mould us in gentleness born from above. Refrain.

Break through the times when we limit your mercies.
Rise like the sun beaming measureless grace.
Help us with joy to proclaim love’s endeavour -
All now are welcome in Jesus’ embrace. Refrain.

Tune: To the Hymn Great is the Faithfulness
Winning Prayer ~ Phyllis Grothier
Tullow Branch

Loving Lord, I bring my prayer to you  through faith in your love and mercy.

Father forgive and help me to do better: for the times when I  cause hurt either through my words or actions; when I do not recognise you in the face of my neighbour, when I see another human being as different or of less value. Teach me to show love and mercy.

Father forgive and help me to do better: for the times when I see need and do not respond, hear hurtful words and do not call them out, am deaf to the cries of the hungry, hurt and abused. Teach me to show love and mercy.

Father forgive and help me to do better; for the times when I treat your creation as a personal possession  rather than a fragile resource to be nurtured and valued . Teach me to show love and mercy.

Teach me to remember always that, while  faith, hope and love abide, the greatest of these is love. Inspire  me with the confidence to live this truth in my daily life both in word and action, knowing that all I am or can be is based on the strong foundation of God’s saving love.   In Jesus’ name I pray.

Highly Commended ~ Joan Blake
Ballycanew, Leskinfere, Monamolin MU

Highly Commended ~ Dorothy Langley
Cashel MU
Getting to know our Founder In Ireland
Annabella Hayes
1847 – 1921
Mothers’ Union was founded in Raheny, Dublin in 1887 by Mrs Annabella Hayes.  As we celebrate the 100th Anniversary of her death, let’s learn a little more about our founder.  
Canon and Mrs Hayes liked to travel and visited Norway, Switzerland and Canada. After their daughter Marie's untimely death in Delhi in 1908 aged 33, they travelled to Delhi to visit the hospital where Marie had worked for the previous three years and to meet people she had worked with. Later Annabella edited and published letters which Marie had written to home. Marie's final letter, sadly, arrived some weeks after the fateful telegram giving news of her death had been received in Raheny. The Hayes memorial cross in Raheny village was erected some years later.
Annabella was born in Dublin in 1847, the daughter of Thomas Edkins Willson of Upper Mount Street. In December 1866 she married the Reverend Francis Carlile Hayes who was then curate in Sandford Parish Church. She was nineteen years old and he was twenty-eight.
In 1867 he was appointed curate of St. Andrew's Church, Suffolk Street, and their first child, Ernest William Carlile Hayes, was born in February 1868. In 1873, Sir Arthur Edward Guinness (later Lord Ardilaun) appointed him Rector of Raheny Parish and he and Annabella moved to the Glebe House where they were to remain for the next forty-five years.

Their second child, Marie Elizabeth (always known as May) was born in May1874, and in April 1878 her sister Ethel Clara Ridley was born. A boy, Maurice, was born in 1886 but sadly died in infancy. Ernest went to school at St.Columba's and an English governess, Connie Gibbs of Willesden, was appointed to look after the education of the two girls.

In 1887 Annabella Hayes set up the first branch of the Mothers' Union in Raheny, inspired by what Mary Sumner had done in England eleven years before. Little did either of them know that in the twenty-first century world-wide membership of M.U would have grown to over four million.

Francis and Annabella were still in the Raheny Rectory when they celebrated their Golden Wedding in 1916. Canon Hayes retired in 1918 and he and Annabella moved to 12 Northbrook Road which was apparently owned by Francis since his days at St. Andrew's. Annabella survived a bad bout of 'flu shortly after they moved, but was taken ill again about a year later. She was diagnosed with liver cancer and died at home on the 7th February 1921.
Annabella was buried in St. Fintan's Cemetery in Sutton and her headstone (and that of Francis) stands at the highest point of the Cemetery. It is, however, not made of stone but of wood - teak, and despite its having stood there for 100 years there is absolutely no sign of decay in the timber. Mothers’ Union in Ireland had planned to do some restorative work to her gravesite during 2021 but has been put on hold because of Covid 19 restrictions.

Annabella was 74 when she died on 7th  February 1921 and Francis was 94 when he died on 12th December 1931.

Click on the photograph of Annabella to bring you to a dedicated page
on the All-Ireland Website covering the centenery celebrations.

Mother's Union at Synod 2019

Many members from the Diocese attended the General Synod in the Millennium Forum, Derry/Londonderry, 16th – 18th May. Some of our members appear in the picture on the left at the Mothers' Union stand at Synod, along with the All-Ireland President, June Butler. The Mothers' Union stand is always very popular and does a great deal to promote the work of Mothers' Union at home and abroad.

We were delighted that our website was awarded the runners-up prize for websites in "The Affiliated Associations" section. Lesley Bayley, our Diocesan President, was present at a function in The Guild Hall to collect the award.
The winning website in this section was Dublin/Glendalough Mothers' Union.

The judges had the following to say about the website:

‘… a website packed with information about the work of the Mother’s Union. It is kept up to date and gives a good sense of the identity and the work of the organisation.’


We pray that our God will make us fit for what he’s called us to be,
that he’ll fill our good ideas and acts of faith with his own energy
so that it all amounts to something.

As our lives honour the name of Jesus,
may he honour us, by his grace; our God giving himself freely,
the Master, Jesus Christ, giving himself freely. Amen

Based on 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 (The Message)

MULOA is a new initiative from Mothers' Union
which aims to look at Mothers' Union going forward.
You will be hearing a lot about it at Branch Level in the coming months.
Click on the MULOA symbol to see a short video about this initiative.
Mothers' Union Theme 2022

Transformation - Now!

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