St. Patrick's Purgatory


About this Item

A visit to St. Patrick's Purgatory at Lough Derg, where pilgrims of all ages engage in ritual prayer and fasting.

  • Title
    Lough Derg Pilgrimage
  • 1st Broadcast
  • Contributor
    Tommy Gorman (Narrator)
  • Clip Duration
  • Material Type
  • Series title
    RTÉ News
  • Clip title
    St. Patrick's Purgatory
  • Extended description

    Tommy Gorman recites an excerpt from the poem 'Lough Derg' by Patrick Kavanagh, which he wrote about a trip to Lough Derg.

    'Solicitors praying for cushy jobs
    To be County Registrar or Coroner,
    Shopkeepers threatened with sharper rivals
    Than any hook-nosed foreigner.
    Mothers whose daughters are Final Medicals,
    Too heavy-hipped for thinking,
    Wives whose husbands have angina pectoris,
    Wives whose husbands have taken to drinking.'

    Gorman describes Kavanagh's rather caustic description of his fellow travellers.

    While the number of foreign tourists to Donegal is in decline, pilgrims from all parts of the country continue to flock to Lough Derg.

    On a windy boat crossing to the island, one woman says that when she goes home, she will be cleansed of all her worries. Another describes Lough Derg as a place of penance and a place of prayer. Another woman says it is her second trip to Lough Derg this year. Another woman says that she is praying for people's intentions and university exams.

    A young priest describes it as an old Celtic tradition related to Saint Colm Cille. He says that people from Derry are very pious and have great faith. He also says that the troubles in Northern Ireland have made people want to get in touch with their roots and their spirituality.

    Once landed on the island, known as "St. Patrick's Purgatory", the visitors, in bare feet, engage in a ritual of prayer and fasting, which dates back to the middle ages. They spend their first night without sleep. For the second and final night there is the offer a bed in the men's and women's hostel. The buildings are currently undergoing a 3.5 million pound reconstruction programme.

    As Lough Derg is in the diocese of Clogher, it falls under the stewardship of Dr. Joseph Duffy, who says that there is something very authentic about Lough Derg that appeals to people of all generations.

  • Information

    A RTÉ News report on a pilgrimage to Lough Derg, Co. Donegal. This report was broadcast on 23 July 1986.

  • Local keywords
    Tommy Gorman, Saint Patrick, Patrick Kavanagh, Lough Derg, Saint Colm Cille,
  • Geographical coverage
  • Topic
    National Holidays, Festivals, Anniversaries, Annual Events
  • Publisher Broadcaster
  • First broadcast channel
    RTÉ One
  • Production year
  • Country of production
  • Original identifier
  • IPR restrictions
    Rights Reserved - Free Access
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  • Item type
  • Item colour
  • Item sound
  • Aspect ratio
  • Language used
    English (eng)
  • Original language
    English (eng)