Pilgrimages

On Inis Mór, Aran Islands
Pilgrimage Guide: Dara Molloy

"No angel who ever came to Ireland to help Gael or Gall returned to Heaven without first visiting Aran, and if people understood how greatly the Lord loves Aran they would all come there to partake of its blessings."

Cormac mac Cuilennáin, King-Bishop of Cashel, died 908 A.D.

Pilgrimages to Aran are my speciality. I delight in bringing people to the sites and talking to them about the Irish spiritual heritage. I am constantly reading and writing about the subject and am as informed as I possibly can be.

  • As part of my service to you and your group as pilgrims, apart from talks while visiting the sites, I will lead you in prayer, traditional ritual, and ceremonies including a form of Eucharist, if you so desire.
  • You may also visit our our two centres on the island An Charraig and Killeany Lodge.
  • The book that I have written, Legends In The Landscape, is a detailed introduction to Inis Mór as a place of pilgrimage. Why not order a copy in advance? It will help you plan your visit. If you are bringing a group, an advance copy to each of your pilgrims will prepare them for their visit and help them to get the most out of it.
  • Another book I have written is The Globalisation of God: Celtic Christianity's Nemesis. This is a history of Celtic Christianity in the context of the global ambitions of the Roman Church.
  • I will help with the logistics of bringing a pilgrim group to Aran. I can advise on travel, accommodation, meals, transport on the island and costs.

Inis Mór has 27 nationally protected monuments - more than anywhere else its size in Ireland or even in Europe . Most of these monuments are spiritual sites, dating back to the early Celtic monastic period or even further back to the pre-Christian and even pre-Celtic times.

 

A pilgrimage to Inis Mór is a very rich experience. With an informed guide, your visit will immerse you in Celtic spirituality in its pre-Christian and Christian phase.

For people who visit Aran for a few days as part of a longer pilgrimage to many places, the Inis Mór experience is usually the highlight of their trip.

 

The island of Iona in Scotland is a famous place of pilgrimage for those interested in Celtic spirituality. Yet it only ever had one monastery associated with it. Of course, part of the attraction there is the stature and heritage of St Columcille (Columba) himself.

 

However, on Aran there are the visible remains of 10 monasteries. Included at these sites are holy wells, standing stones, a sundial, Celtic crosses, burial places of saints, hermit cells (clochans), a round tower, oratories and churches.

Aran also has a rich oral tradition of stories associated with the twelves saints that are still remembered as having lived or visited here in those golden years.

 

Place names on the island link us to those times. On certain dates in the year, holy places are traditionally visited by the locals. People continue to visit holy wells and do the 'rounds'. Children on the island are named after the local saints.

   

Aran is a place where the remnants of the rich Celtic spiritual tradition are still alive among the people. The people speak Gaelic as their mother tongue, a language that is full of prayers, blessings and references to God and Mary as part of daily speech.

Writing personally, Aran is a place that left me spellbound when I first visited it in 1982. It put me in touch with a part of myself that I had not known existed. It brought that part of me to life, and it is that part of me that now forms the centre of my life.

As a result of my visit to Aran in 1982, I came back to Aran at the beginning of 1985 to live as a Celtic monk. I have been here since and have never looked back.

Aran is that sort of place. It has a profound effect on many people who visit, whether they come with a conscious spiritual intent or not.

The first monastery on the island was founded by St Enda in 485 A.D. He, like me, was someone who came to the island to live in his early to mid-thirties. Enda's monastic foundation became a beacon that drew aspiring monks, women and men, from all across Ireland. This is why so many monasteries were established on the island - to cater for the numbers.

Enda's foundations on Inis Mór lasted for 1100 years. In the course of this time, Aran became the prime location for pilgrimage within Ireland . An old saying said: If you cannot visit Rome or Jerusalem , visit Aran.

In Irish history, St Enda has earned himself the title 'Patriarch of Irish Monasticism'. His feast day is March 21st.

 

See also Facebook Pages:

Celtic Spirituality - Dara

Tour and Pilgrim Guide - Dara

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