The Bishop of Cork and Ross is appealing to parents to be “sensible and moderate” for their children’s First Communion celebrations as several Cork families are currently working with a Liverpool designer to create the perfect dresses for their daughters.
Bishop John Buckley was commenting just weeks ahead of the start of this year’s First Communion season at the end of April. He is urging families to “be sensible and moderate in their celebrations”, and called on families who can afford such expenditure to be sensitive to the circumstances of their children’s classmates.
One dress made by Liverpool-based Thelma Madine, who recently featured on TV3’s series Thelma's Big Irish Communions, was on sale on a classified website in recent days for €1,200.
A spokeswoman for Ms Madine said several Cork families have hired the services of the designer for this year's First Communion season. While she would not reveal the cost of the dresses, designs by Ms Madine cost thousands of euro.
And it has emerged that dresses are being designed by a small number of designers based in Ireland for at least €1,500.
In high street shops in Cork, families are spending up to €500 for dresses that are custom-made for customers.
Parents are also opting for Cinderella-style carriages to whisk their children to the church for the ceremony.
Roy Daly of Castlemartyr company Lily Jane Carriages said the price of a package can range from €600 to €1,100 for a carriage, depending on the requests of the family.
The after-party is also attracting big spending, with some families paying up to €700 for carousel-style bouncy castles for their children’s First Communion party.
A spokesman for Bishop Buckley said the bishop’s wish is for the focus of a child’s sacrament to be on the “encounter between the child and Jesus”.
He said that while it is understandable that families should celebrate a child’s First Communion, anything that “would come between the child and the reception of the Eucharist should be avoided”.
Excessive spending is unwarranted, puts people under pressure and can lead to peer pressure in classrooms, he said.