In an early contribution to the ‘Year of Faith’ in the Derry diocese, a group of pilgrims from Ardmore and surrounding parishes set out on a mission to climb Slemish and to pray there as St Patrick did as a boy slave.
The group of over 30 men, women and children were led by Ardmore parish priest, Fr Neil Farren, who prayed that they would experience God’s presence in the stillness and be refreshed during their time on the County Antrim hill.
He added: “God came to Patrick in the wilderness and spoke to him. We ask for God to send us His Spirit during this Year of Faith.”
The Slemish Turas (pilgrim walk) was the first in a series of Turas Naofa Padraig planned by Ardmore Pastoral Council to take place during the course of the Year of Faith.
There’s another tomorrow - the first pilgrim walk along the Faughan, Turas Domnach Min Cluane, which will start at 2 pm from the car park in St Columb’s Park at Browning Drive in the Waterside.
Fr Farren said: “We will proceed to the Peace Bridge and again cross the River Foyle as Patrick did, coming from the Inishowen area, and then walk to St Brecan’s Old Church in St Columb’s Park for a short prayer service.”
Fr Farren continued: “St Patrick is attributed to bringing Christianity to Ireland almost 1600 years ago, so for the Year of Faith we decided to retrace his journeys once again and invoke his blessing upon us. As well as Slemish and Saturday’s walk, we also hope to visit other sites associated with the Saint in the context of a Turas, locally to the various St Patrick foundations along the River Faughan and also to the Hill of Slane, Croagh Patrick and St Patrick’s Purgatory, Lough Derg.”
Explaining that the Patrician foundations where St Patrick had gathered people together to worship in a church setting were known as ‘Domnach’ (pertaining to the Lord), Fr Farren said: “The exact location of these foundations are unclear but various reliable historians have suggested possible locations.
“The names of the foundations are listed in the work of Tirechan, an Irish scholar who worked between 664-700AD. The names, as given in the Tripartite life of St Patrick, are Domnach Min Cluane, Domnach Senliss, Domnach Dola, Domnach Dari, Domnach Cati, Domnach Senshue and Both Domnach.”
The next walk, the Turas Domnach Senliss, will take place on Saturday, November 24. Gathering beside Mullabouy Cemetery at 2 pm, the group will walk to Gorticross, on the Highmoor Road at Lettershandoney, where there is an ancient cross in a field.
Everyone interested is welcome to take part in the upcoming Turas, particularly those who live in parishes associated with the Churches founded by St Patrick, including Strathfoyle, Waterside, Donagheady (Donemana), Badoney (Plumbridge), Claudy, Banagher, Faughanvale and Ardmore.