Saint Patrick’s Purgatory, Lough Derg Ireland
The story of St. Patrick’s Purgatory:
Like so many sites in Ireland, the history of Saint Patrick’s Purgatory goes back well over 1,000 years. In the Fifth Century, when according to ancient texts, God showed Saint Patrick a pit on the island said to be the entrance to hell. It has been a place of pilgrimage throughout the history of the country. It was written about in 784 AD in the Annals of Ireland and included in a world map printed in 1492.
The island has remained a place of pilgrimage throughout the centuries, almost continuously with the same emphasis on prayer, conversion and reparation.
The typical pilgrimage lasts 3 days and involves fasting, except for bread, water, tea and coffee. Hence it is not particularly recommended for the elderly or ill. You reach the island by boat, whereupon pilgrims remove their shoes, and remain barefoot throughout their stay here.
The pilgrimage season runs from May 1st through September 20th for one-day retreats (although you can certainly stay longer), with three-day pilgrimages running from June 1st through August 15th.
There are some age and physical restrictions for the three-day retreats. Saint Patrick’s Purgatory is closed from November 1st through April.
Traveling to Lough Derg:
Lough Derg is the name of the lake on which the island is located. The village of Pettigo is the nearest town. There is bus service Monday through Saturday from Dublin during the 3-day pilgrimage season only. There is no train service to Lough Derg, the nearest station is in Sligo.
GPS coordinates: 54° 36′ 25.8948” N, 7° 52′ 21.8424” W
Tel/fax: +353 71 986 1518
Click here for official Lough Derg website.
Click here for the official Diocesan website.