30 Jun 2018

1 July 2018 - Lough Derg: A sanctuary of extreme relevance in today's world

Lough Derg - the sanctuary of St Patrick has been hosting pilgrims since the 7th century and on this weeks programme Fr Eamonn Conway joins us from Ireland's holy isle to discuss and share how Lough Derg is a sanctuary of extreme relevance in our modern world today.

We have our regular reflection on the Sunday gospel as well as a run through the liturgical odds and ends for the week.

You can listen to the podcast of the full programme HERE.

Lough Derg - One of Ireland's greatest sanctuaries

“No telephones to distract or wireless programmes to assail the nerves. There is a complete absence of the fuss, clatter and compulsory absorption in petty trifles that make up the confusion of everyday life. All that bustle so frequently mistaken for achievement, all that hugger-mugger, is left behind on the mainland and the pilgrim steps into a new air” 

So wrote Alice Curtayne in praise of @lough_derg in 1944 when she attended the three day retreat on Ireland's Holy Isle and she could just as easily be writing about the experience of pilgrims of 2018 and their encounter with St Patrick's Sanctuary.

Fr Eamonn Conway joins the SS102fm team from Lough Derg and takes us through the tradition and the relevance of such a place for those of faith and none.

Saint Patrick’s Sanctuary is located on Station Island in Lough Derg which is four miles north of the village of Pettigo, Co Donegal.  For anyone not familiar with it, it is often referred to as Saint Patrick’s Purgatory or simply Lough Derg.  

The Diocese of Clogher has been the sole custodian of Lough Derg since 1780.  Historical records date the practice of pilgrimage on Lough Derg to the 7th century. Legend also presents the cave on the island (where the basilica now stands) as the place where Saint Patrick had his vision of Purgatory.  Saint Patrick is said to have left a disciple in the area and the foundation of one of the earliest monastic Christian settlements followed. The remnants of the monastic prayer cells remain central to the pilgrimage tradition.  

Today, the Lough Derg Three Day Pilgrimage follows a pattern prayer from the Celtic monastic time and shows remarkable continuity with the earliest systematic account of the pilgrimage, which dates to the 1600s.

That tradition of pilgrimage from the 5th century is alive today with the focus on the basics, going back to being more mindful about the simple things in life with fasting and physical & strenuous activity. But it is not about the hardship it is very much a place of pilgrimage on a holy place where you are called to take off your shoes - you are walking on holy ground linking back over centuries to the time of St Patrick himself. It can be seen as a a spiritual boot camp to help us have the resilience to deal with the Lough Derg's of our daily lives once we come off the island and back into the daily grind of life. Pilgrimage to Lough Derg is not about changing God's attitude to us but rather about us changing our attitude to God.

The Three Day Pilgrimage begins on Lough Derg on 1 June and continues until 15 August 2016. Pilgrims can begin their pilgrimage on any day up to and including 13 August.  During the Three Day Pilgrimage, pilgrims make ‘Stations’: they walk barefoot, kneel on the hallowed beds, fast, pray and keep vigil. 

Once the main pilgrimage seasons finishes there are one day retreats available on the island - check out the website for information.

"Through the centuries it has been a privileged place of encounter with God, a place of healing, a place where people have battled with and defeated their demons, whatever these might be, anything that diminishes us as human beings."

You can listen to Fr Eamonn's interview excerpted from the main programme HERE.

Lough Derg's online presence:


For pilgrims from Limerick who would like to participate in the three day pilgrimage they can contact Fitzpatrick's of Listowel, Co Kerry who run buses up to Lough Derg. Their three Day Pilgrimage dates 2018:

Tuesday 10th – Thursday 12th July
Friday 10th – Sunday 12th August 

For further information and bookings contact 087 3966399 (9am – 6pm)

Gospel - Mark 5:21-43

When Jesus had crossed again in the boatto the other side, a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea.One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward.Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying,"My daughter is at the point of death.Please, come lay your hands on herthat she may get well and live."He went off with him,and a large crowd followed him and pressed upon him.
There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years.She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctorsand had spent all that she had.Yet she was not helped but only grew worse.She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowdand touched his cloak.She said, "If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured."Immediately her flow of blood dried up.She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction.Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him,turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who has touched my clothes?"But his disciples said to Jesus,"You see how the crowd is pressing upon you,and yet you ask, 'Who touched me?'"And he looked around to see who had done it.The woman, realizing what had happened to her,approached in fear and trembling.She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth.He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has saved you.Go in peace and be cured of your affliction."
While he was still speaking,people from the synagogue official's house arrived and said,"Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?" Disregarding the message that was reported,Jesus said to the synagogue official,"Do not be afraid; just have faith."He did not allow anyone to accompany him insideexcept Peter, James, and John, the brother of James.When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official,he caught sight of a commotion,people weeping and wailing loudly.So he went in and said to them,"Why this commotion and weeping?The child is not dead but asleep."And they ridiculed him.Then he put them all out.He took along the child's father and motherand those who were with himand entered the room where the child was.He took the child by the hand and said to her, "Talitha koum,"which means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise!"The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around.At that they were utterly astounded.He gave strict orders that no one should know thisand said that she should be given something to eat.
Reflections on this weeks gospel:

Word on Fire
English Dominicans
Sunday Reflections
Centre for Liturgy

Liturgical odds & ends

Liturgy of the Hours - Psalter week 1

Saints of the Week

July 2nd - St Swithun
July 3rd - St Thomas (Apostle)
July 4th - St Elizabeth of Portugal
July 5th - St Anthony Zaccaria
July 6th - St Monnine of Killeavy (First Friday)
July 7th - St Maelruain (First Saturday)

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