This client installation at Lough Derg is quite an unusual one but very exciting one indeed. From some of the pictures in this blog it is not difficult to see why Lough Derg has developed as a significant place of pilgrimage. The setting on an island lends itself to being a place of peace and contemplation.
The Island has been called Lough Derg (Lake of the Cave), Purgatorium Sancti Patricci (St Patrick’s Sanctuary or Purgatory).
Today it is known simply as Lough Derg. The famous Irish text- Acallan na Sanorach (Colloquy of the Ancients) explains the name of the lake (dearg- red) as derived from the blood of the last great serpent, which Patrick slew here. Some recent authorities prefer to read Derg as a form of the Irish deirc, making the name mean: the lake of the cave. Some form of cave on Station Island was the focal point of the pilgrimage until 1780 when a chapel replaced it.
It survives today as a living remnant of the early Irish Church. Historical records date the foundation of the holy Island in Lough Derg back to the 5th Century. History points to there probably being a religious presence around Lough Derg before the time of St Patrick and that it was common for Christians to seek to supplant pagan sites with foundations of their own. A Druidic presence near the lake would explain why a monastery came to be founded here.
The monastery was founded on the island’s adjacent Island where pilgrims make their pilgrimage.
It is known as Saint’s Island and is the location of the early monastery in the 400s. This island is overgrown and not accessible today. Station Island is the place of the famous pilgrimage, it is know locally as Station Island, after the ‘stations’, rounds of prayers that later came to characterise the pilgrimage.
Pilgrims visits are usually for 3 days and they travel bare foot to the island. Once there it is a frugal lifestyle with fasting part of the experience. Just one simple meal a day. Toast is eaten dry and tea or coffee served without milk.
The island Basilica seats 800 so this is not a location for the few but for the many. Our partner supplier in Eire is Jeffers Music of Bandon and they recently provided a new instrument for the Basilica. A Chorum 60 was chosen which plays through 7 external speakers.
Delivery to the island necessarily involves boat trip so this was certainly one of the more unusual deliveries undertaken this year.