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Irish priest offers 'takeaway ashes' for Ash Wednesday

by Will Maule
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Credit: Facebook/Clonmany Together

A Catholic priest from County Donegal, Ireland, has made up batches of "takeaway ashes" for parishioners to administer from home this Ash Wednesday. Fr Brian Brady joined forces with a shop in the town of Clonmany to offer the ashes in sauce containers.

Current Covid-19 restrictions mean that all church services across the country must be held online. 

So far, all 600 portions of ashes have been delivered. “We put them in around 9:30am and they were gone by around 11am," he told the Derry Journal, noting his bewilderment at the interest generated by the simple idea.

"It's a new experience formed to have people wanting to talk to me," Fr Brian added to BBC Radio Ulster. "There's been a lot of attention and people want more ashes but can't get them."

The priest said that parishioners would come every year for their ashes, and that it was "important that we honour those traditions - even at these most difficult times".

"We really did have to stretch the old imagination on this one though," he added.

Fr Brian told the Derry Journal that Ash Wednesday was "very important to Catholics".

"It’s great that something is being offered so that we can continue our worship at this time, as our faith is very important," he added.

The day is also celebrated by the Church of England, who have marked the occasion by launching an Instagram filter that applies an ash-like cross to the user's forehead. Amaris Cole, the Church of England's head of digital, told Premier the Church hopes it will lead to people learning something about the cross.

"Traditionally, Christians walk around on Ash Wednesday with the cross on their head and many tell us that they get stopped and asked what that cross means," she said. "So, we're wondering whether the same will happen on social media. Perhaps people will share the ash filter on Instagram and other people might message them and ask what it means to them."

Ash Wednesday marks the first day of lent and commences a season of reflection ahead of Easter. 

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