A group of children have made their First Holy Communion virtually today - from the comfort of their own homes.

Ten students from three different primary schools in Lusk, north Co Dublin – Hedgestown, Corduff and Educate Together – took part in a special video link-up with local parish priest Fr George Begley officiating via webcam.

Catholic Communion ceremonies had to be cancelled nationwide due to the coronavirus pandemic restrictions.

Jane O'Kelly was among the parents whose children enjoyed the online ceremony. "My daughter Laoise made her First Holy Communion and it was a lovely occasion.

"She recorded a prayer of the faithful earlier and I whatsapped the video to Fr George who played it during the Communion Mass .

"Other children recorded prayers too.  Everyone got involved."

Laoise, 9, a pupil at Hedgestown national school, wore her Communion dress and was joined by her proud dad Aidan and sisters Moya, 6, and one-year-old Sinead while mum Jane gave her the Eucharist.

Laoise O'Kelly dressed up for her First Communion at her home in Lusk, Co Dublin

"Fr George consecrated the hosts at an earlier mass today and then families were given different time slots to collect them."

Fellow Hedgestown parent Anna Marsella Horan, whose son Sebastian, 8, also took part in the virtual service, revealed that all the parents had trained in the local church on how to dispense Communion to their child.

Sebastian Horan celebrated his First Communion today by video link

"It was explained that our child has to say 'Amen' and we were shown how to place our hands correctly for when we gave them the Eucharist."

Anna, her husband John and older sons Luke, 14 and Matthew, 12, enjoyed a party at home to celebrate Sebastian's special day. 

Fr George Begley said he was delighted with how the virtual Holy Communion service went. "The parish pastoral council decided to offer local families the option of waiting for a physical celebration or going ahead with one by video link.

"The parents of ten pupils took up the offer of a virtual Communion. It gave me a real sense of what the early Catholic church must have been like, when people gathered for mass in each other's homes.

"I have not heard of this happening anywhere else and perhaps not every parish would give their blessing but it worked well for us."

Fr George said that holding virtual Confirmation ceremonies would be more difficult. "You have to anoint the child with oil and that would be problematic with social distancing."