McNally, Fiona Rose
The evolution of pilgrimage practice in early modern Ireland.
Masters thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.
In the religious history of Lreland, the pilgrimages to Lough Derg and Our Lady's Island have
occupied a special place of interest for centuries. The pilgrimage practice at Lough Derg
offers insights into certain aspects of study which warrant further attention in pilgrimage
scholarship. Historians have generally overlooked the significant shifts in the nature of the
pilgrimage exercises brought about as a result of the Counter-Reformation. Efforts to
transform the pilgrimage from a ritualistic experience into an inner spiritual experience
demand a proper investigation into the nature of these devotional shifts. Ln the early
seventeenth century pilgrims at Lough Derg performed ritual actions sanctioned by custom
and transmitted by oral tradition. However, in the early eighteenth century the religious event
was reshaped by the Franciscans. Pilgrims were provided with written instructions and
encouraged to meditate on their actions, turning the ritual into an example of Tridentine
spirituality. This study attempts to compare the significant shifts in the nature of the Lough
Derg pilgrimage with other Irish pilgrimage sites such as Our Lady's Island, Croagh Patrick
and Struell Wells. It is also the objective of this study to investigate the antiquity of
traditional practices modified by the clergy. Traditional practices were subject to minute
shifts over time. The main aim in this thesis is to examine how newly invented traditions
became accepted and embedded, and how they were in turn, expanded on.
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