The visitors from Cavan received a civic reception celebrating 10 years of partnerhip with Kurnach, with which it is twinned. Cathaoirleach TP O’Reilly stands next to local councillor Collette Herrman (nee Duggan), a native of Ballyhaise, and local Mayor, Rene Wohlfart.

Saint’s relics to visit Cavan in October

Dozens of local pilgrims and a delegation from Cavan County Council visited Würzburg last weekend for the Kiliani-Volksfest, to further foster good relations ahead of the relics of seventh century martyr Saint Kilian returning to Ireland later this year.

The major religious and civic event, being organised in partnership between the Diocese of Kilmore, the Parish of Mullagh, and Cavan County Council, will see the jewel-laden skull of St Kilian and those of his martyred colleagues - Saints Totnan and Kolonat - venerated over six days, from October 1-6.

It marks the first time the relics will have left Germany in 1,400 years.

The group from Cavan travelled to Germany last Thursday, July,4, and were due to arrive back on Monday (July 8). However they were caught up in the Aer Lingus pilot strike, and will not now touch home until later this morning (Wednesday, July 10).

The second day of their visit saw the local visitors receive a civic reception from the Lord Mayor of Wurzburg, Christian Schuchardt, before travelling to Kurnach, with which Cavan Town is twinned. There they met local councillor Collette Herrman (nee Duggan), a native of Ballyhaise, and celebrated 10 years of partnership at a Civic Reception hosted by local Mayor, Rene Wohlfart.

On Saturday the group attended the Kiliani-Volksfest, one of the largest and most popular festivals in the Bavarian region. With almost 2,000 participants, the procession of the relics through the streets is an integral part every year, with crowds moving towards the Alte Mainbrücke and finally to the main festival ground on the Talavera.

The two-week festival celebrates the city’s Catholic heritage that started with St Kilian’s arrival to Würzburg circa 686 AD.

Cathaoirleach TP O’Reilly has been to Würzburg on several occasions before, but described this one as “special”.

“It’s one thing being here and seeing the way in which they venerate St Kilian, a native of Cavan and the legacy he left here, this is my fourth trip, but it is a lot different when you’re representing the county as its first citizen, it’s very special,” said Cllr O’Reilly.

After Mass at the Cathedral, Bishop of the Diocese of Wurzburg, Franz Jung, hosted the Cavan group for lunch during where he hailed the “great friendship” that exists between the two regions.

Bishop Jung has himself been recognised for the key role he has played in facilitating the visitation of the relics to Ireland, and to those in attendance he expressed delight that St Kilian would one day soon be back in his home village again.

Irish Ambassador to Germany, Dr Nicholas O’Brien, was also a guest at the dinner.

On Monday morning then, members of the St Kilian’s Trust from Mullagh had an opportunity to visit the diocesan archives.

Some also carried the reliquary at St Bukard’s Church, the first people from Mullagh to do so in its history.

Along with Cllr TP O’Reilly, the council delegation included newly installed chief executive, Eoin Doyle, as well as Cllrs Shane P O’Reilly, Winston Bennett, Carmel Brady, and acting Director of Services Lynda McGavigan.

Former council chief, now retired, Tommy Ryan, was also among those who travelled to Germany.

Mr Doyle told the Celt that he too was pleased to be part of honouring St Kilian’s legacy and to further develop the county’s “civic friendship” with Kürnach and Würzburg and indeed with the Diocese of Würzburg.

“These relationships are particularly significant as we prepare to welcome home the relics of St Kilian and his martyred colleagues Totnan and Kolonat this October in what will be a very special abs historic moment for Cavan and Mullagh,” he stated.

Cllr Shane P O’Reilly, who will serve as Cathaoirleach for the local Ballyjamesduff Municipal District area at a time when Uachtarán na hÉireann, Michael D Higgins, the office of An Taoiseach, and several more heads of State have been invited to Mullagh, expressed delight at the chance to “renew our deep friendship” with Kürnach and Würzburg in this “historic year” when the relics of Mullagh’s great missionary saint will return to his home place for the first time in 1,300 years.

“I and others have worked hard for many years to make this homecoming a reality and I know the people of Mullagh Parish, and the broader Diocese of Kilmore will welcome the three Franconian Apostles and the pilgrims from Germany with open arms this October.”