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Cloughjordan and Jordan celebrate their links

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Cloughjordan and Jordan celebrate their links thumbnailMembers of the local clergy blessed the Jordan Stone in an unusual and symbolic ceremony in Cloughjordan on Thursday evening. The lightly-coloured stone can be seen in the picture.

Thursday evening October 4 was a special evening in Cloughjordan because a number of dignitaries arrived in the village to celebrate an ancient link, in a ceremony which was filled with positive symbolism and which focussed on extending the hand of friendship between different traditions and faiths.
One of the dignitaries was Ramsey Khoury, the Honorary Consul of Ireland in Jordan, who flew from Amman, the capital of Jordan, especially for the occasion. Mr Khoury spoke in glowing terms of the Irish people and of Irish culture. He said the Jordanian Government had sourced a stone taken from Bethany, the spot where Christ was baptised, beside the River Jordan, and he presented it to the village of Cloughjordan.
There was a large gathering at the ceremony, in spite of the very poor weather, and the symbolism and beauty of the event wasn't lost on those present.
This unusual event has its roots in a conversation between two Cloughjordan people four years ago, Seamus Costello and Gearoid O Foighil. Both men have a deep love of local history and they were both very taken with the exotic and unusual nature of part of the village's history.
It's believed that the origin name story for the village is connected with the original Anglo-Norman Manorial settlement and the then resident Knight, De Marisco, Seignior of Latteragh and Nenagh. Recorded tradition states that De Marisco went on crusade to the Holy Land and brought back with him a stone from the sacred river Jordan. It was said that he used this stone in the construction of his castle, placing it over the doorway, and it was from this that the village got its name - Cloch Shi˙rd-in - the Stone of Jordan.
De Marisco's castle no longer exists but the site was probably used by the O'Carrolls for their subsequent castle, part of which still exists in the walls of present day Cloughjordan House.
As a result of Seamus and Gearoid's conversation, the Cloughjordan Community Development Committee contacted the Jordanian authorities in the hope that this story could be marked and celebrated in some way. The Jordanian authorities responded very positively. It was obvious to everyone that given the current ideological darkness in parts of the Middle East and the negative impacts of that, here was a chance to do something good and decent; to create positive social and cultural links between peoples.
A few months ago the Jordanian Government sourced a stone from the river at žBethany Beyond the JordanÓ and posted a video of this on youtube.
In July the Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney visited Jordan as part of the process to open a new Irish Embassy in Amman and he was surprised when he unexpectedly heard Cloughjordan being referred to by Jordanian Government officials at a state banquet he attended in Amman.
The Irish Government have enjoyed a positive political relationship with the Kingdom of Jordan for many years. When RTE television was launched in 1960 the first person to address the nation was President De Valera; the guest head of state and second person to address the nation was King Hussein of Jordan.
Another local historical connection relates to the time of the O'Carroll chieftains' reign in Cloughjordan (and surrounding region) and their liking of wine imported from the Lebanon-Jordan area.
Also present on Thursday evening was Joe Geoghan, the Honorary Consul of Jordan in Ireland. Joe and Ramsey, the two Consuls, presented the Stone of Jordan to representatives of the local churches, who were also representing the people of Cloughjordan. The three clergy were Fr Pat Greed, the recently appointed PP for Cloughjordan, the local Methodist Minister Rev Shannon De Laureal, and the local Church of Ireland Minister Terry Mitchell. They formally blessed the Bethany Stone.
Also present was His Excellency Se-n O Regan, the Ambassador of Ireland to Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon; Penelope Shahib, the CEO of a large pharmaceutical company in Jordan; Rania Khoury, Ramsey's daughter; Cllr Mattie Ryan, Chairman of Tipperary County Council, and other councillors and members of the Council executive.
After the ceremony everyone adjourned to the beautifully appointed Cloughjordan House where the welcoming hosts were Peter and Sarah Baker. The two Consuls presented to the audience in Cloughjordan house a talk about the connections between Ireland and Jordan. Music and dancing followed. The Frank McGrath North Tipperary senior hurling Final Cup was also present, and everyone was obviously very proud of it, and there was a short hurling skills display.
Speaking to the Tribune, Seamus Costello said it is CCDC's intention to place the sacred stone in a public place, probably at the entrance to the Ecovillage on Main Street. They are seeking suggestions from local artists as to how it could be displayed. žWe would like it to be appropriately lit, perhaps placed on a plinth, and for seating to be provided. Not everyone visits a museum so we thought a public place would be better. Our idea is to create a peaceful place with a sense of the stone's sacred quality and its symbolic quality."

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