The Lough Derg Pilgrim Path is the setting for the New Pilgrimage
Update February 2021
Due to the public health restrictions in place from the Irish Government, Lough Derg is currently unable to offer the ‘New Pilgrimage along the Lakeshore’.
The Pilgrim Path remains open for personal prayer and pilgrimage, subject to the travel limitations and other government regulations in force at any given time.
A New Pilgrimage at Lough Derg – Continuity and Change
Lough Derg takes a wholesome pride in its long tradition of pilgrimage. We know from the Annals of the Four Masters that pilgrimage to monastic settings was well established in Ireland by the 700s. By the late 1100s St Patrick’s Purgatory at Lough Derg was one of the most famed pilgrimage destinations in Europe.
The 12th century was a time of new energy for Christian faith in Ireland. As part of this, the Canons Regular of St Augustine replaced the more austere Celtic Rule in the monastery on Saints Island. But some elements of the Celtic spiritual practices still survive in the Three Day Pilgrimage on Station Island to this day: the Cross prayer at St Brigid’s Cross, sustained vocal prayers, and especially the Vigil.
Further change came in the Reformation period. The monastery on Saints Island was dissolved and the community was dispersed. The reformers set themselves strongly against all forms of pilgrimage. But this disruption brought a new development in the Station Prayer, first recorded in a manuscript dated to about 1600. And when pilgrims arrived at the lakeshore to find they were prevented from crossing over to Station Island they made their pilgrimage using the Station Prayer on the lakeshore.
In summer 2020 Station Island had to remain closed in line with public health measures. Encouraged by the many enquiries from pilgrims who were missing their annual visit to Lough Derg, we turned our attention to what we could offer. The inspiration came from those pilgrims who prayed on the lough shore in Penal times, and the outcome was the new ‘Pilgrimage on the Lough Derg Pilgrim Path.’ (The story of the Path is told elsewhere on our website.)
The Prior, Fr La Flynn, has continued to make a weekly pilgrimage along the Pilgrim Path all through the past months.