The small congregation gathered for daily mass at Cork's North Cathedral this morning gave a heartfelt round of applause to their parish priest as he welcomed them back after 24 weeks.

Just under 50 mass-goers and stewards jointed Fr Damien O'Mahony for today's 10.15am mass at the city's Roman Catholic cathedral, St Mary and St Anne's.

An emotional Fr Damien told those gathered that he wished they could see the smile on his face hidden by his mask.

"Its a great day of hope, a great day of joy, especially for you to be here, and for us your clergy."

"It really is great to be here this morning".

It has been 135 days since a public mass has been held at the Cathedral.

Among those attending the service was Frances O'Rourke, who was helping to steward people to their seats.

"St. Stephen's Day was the last day we had mass here. It's tough but it is grand to be back."

She said she was delighted to be back: "I've a halo!"

From today, 50 mourners can also attend a funeral, and 50 guests can attend a wedding ceremony.

Sr Anne, a member of a community of seven nuns at nearby St Vincent's Convent she said she was delighted to be back.

"You miss the people they are so friendly, they always say good morning and how are you and see you later, you'd miss all that.

Her friend Chris O'Sullivan said she was very pleased that she would be able to receive Holy Communion once more.


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Mass being celebrated at Saint Mary's Pro Cathedral in Dublin