THOUSANDS of worshippers attended religious ceremonies in Tullamore over the Christmas period.
One of the largest gatherings was for the 6.30pm Christmas Eve Mass in the Church of the Assumption, where in excess of 2,500 people took up every available space in the church. Other Masses were also packed.
Meanwhile a service from the Presbyterian community in Tullamore was broadcast on RTE television on Christmas Day, with Rev. William Hayes conducting.
Giving one of the reflections was Eleanor Dwane Smyth from Park Avenue, who spoke powerfully on the Virgin Mary, referring to her as a strong and revolutionary woman.
The ceremony was greatly enhanced by the singing of the Glor children's choir under Musical Director, Ciaran Brady, who is the director of the Academy of Music in Tullamore.
St Catherine's Church at Hophill in Tullamore had a traumatic year, with a large number of windows smashed in an act of vandalism early November. The Rev Canon Isaac Delamere said Christmas services went on as normal.
''The windows are boarded up at the moment. The wood has to be repaired and painted and it will probably be the Spring time before that is done,'' he said.
''We have been so conscious of the generosity of people. And Christmas is a lovely opportunity to give thanks for that and for people 's kindness and goodness,'' he said.