Fr Conor Cunningham claims to have first-hand experience of the “horrific oppression” brought on by evil spirits and has urged his parishioners to steer clear of “false gods”.
More than 60,000 people attend the Lisdoonvarna event every September, making it one of Ireland’s most successful festivals. It also attracts a hoard of street traders, including food providers, street entertainers, and fortune-tellers.
“Consulting with psychics and fortune tellers is beneath the beautiful dignity and freedom of our Christian faith and can spiritually enslave us,” said the locally based priest.
“As a priest, I have many experiences of encountering people suffering horrific oppression due to evil spirits. It also can cause severe psychiatric damage.
“Since the beginning of the Church, the apostles and their successors have taught it is a very grave sin to consult with psychics and fortune-tellers. In other words, it is a sin so serious that it can cut us off from God’s grace and from a living life-giving relationship with him.”
Fr Cunningham likened having a fortune told to devil-worship. “There are two main reasons why the Church teaches that dabbling with the occult is a mortal sin,” he said. “Firstly, it is to give worship to false gods and to real demons instead of to the one true God. Secondly, it can place our souls in real danger of falling into the power of evil spirits who are actively seeking to lead people to destruction.”
The festival has been taking place in north Clare for more than 150 years and is the country’s oldest matchmaking event. Each year, thousands of singles come to the town to dance and to find a partner.
Difficulties with casual traders has been a growing feature of the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival in recent years.
Ennistymon area councillors of Clare County Council have discussed a number of bylaws to limit the scope of trading during the festival.
The bylaws are generally associated with issues such as noise pollution and late trading our and this is the first instance that the moral and religious leanings of the traders has been called into question.