God be with the days… the Marymobile of the 1980s

At a Pro-Life procession in Dublin today, a van with megaphones blared Bible verses to the pedestrians.

It reminded me of the early 1980s, a primitive time before mobile phones with video recorders and Internet memes, when I witnessed a related incident that has been passed on through the generations by way of oral tradition.

In the run-up to the Pro-Life Referendum, a man had parked his car on the pedestrian section in the middle of O’Connell Street, with a statue of Their Lady held upright on the roof rack by some stretchy straps with hooks on the end.

He also had megaphones attached to the roof rack. He was in the driver’s seat, praying through a microphone: “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art Thou, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus…”

When he reached the response part of the prayer, he would hold the microphone back towards two ladies sitting in the back seat, who would lean forward and reply: “Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death, Amen…”

A crowd had gathered. Some were praying along with the occupants of the Marymobile. Some were amused by the spectacle. And one was a policeman trying, unsuccessfully, to persuade the man to move his car as he was causing an obstruction.

Eventually, a police tow truck arrived. The car was slowly hooked up from behind, so that it was now leaning forward on its front wheels, with the occupants and Their Lady facing downwards at an increasingly precarious angle.

As the police slowly towed the car away, the occupants continued to pray. The man was now leaning into the steering wheel for the ‘Hail Mary…’ part, and the two women were leaning over the backs of the front seats for the ‘Holy Mary…’ response.

They returned a few times after that, but with a different tactic. They would slowly drive the car up and down O’Connell Street, with Mary above the car vibrating to the prayers being delivered from beneath her feet.

Those were also the days of the lady who used to sing and dance to the Lord in the middle of O’Connell Street, and the lady with the cross wrapped in tricolour ribbons who used to walk up and down the pavement.

And before that, the days when otherwise rebellious Mods, in I think Wexford but it may have been Waterford, appeared on RTE queuing up to have their scooters blessed by a local priest.

If only we had had the Internet then.

God be with the days… the Marymobile of the 1980s

13 thoughts on “God be with the days… the Marymobile of the 1980s

  1. I also remember this chap well, O’Connor was his name, a Solicitor of sorts, I remember him sitting in a small tent on the median in O’Connell Street at that time with two same ladies playing touchy feely with them.

  2. Brings me back to school, whereone of our teachers who had us at noon once a week would insist on each of us in turn leading the Angelus.

    I’d prepared for the event of being selected for the job. I’d cut out a page from my confirmation book – the page with the words of the Angelus and slipped it into my text book.

    My turn to lead duly arrived. I stood up, with the text on the desk and confidently declared:

    “The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.”

    The usual muttered response ensued.

    I looked down to see the words “Hail Mary . . .”.

    Whoever had put together the book sort of assumed that the words to the Hail Mary would be known to the owner. This was an incorrect assumption in my case. I got as far as “full of Grace” two or three times before an explosion of halitosis-laden invective in my ear from my teacher broght my efforts to a halt.

    The leather ensued, but I rather enjoyed the subsequent notoriety which attached itself to me.

  3. That was TC Gerard O’Mahoney.

    I believe he drives the marymobile around heaven now, annoying bystanders.

    He had strong views on the millennium bug and the Euro as well, maybe in the tradition of a broken clock being right twice a day, he might have had a point about the Euro.

  4. Yes, Padraic, that’s him – TCG O’Mahoney.

    As Dave says, he used to have a tent in O’Connell Street with a shrine to Their Lady, in the run-up to the Pro-Life Referendum. The Council kept taking it down, so he moved the statue onto his car instead and parked it on the pedestrian island in the middle of O’Connell Street.

    He also claimed to have persuaded Dana to run for President. He then organised a prayer campaign to get enough TDs or County Councils to nominate her as a Presidential candidate, and another prayer campaign to have her elected as President.

    This second prayer campaign not only failed to get Dana elected, but it also failed to prevent the car puncture, during the election, that Dana thought was somebody trying to assassinate her.

    What a great country!

  5. Well Michael it worked in the 1980’s (the prayer and people of good will) and we got the life of the unborn child and its mother to be recognised in the constitution. A great piece of true equality! And those children that where spared abortion went on to vote last May for another piece of equality. Remember that always.

  6. @emmanuel
    Are you saying that the results of the referendum in the 1980’s resulted in the outcome of the referendum last year?

    If so, then that’s bizarre thinking. If I’m misrepresenting you, perhaps you could explain further.

  7. I remember the moving statues and as a child asking my teacher (who was a nun) if it was true. In answer she asked the whole class what would happen if they stared at a picture long enough. We all greed that your eyes would get tired and it might appear to change or move.

    It was a very clever way of getting us to reason things out for ourselves and a very wise way to answer a question which could have gotten her into a lot of trouble no matter what answer we gave.

  8. @emmanuel
    So, as I said, if I was misunderstanding then perhaps you could explain further.

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