St Louis Grammar School
Ballymena
Promoting Excellence, Endeavour and Empowerment

Pilgrimage to Lough Derg

29 Jun 2017

At the end of June following our exams a group of nine upper sixth students along with Mrs O’Neill and Miss Bigmore set off on a three day pilgrimage to Lough Derg in County Donegal. Lough derg is a religious pilgrimage site dating back to the sixth century and believes self-sacrifice and removal from the everyday rush of the in order to bring you closer to God.

Following a two hour bus journey and a short ferry ride we arrived on the island. On arrival we made our way to our dormitories to remove our socks and shoes before making our way outside to begin our silent prayer walking barefoot outside around the rock beds. Following completion of our first three stations, we were treated to a ‘Lough Derg meal’ of dry toast and black tea (having been fasting since mid-night this proved to be more of a treat than it sounds).

At 10pm on the first day we began our 24 hour vigil; throughout the night we were faced with the challenge of staying awake while completing stations four to seven inside the basilica, bringing us right up to 6am mass. Throughout the second day we had the opportunity to take time to ourselves to relax and enjoy the peacefulness of the island (while trying to keep ourselves awake with varying degrees of success!) and following 9pm prayer we were finally permitted sleep for the first time in two days. On the third day following 6am mass and the completion of one final station outside, we were finally reunited with our socks and shoes before returning to the mainland and the stresses of everyday life.

Despite the hardships we were faced with throughout our time on the island, Lough Derg provides us with the opportunity to get away from the stresses and worries of the everyday world, become closer with God and provided us with a sense of peace and tranquillity like no other. On reflection of our time on the island we are all in agreement that it is an invaluable experience which we will all be returning to do again next year.



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