BY Peter Diamond | August 30 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Theme of unique Irish pilgrimage to be brought to Scotland for first time

The spirit of Lough Derg will come to Scotland next month as Carfin Grotto hosts pilgrims for fasting, contemplation, and prayer for those who are lapsed in their Faith.

The famous Irish pilgrimage attracts thousands of Catholics each year, and organisers of the Carfin event hope to replicate its success.

Lough Derg in Donegal is best known for St Patrick’s Purgatory, a site of pilgrimage on Station Island in the lake.

The traditional three-day pilgrimage follows a one-thousand-year-old pattern and involves participants only being allowed one Lough Derg meal each day (black tea/coffee, dry toast, oat cakes, water). On arrival on the island, pilgrims remove footwear and socks before commencing vocal prayers, walking around the island.

Utilise Carfin

A 24-hour night vigil then takes place on the first night and generally, pilgrims depart on the morning of the third day having slept on their second night. They complete their pilgrimage fast at midnight the day of departure.

In a couple of weeks a similar pilgrimage is poised to come to Scotland’s National Shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes lasting from 9am to 9pm.

Organiser Joseph Bradley said: “Myself and several friends have attended Lough Derg these past few summers but we all struggled this year to fit it in around work and family holidays.

“Thus Carfin. After all, it’s right on our doorstep. A lovely venue that should be much more utilised by Catholics in Scotland.”


He said the ethos of the event is similar to Lough Derg in that it is ‘about creating a space in time and place.’

“Momentarily, we leave behind our busy lives and focus on what most of us know really counts in life. A little fasting, silence, prayer, togetherness, solitude, listening to some wise words, singing, the Sacraments, and of course the celebration of Holy Mass—all in one day.

“We live in incredibly challenging times in relation to our Faith and the ideologies, values and morals that dominate the world. I know many parents and grandparents seem to spend their time praying for their children and grandchildren, that they maintain or return to the Faith.

“This can be a tall order but is not an impossible task. There are plenty of examples out there that contest the despair many experience. So, come along, bring or send others, young and not so young. We all encourage each other by participating in such occasions.”


The pilgrimage will last 12 hours from 9am to 9pm on Saturday September 14. The day of fast will last 24 hours, from midnight Friday until midnight Saturday.

Pilgrims should arrive at Carfin for 8.45am and the day will begin at 9am at St Francis Xavier Church.

The day will consist of prayer, contemplation, talks—including from SCO columnist Fr Michael Kane—Stations led by new deacon David Harper, Confession, Rosaries and Mass.


The 24 hours will be offered for the strengthening of our Faith and for a return to Faith of those that have lapsed.

One Lough Derg meal will be served at 1pm at the church hall and drinking water is allowed at any point.

Pilgrims should be 14 or over. There is no requirement to register in advance. Mass will be celebrated at 10am and Vigil Mass at 5pm.

The day will conclude at 9pm. For enquiries, contact Joe on 07504 703440.

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