Church services are streamed live from Lawless funeral home
IN an effort to bring Easter weekend ceremonies to the widest audience possible, church services are being streamed live from a funeral home in Offaly.
Sunday morning Masses celebrated by Fr Martin Carley, PP, Catholic parish of Rahan, and Sunday evening services from Rev Isaac Delamere, Church of Ireland Tullamore Union of Parishes, have been available for viewing through a webcam at the Lawless funeral home in Mucklagh for the last few weeks.
The number of viewers has been increasing each weekend and many more are expected to log on in what is one of the biggest events on the annual church calendar.
Undertaker Tom Lawless first got a webcam installed at his funeral home in Mucklagh in December 2018 through a specialist provider, MCN Media.
Using a password which can be provided by family members of the bereaved, mourners unable to go to a wake have been able to view proceedings on their computer.
“When the coronavirus initially came in I had a funeral and the family said to me could I put it on the death notice that there was to be no handshaking and I was the first to have that put on RIP.ie,” said Mr Lawless.
Since then, funeral attendance has been restricted to as few as 10 people and the diocese of Meath has suspended all public Masses.
Some churches, including the Church of the Assumption in Tullamore, already had a webcam service in place.
Mr Lawless therefore contacted other local clergymen to see if they would be interested in using his viewing room.
He set the altar up close to the camera so the priest can be seen and heard. No password is required by viewers, ensuring the Mass and services are available to anyone across the world with internet access.
Viewing numbers soared from 35 one Sunday to 115 at a subsequent Mass as more and more people logged on.
Fr Carley has been celebrating Sunday Mass at 11am and Rev Delamere's Sunday service has been at 7pm.
This weekend, the Rahan parish Holy Thursday (7.30pm), Good Friday (3pm) and Holy Saturday (7.30pm) ceremonies will be on webcam.
Rev Delamere's Good Friday service will be at 5pm and Easter Sunday service at 7pm.
Though the broadband connection in Mucklagh is not ideal, it has held up fairly well.
“It's very kind and decent of Tom to have this because it gives us an opportunity to be online.”
Because of the cocooning of people aged 70 and older, some priests can neither celebrate Mass in their own church or from the funeral home so Mr Lawless has been attempting to publicise Fr Carley's Mass in neighbouring parishes.
“The best compliment I heard was from the nursing home next door,” said the undertaker. “A couple of residents were watching it and they said, 'There's the local priest' and that means a lot to them.”
The procedure for accessing the webcam is as follows – 1: log onto MCN Media, 2: click Republic of Ireland, 3: click Cameras, 4: click View Funeral Homes, 5: Scroll down to Lawless Funeral Home, 6: Double Click on Lawless Funeral Home.